RANDERS CONTINUES RUN IN SILKEBORG
Charlie Davies and Randers fought to their fourth win in five games on a sunny Saturday afternoon in Silkeborg, with a late goal by winger Alexander Fischer being the lone decider.
Davies continued his role as a second-half attacking substitute, playing the final 20 minutes in the important road win.
Silkeborg was still feeling the sting from their brutal 6-1 beating at the hands of Nordsjaelland in the prior weekend, the latest in an increasingly long line of disappointing results since their opening-day win over Esbjerg.
Randers had also found themselves on the losing end of the exact same scorelilne in their curtain-raise in July, however with the team having responded by immediately embarking on their current strong run, they knew that they could not in any way look past their hosts.
"Coming in here, we knew [Silkeborg] were a team looking to get back into their winning form and that they have been struggling," Davies told of their approach. "We knew it was important to come in here and get the result, and we wanted to go for the win."
After a rather quiet opening from both teams, the hosts had the first brief moment of danger, as Marvin Pourie broke free up the middle and charged straight ahead towards goal with options on either side, however he was dispossessed just before he entered the area.
Randers played a more patient possession-oriented game from the start, probing around the edges with long series of passes and looking for any clear openings.
In the eighth minute, Jonas Kamper did just that when he found the space to hit a high cross from the right side towards goal, which was headed clear by the defense. However, in his attempt to recover the ball, he collided Silkeborg's Christian Holst on the right edge of the area.
While the visiting Randers fans behind the opposite goal screamed bloody murder for what they perceived through their telescopic vision to be a crystal clear penalty, subsequent replays showed that Kamper had knocked over the defending player, proving the referee's non-call to be the correct one.
Just past the quarter-hour, Silkeborg attacking midfielder Jesper Bech collected a cross from the right side just outside the 18-yard box and took one touch to center it for Marvin Pourie who had slipped through the defense on a diagonal run.
Pourie did well to control the ball at his feet, but with a defender pressuring, his shot was barely wide.
In the 26th, Bech gave it a go himself, sending a 25-yard cracker directly into the hands of Randers keeper David Ousted, then three minutes later, Pourie was once again the danger-man with a header that was just high.
With ten minutes remaining in the half, Randers were close after Chris Sørensen fired a cross from the left flank towards Frank Kristensen at the edge of the six-yard box, whose high, looping header landed just behind the crossbar in the top netting.
Then three minutes later, the visitors were wasteful with the chance that should have given them a halftime lead. Kamper whipped in a dangerous cross from the left towards the far post which was just clawed clear by Lasse Heinze. The ball was immediately recovered by Kristensen, who quickly centered it in perfect position for Ronnie Schwartz to blast it in. The forward's one-timed shot was necessarily off-target, however, flying just on the wrong side of the right post.
Kamper provided perhaps the most consistent trouble for the Silkeborg defense, and nearly took matters into his own hands in the 54th minute, pulling down a ball in the right flank, beating Nicolaj Ritter and cutting diagonally toward the near post, before just being crowded out by Heinze prior to getting a shot off.
He was the flashpoint again at the hour mark, charging up the left side from near the midfield stripe, cutting inwards then laying a short centering pass off to substitute player Nicolai Brock-Madsen, who was just a step too slow to make contact.
With 19 minutes on the clock, Randers coach Colin Todd brought on Davies to bolster the attack and try to break the deadlock, and the American nearly did just that with his first touch of the ball.
Tracking down a long ball struck from near the midfield, Davies managed to squeeze between his two marking defenders and attempt an awkwardly-balanced looping header, but it was lacking any real zing, and Heinze was just able to grab it with a high leap.
"One of those times where I was able to get in behind the defender, and the ball slowed down for me. I just didn't get enough power on it to get it over the keeper. I thought the keeper was a little further out than he was."
This was all forgotten three minutes later, as Randers netted what would ultimately be the deciding goal. Christian Keller controlled a throw-in from Johnny Thomsen at the right edge of the penalty area, and held up the play long enough to draw the defense in his direction.
Then he adeptly turned and hit a low cross to the middle, where Fischer rushed in and blasted his volley straight ahead from eight yards out for the lead.
While Randers had one fine opportunity to double the advantage go to waste in the 84th minute when Brock-Madsen needed too many touches to set up a shot on a free breakaway, the hosts piled on most of the pressure through the final five minutes of regulation and a further five of added time.
A 90th minute Silkeborg corner flew dangerously untouched through the six-yard box, then the next three minutes saw Bech's shot from the left saved by Ousted, Kasper Risgard's free kick grabbed by the busy keeper, and Frank Hansen's 18-yarder also saved.
Much to the relief of the visitors and the small contingent of traveling fans, the final whistle blew after 95 minutes, signaling a victory for Randers.
"We thought they were going to be a team that would keep possession, but we did that for most of the first half, make them run and work hard," Davies commented on the overall flow. "In the second half, we were able to squeak one out and get the goal. We had a lot of chances, especially after we scored, but we'll take the three points."
Reflecting on his own 20 minutes on the field, he sees this as a continuance of his return to full strength, and is confident that his explosive qualities as a striker will shine through.
"For myself, it's just about trying to get back into a rhythm at this point. This is just my fourth game now after a long break."
"I'm feeling pretty good, now it's just a matter of taking it step by step, game by game, and to get that first goal which is really important for the confidence, then things will start happening from there."
"As a striker, you should be worried about when you don't get chances. I'm extremely happy because I'm beginning to get chances and be dangerous. That's the most important part because everything else will fall into place.""
The victory continues a strong run by the team, who have now won four out of five since their opening day horror show. The three points temporarily sees them jump into second place, although this is likely to change after the rest of the weekend's round of games are playing.
Davies and the Horses will likely face their toughest test of the season when they take the field again on Saturday when they host still-undefeated first-place team FC Copenhagen.