Live Commentary: Montpellier HSC 0-1 Saint-Etienne - as it happened
Relive Rolland Courbis's first game back in charge of Montpellier as he sees his side fall to a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Saint-Etienne.
By Barney Corkhill, Assistant Editor Filed: Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:43 UK
Last Updated: Saturday, December 14, 2013 at 12:43 UK
Rolland Courbis lost the first game of his second spell in charge of Montpellier this evening as Saint-Etienne came away from the Stade de la Mosson with a 1-0 win.
The visitors got the only goal of the game 15 minutes from time when Faouzi Ghoulam's dangerous cross was converted by Max Gradel at the back post.
The defeat extended Montpellier's winless streak to 10 matches, while Saint-Etienne moved up into sixth with the three points.
You can read how Courbis's second debut in charge of the home side unfolded with Sports Mole's live play-by-play coverage below.
7pmGood evening! Thank you very much for joining Sports Mole for what promises to be a highly-intriguing Ligue 1 encounter between Montpellier and Saint-Etienne. Both teams need a win for different reasons, so we should have an entertaining game on our hands tonight!
7.02pmWe'll start with a look at our hosts, who will be hoping that with a new manager comes a new start as they look to put their poor form behind them. Rolland Courbis returned to the club for his second spell in charge earlier this week, and tonight will see him take charge of his first game. He replaced Jean Fernandez at the helm after the former boss resigned last Thursday due to the club's form.
7.04pmThe problem for Montpellier this season has not been losing games - in fact, only five teams in the entire division have lost fewer than tonight's hosts this season - but rather it has been drawing games. They have shared the spoils 10 times from their 17 matches already this season.
7.06pmAs such, Montpellier have only amassed 16 points from those 17 games, a rather meagre sum that leaves them hovering perilously close to the relegation zone. Only one place separates them from the bottom three, although the five-point gap does make things look a little more comfortable than at first glance.
7.08pmNeedless to say, with such a large amount of draws, Montpellier have struggled to win so far this season. They have only been victorious twice in their 17 matches and have not won any of their last nine games in all competitions. Their last victory was a good one, however, beating Lyon 5-1 at the start of October.
7.10pmDespite their poor league position, Montpellier's other stats for the season aren't bad at all. No team in the bottom eight have scored more goals or conceded fewer than Courbis's side, leaving them well-placed to drag themselves out of a potential relegation battle if they can string a decent run of form together.
7.12pmTo begin such a run today, Montpellier will have to sort out their recent home record, which leaves a lot to be desired. They are without in a win in their last four matches in front of their own fans, a run that has seen them score just two goals. Again, draws have been the problem for the hosts as they have lost just twice at the Stade de la Mosson all season.
7.14pmThey will also need to sort out their on-field behaviour as they currently have the worst disciplinary record in the league. Still, Courbis has seen worse at the club having been in charge while they were down in Ligue 2. Courbis was, in fact, the man who led them out of that division, winning promotion in 2009.
7.16pmSaint-Etienne, then, will be wary of the impact a new manager can have on a side, especially a manager who knows his players and knows the team already. They will be looking to get back to winning ways this evening having fallen to a disappointing 3-1 defeat to Rennes in their last outing. Should they win by three or more goals this evening, the visitors would climb into fifth place, just two points off the top four, so there is plenty of incentive for them this evening.
7.18pmSaint-Etienne are currently in eighth place but have a game in hand over all of the teams around them due to the postponement of their match against Evian TG last week. That will change briefly tonight when the visitors play their 17th match of the season, but when the weekend's full round of fixtures is completed then Christophe Galtier's side will have the game advantage once again.
7.20pmThey have certainly not have any trouble finding the net so far this season. Only the league's top two - PSG and Monaco - have scored more goals than Saint-Etienne's 24 so far this season.
7.22pmIt is a different story at the other end of the field, however, as they have the worst defence in the top nine having shipped 20 goals despite having played a game fewer than those around them. They may also have troubles in midfield today due to the large amount of injuries they have, leaving Galtier with a depleted squad to choose from.
