DUSTIN BECK - Friday, May 27, 2011
Charles Kazlauskas and Helmond Sport were annihlated at home by Excelsior in the opener of their home and home playoff finals with a promotion to the Eredivisie on the line.
Helmond goalie Robert van Westerop had the polar opposite of his last game which was a stellar performance in a shutout of Veendam by committing several mistakes in the back, costing his team dearly.

The first goal came in the fourth minute for Excelsior after a run of about 35 yards from the middle of the park to the right flank and a final move between the defenders legs, a right footed cross found the head of Roland Bergkamp at the near post on a ball that wasn't turned away by the keeper. Bergkamp buried the mistake into the back of the net and Excelsior was off and running early 1-0.

The rest of the half was relatively quiet with the exception of a yellow card to Helmond defender Phllipp Haastrup for a tackle just outside the 18 yard box, that on replay clearly looked to be a missed call against Haastrup.

Milwaukee native Kazlauskas was subbed out at halftime in a straight defender for defender swap with Jeffrey Altheer.

The first half yellow card turned into a major play in the 53rd minute when Haastrup was called for riding the back of and pulling down an attacker on a corner kick, the referee pointed to the spot for the penalty kick then dealt Helmond with the death-blow by showing Haastrup his second yellow card followed by the red. Ryan Woolwijk stepped to the spot, sent goalie van Westerop the wrong away and slotted home goal number two for the guests and the onslaught was on.

Playing a man down and down two goals, Helmond's defense was spread thin. After a long cross field pass from left to right to switch the attack by Excelsior, the pass was broken up and sent back to goalie van Westerop for clearance. Instead of putting his foot through the ball and clearing it, van Westerop attempted to side step the Excelsior attacker Guyon Fernandez who had continued his run and chased the back pass. Fernandez stole the ball off the feet of the keeper and put the easy finish in the back of the net to continue the destruction of Helmond and the nightmare for van Westerop.

The next goal came in the 71st minute as Marvin Zeegelaar ran a beautiful give and go up the middle of the field with 60th minute sub Kevin Wattamaleo. The final pass in the box to Zeegelaar was broken up with a slide tackle by the Helmond defenders only to see it fall to a wide open Wattamaleo in front of the goal for another easy finish from 12 yards out to push the lead even further to 4-0.

The final goal of the afternoon for Excelsior came in the 83rd minute by another sub. After coming on in the 78th minute midfielder Edwin de Graaf found acres of space in the final third, The ball was crossed to him 25 yards from goal, de Graaf settled and cranked out a low right footed strike the deflected off another luckless Helmond defender and into the top left corner past a helpless van Westerop to finish the goal barrage by Excelsior at 5-0.

Helmond Sport finally gave the sellout home crowd something to cheer about with an 89th minute goal by Guus Joppen. After getting the ball to the left side endline and a nice move around an Excelsior defender, the ball was crossed low and hard into the danger area in front of the six yard box where Joppen got a foot to it and put it into the right corner to salvage something on the day for the host team and put the final scoreline at 5-1.

The second leg of the playoff will be Sunday in Rotterdam as Excelsior only has to bunker in at not allow five goals to maintain their position in the Dutch Eredivisie.