RECAP: HELMOND SPORT 1 - 0 VEENDAM
Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond Sport moved on to a home and home playoff against Excelsior, after finishing off a dramatic comeback in the second leg of a home and home with Veendam this weekend.
The Milwaukee native went the full 90 on the backline for Helmond Sport as they moved one step closer to promotion to the Dutch Eredivisie.
Kaz and Helmond shut out Veendam over the last 137 minutes of play after going behind 3-0 in the opening leg at Veendam on Thursday.
Helmond Sport rallied for 3 of their own in the second half of the first round game, to head into the return leg at Helmond Sport on Sunday all knotted up at 3-3.
Veendam had several chances early once again to take the lead but couldn't take advantage of them.
The first good chance for Veendam came with a well timed run onto a well placed cross, but the visitors were unable to keep the header down on frame and missed a golden opportunity early.
Veendam got another chance shortly thereafter with a set piece. A left footed inswinging cross from 40 yards out was latched onto again with a strong header, only to have Helmond goalkeeper Robert van Westerop get just enough of a hand to it to deflect it off the crossbar and then have it walk down the line before rolling out of bounds.
The next assault on goal for Veendam came from striker Lars Lambooij who found himself all by himself from 30 yards out. Lambooij settled the ball and cracked a beautiful left footed volley that looked destined for the top right corner, only to see van Westerop make an incredible save once again and push the shot aside to bail Helmond out and keep the score tied at zero heading into the break.
It looked as though all of the early attacking would pay off in the 54th minute when van Westerop took down Arco Jansen in the box.
Jansen received the ball off of a give and go then pushed the ball just out of the keepers reach to draw the yellow card and see the referee Reinold Wiedemeijer point to the spot.
Dutch striker Marnix Kolder stepped to the spot but took a very cautious penalty kick. van Westerop added to his amazing day by guessing the right direction by diving low to his right and stifling Veendam once again.
Helmond Sport finally got the only goal they needed 18 minutes later when a run down the left flank resulted in a cross to the far post that found the head of Mark Veldmate that made no mistake and buried his chance low and hard into the corner past Veendam keeper Peter van der Vlag.
Kazlauskas and Helmond Sport finished off the rest of the game in front of a jubilant crown at Lavans Stadium, and gave coach Jurgen Streppel and his team a birth in the playoff finals.
Helmond Sport will open the home and home playoff finals on Thursday at home with the return leg to Excelsior taking place next Sunday.