7.24pmSaint-Etienne have been plagued by inconsistency recently, winning three, drawing two and losing three of their last eight matches. Things are a little more straightforward on their travels, although not in a good way for the visitors. They have lost three and won just one of their last five away games.
7.25pmPREDICTION: We're nearing kickoff for this match so it is about time I made my prediction! This is an incredibly tough one to call, with the hosts likely to be given a boost by their new manager but still low on confidence due to their poor form. Saint-Etienne are always tough to call as they are so inconsistent, but their injury troubles and the absence of Kurt Zouma through suspension will surely hurt them. I'm going to go for yet another draw for Montpellier, 1-1.
1 minKICKOFF: We're underway here in Montpellier in a huge match for the home side as they look to make a winning start under their new coach. Can they do it? The next 90 minutes will tell us.
3 minGood start to the match from both sides as they look to make an early breakthrough. The hosts win the first corner of the match after some good work from Marveaux down the right, but the delivery is comfortably cleared.
5 minMontpellier have started this match in good spirits and they certainly don't look like a team hovering just one spot above the relegation zone. Is this just a honeymoon period under the new manager, though?
6 minSaint-Etienne come close to making the breakthrough as Tabanou whips a fabulous ball into the box that completely takes the keeper and the defence out of the game. Brandao throws himself at it but is just inches short of connecting with what would've been a simple finish.
8 minJourdren comes to collect a high ball into the box but can't hold onto the ball, dropping it in a crowded area. As is so often the case in such circumstances, however, the keeper gets a free kick to save his blushes.
9 minYELLOW CARD! The first card of the game goes to the visitors as Clerc cynically pulls back Cabella after the midfielder had just nicked the ball away from his man. He can have no real complaints at being shown a yellow there.
11 minMontpellier have another corner but once again the delivery is poor. It curls behind Marveaux, who tries a spectacular bicycle kick but gets it wrong as it goes a long way wide of the goal. There wasn't much else he could do with that cross, though.
12 minTabanou attacks the full-back and manages to work a bit of space on that dangerous left foot of his. He wastes no time in going for the shot, but his low strike hits the side netting at the near post and Jourdren had it covered anyway.
13 minOn the other side of the pitch, Tabanou has a free kick in a good crossing position. After a long wait he upsets everyone in the middle by going for goal, trying to catch the keeper off guard. It may have worked had the shot been better, but his effort curled a few yards wide of the near post.
15 minThe visitors aren't afraid to shoot from range! Ghoulam is the latest to go for goal from a long way out, and this one may be the most ambitious of the lot so far. Needless to say, it flies a long way over the bar and another good attacking platform is wasted.
17 minCHANCE! The best chance of the match so far falls to Tabanou, who has been heavily involved so far. The ball is floated over to the winger who has drifted unmarked into the box. He goes for goal first time with the volley and forcing a decent stop from the keeper, although Jourdren would have been unhappy had he let that one in.
19 minSaint-Etienne break forward again and momentarily have a three-on-two situation. Cohade lifts the ball over to Tabanou, but the pass allowed the defence to get back and the winger's eventual shot is well blocked.
21 minMontpellier fail to deal with a high ball into the box, clearing it only as far as Brandao on the edge of the box. The striker's eyes light up as he sees the ball dropping invitingly, but his volley is way over the bar.
23 minSaint-Etienne have really taken control of this match after a fairly even opening few minutes. The visitors are the only side who look like scoring at the moment, and Montpellier struggling to get out of their own half. It is all very scrappy from the hosts so far.
23 minMontpellier make a rare trip into the opposition half and win a free kick in a good crossing position. Cabella whips a peach of a ball into the box and Marveaux is a stud's length away from poking it goalwards. The replays show that he was offside, but there was no flag so it would have counted.
25 minThe hosts are starting to come back into the match now. They have just had another free kick from deep that was lifted into the box, although this time it didn't cause as many problems and was easily cleared by the visitors.
