The biggest game in France was played at the Parc des Princes this weekend, but last week saw another huge game in the French capital as Championnat National side Red Star FC 93 beat the cold weather to make sure the game against Martigues went ahead.
Our man in the capital that night was friend of the site Jonathan Ervine.
Cold weather may have caused the postponement of the Six Nations Rugby match between France and Ireland at the Stade de France on February 11th, but it was a different story only two metro stops away at the Stade Bauer in Saint Ouen. Sub-zero temperatures failed to deter a crowd of over a thousand from watching the match between Red Star 93 and Martigues in National.
The home team’s ground has an old-school feel and health and safety rules mean that only the main stand can welcome spectators for most games. However, a mix of the old and the new is provided by an artificial playing surface which was installed at the end of last season and ensured that last Saturday’s match went ahead.
PSG have had a lot of high-profile investment from the Middle East which has had a major impact on the club and a significant amount of money will be required to modernise Red Star’s historic Stade Bauer, a ground which welcomed a match during the 1924 Olympics and a pre-World Cup friendly between Brazil and Andorra in 1998. Before kick-off against Martigues, an Asian visitor to Red Star’s club shop was jokingly asked if he wanted to buy the club. He does not appear to have done so yet, but he did purchase a scarf.
The first half of the match between Red Star and Martigues took a while to warm up, no doubt due to the low temperatures. A minute before the end of an even opening period, the hosts took the lead when defender Jérémie Clément headed in a corner from Antony Lopez-Peralta.
After the break, Red Star dominated despite the withdrawal of former Auxerre, Lyon and Fulham attacker Steve Marlet in the 69th minute. The pace and energy of midfielder Farid Beziouen and attacker Olivier Malfleury posed Martigues plenty of problems and both players came close to adding a second goal.
As it seemed that Red Star were destined for a 1-0 victory, Martigues equalised with only three minutes of normal time left. Defender Christophe Freitas was left umarked at a free-kick and headed the visitors level. It was not the last significant action as Red Star forced a corner two minutes into injury time. After the ball had twice been cleared off the line, Olivier Malfleury headed towards goal before the ball was forced back out and the rebound went agonisingly wide. However, the linesman ruled that Malfleury’s effort had crossed the line and the goal was awarded much to the anger of the visitors.
The 2-1 victory means that Red Star’s revival continues following recent successes against leading clubs in National such as Rouen and Nîmes, both of which were also clinched by late winning goals. With former French national coach Raymond Domenech having recently talked of his desire to see a second major team in the French capital, and suggesting that he would be happy to be a part of such a project, Red Star could have a bright future.