Pinoké has taken a big step towards reaching the play-offs in the Tulip Hoofdklasse. The team from Amsterdam won 2-1 at home against the Orange-Red, so that they have regained fourth place one round before the end of the regular season.
OR has the same number of points (35) but won one game less than Pinoké. Pinoké also has a much easier opponent in the last round. The formation of Jesse Mahieu will compete against the already relegated Voordaan, while the Orange-Red will meet leader Kampong. Winning is enough for the team from the capital to be among the best four in the country, just like last year.
Pinoké handed out the first stitch in the ‘quarter final’ on Sunday before the first ball rolled. Just before the starting signal, a large set of flares were lit behind the Orange-Red goal. The blue smoke drove OR goalie Nieki Verbeek, who is still the replacement for the injured Pirmin Blaak, out of his circle. The teenager had more work there in the first quarter than his colleague Hidde Brink across the street. Verbeek kept Alexander Hendrickx and Florent Van Aubel from scoring.
In the second quarter, the goalkeeper capitulated after all, on a bet by Marlon Landbrug. A little Eindhoven help was needed for that. Defender Gijs van Merriënboer unintentionally extended Landbrug’s backhand shot past his keeper, who looked on without a chance.
Eindhoven storm and a flash of light
It turned out to be the starting signal for OR to play more offensively and, above all, more directly. That just didn’t lead to very big opportunities. Pinoké closed the circle and showed that it is less vulnerable than at the beginning of the erratic second half of the season, in which peaks and troughs followed each other in rapid succession. When the Eindhoven storm subsided a bit, Pinoké struck. This time it was Sébastien Dockier who scored, quite released in front of the visitors’ goal: 2-0.
Orange-Red, which was still undefeated in 2023, was searching. Coach Jeroen Baart’s team created few chances before the break. Only in the second half was the first penalty corner decorated. Van Merriënboer, a proven specialist, was in the lead, but opted for a (unsuccessful) variant of Thomas Briels. The same Belgian, who leaves OR after this season, tipped just wide a few minutes later. Shortly afterwards another chance, this time for New Zealander Sean Findlay. The winger took so much time for his goal attempt that he knocked it out himself. In between, the heads of the spectators went up in fear, as a flash of light and a clap of thunder followed each other in rapid succession.
The weather wasn’t a spoilsport in the end. But Orange-Red got another opponent in the last quarter: the clock. They were in a hurry, the visitors from Eindhoven. Typical was a ball that was caught out of the air by Jelle Galema and quickly thrown back to the spot of the violation. Two more corners came in quick succession. But Sam Lane and Van Merriënboer were unsuccessful. It made sure that coach Baart pulled his last joker out of the bag.
With more than seven minutes on the clock, Verbeek went to the side. With one more field player, OR was not chasing one, but two goals. That one came, from another corner, through Lane. In the last three blistering minutes (plus extra time), Pinoké held on. With tricks and tricks and unorthodox rescues. As a result, another lost season threatens OR. Pinoké, that’s almost there.