27 minWe've had almost half an hour of this match and we're still waiting for our first really good chance. Tabanou has had the two best sights of goal so far, but neither can be classed as good chances as it would have taken a fine finish to beat the keeper on both occasions.
29 minCLOSE! Tabanou is really proving to be the dangerman here. Once again Marveaux has left him and he is played in in acres of space down the left. He takes a touch before firing a shot goalwards from around 25 yards with his weaker right foot. It has the keeper worried but swings just past the post.
31 minCHANCE! That is the hosts' best sight of goal so far. Tiene swings a corner into the box and Mounier shows good movement to get in front of his man. He can't keep his header down, however, putting it well over the bar when he should have done better.
32 minYELLOW CARD! Mezague becomes the first Montpellier player in the book, and it is the correct decision from the ref. It was a genuine attempt to get the ball but he was late and high, catching his man on the ankle. Some of the home fans call for a red, but a yellow is the right decision.
34 minBrandao and Jourdren go down in a heap following a hefty collision while competing for an aerial ball. Brandao landed heavily, but even after a couple of replays I can't see why the Montpellier keeper has gone down clutching his face.
35 minThe Montpellier keeper has bought his side a drop-ball, which as usual is uncontested and hammered back to the Saint-Etienne keeper.
37 minThe game has become quite scrappy now and I can't really say that either side are on top at the moment. The visitors aren't looking as dangerous in open play now, while Montpellier's only attacking threat seems to be coming through set pieces at the moment.
39 minGradel swings a good ball into the box but it is very well defended by the hosts. Neither side are creating much at the moment and it is hard to see where an opening goal is going to come from if it stays like this until the break.
41 minThe stadium is by no means full tonight, but those who are here are making plenty of noise. It is good to see fans remaining so vocal and positive despite their side's poor recent form, although I'm sure a new wave of optimism with Courbis's appointment has something to do with that.
43 minBrandao has struggled to get into the game much, largely because Montpellier's system means that they have three defenders marking him most of the time. That isn't great news for the hosts either really, as they are almost wasting a player by having three on one.
45 minGhoulam sends a dangerous header back towards his own keeper with Mounier lurking. The Montpellier man almost steals in but Ruffier is alert to clear his lines.
45 minThere will be just one minute of added time at the end of this first half.
8.19pmWell, safe to say that wasn't the best 45 minutes of football that I have ever seen. It started well enough with Saint-Etienne quickly taking control and really threatening the hosts at times. However, the last 15 minutes or so were uneventful and scrappy as neither side could take the game by the scruff of the neck.
8.21pmThe best chances of the half fell to the visitors, and more specifically Tabanou on the left wing. He was left free by Marveaux, who was more focused on his attacking duties, time and time again and looked dangerous on a number of occasions. Despite the space being afforded to him, however, he didn't have a really clear chance, with his two best efforts coming from a tricky angle that favoured the keeper.
8.23pmThe hosts have only really had one half-chance, when Mounier headed over from a corner. The same player almost capitalised on a headed back-pass late in the half, but after a half of being a spectator, Ruffier was alert enough to clear the danger.
8.25pmBefore this match, there had been over 2.5 goals in 11 of Saint-Etienne's last 13 games, but under 2.5 in each of Montpellier's last eight league games. At the moment, the latter record appears to be the one that will continue today.
8.27pmAs things stand, both teams will move up a position in the table, with Montpellier rising to 16th place in front of Nice, while Saint-Etienne would leapfrog Reims into seventh. Neither side are playing particularly well in this match, however, so both dressing rooms will think that they have a chance of claiming all three points here.
8.29pmIf anyone deserves to be ahead at the break, it is Saint-Etienne but, as I mentioned earlier, they are yet to have a really good chance in this match so far. I wouldn't be surprised to see Montpellier change their system in the second half as they currently have three defenders marking just one striker, leaving them a man short in attack.
8.31pmThe hosts really haven't created anything in open play so far this evening, with their best moments all coming from set pieces. An extra man in attack could well change that and give them more of a threat going forward in open play, as well as allowing Cabella - their most dangerous player - to move into more of a free role.
8.33pmThe players are filtering back onto the field now, with Montpellier emerging first. Hopefully we will see a better second half as both teams begin to push harder for a win that would prove valuable to each side for different reasons.
46 minKICKOFF: Saint-Etienne get us back underway for this second half. More action and a few goals in the coming 45 minutes, please!
47 minLemoine turns neatly on the edge of the box but his resulting shot is poor, trickling along the floor until the keeper comfortably scoops it up.
49 minCabella produces a flurry of step-overs while faced with three green shirts. He gets past two of them but Sall proves to be an immovable object, putting in a solid tackling and leaving the Montpellier man writhing around in apparent agony on the floor. I'm sure he'll be back up in no time, though.
51 minYELLOW CARD! Saihi goes into the book for a sliding tackle from behind. He got the slightest of touches to the ball but came through the back of his man to get it and is rightly booked.
53 minFrom the resulting free kick Ghoulam shapes up to cross the ball, but again he tries to fool the keeper by going for goal. Once more, however, his effort is a waste, flying some way over and wide.
55 minSanson picks the ball up midway through the Saint-Etienne half and immediately looks to turn and shoot. He is given the room to go for goal, but he drags his shot well wide.
57 minTiene almost picks out an incredible diagonal ball that would give Mounier a good chance inside the box, but Ghoulam reads the danger well and gets back to make an important interception.
59 minMounier sends a bouncing delivery into the area and it flies past Sall and into the stomach of Lemoine. The home fans want a handball given against the latter, but he did well to get his arms out of the way and the referee made the right call in not awarding a penalty.
61 minSAVE! Important stop from Ruffier as Montpellier call the keeper into action for the first time in this second half. It was a poor clearance from Brandao that gifted the ball to Camara, who reached the byline before squeezing the ball towards the near post. It may have been intended as a cross, but the keeper needs to make the stop, tipping it over the bar.
63 minCLOSE! Oh that is so close to being the opening goal! It was Perrin who almost turned the ball into his own net as he tried to clear a cross from the left. He sliced his attempted cross past his own keeper but it bounced inches wide of the post.
64 minMONTPELLIER SUB: The hosts make their first change of the day as Tiene comes off to be replaced by Montano, who is given a warm reception from the home fans.
65 minSAINT-ETIENNE SUB: The visitors also make a change, and it is Corgnet who is going off. He is not happy about it at all and questions his manager on his way off the field. Hamouma replaces him.
67 minYELLOW CARD! Sall picks up his first booking of the season for an overly-robust aerial challenge, coming through the back of his man. That was quite a harsh yellow but you could see why the ref gave it.
68 minA good ball into the box tests Jourdren, who gets a solid fist to the ball under pressure from Hamouma. His punch only goes as far as the edge of the area and Brandao is waiting underneath it, only to attempt a bicycle kick that bounces harmlessly wide.
70 minMontpellier have probably just about had the best of this second half, but the quality has been pretty low from both sides. Saint-Etienne have shown no signs of repeating the dangerous attacks that they mustered in the first half, while Tabanou - their most threatening player in that first 45 minutes - has not been involved at all since the break.
72 minThe referee appears to let play continue after a foul on Cabella by Gradel, but belated awards the free kick. Hamouma hasn't heard it and plays on, forcing the referee to chase him down the field. It looks for a second like he is going to book him, but common sense prevails when the Saint-Etienne man explains that he didn't hear the whistle and he just pulls the ball back for the initial foul.
73 minThat is really poor from Brandao. He is fed the ball in an advanced position and has a chance to hold it up while teammates join him and give him support. However, his touch, under no pressure, is awful and the ball runs through to the keeper.
75 minSaint-Etienne finally have the breakthrough! It is great work from Tabanou in one of his first actions of the half as he beats a number of defenders before slipping a pass to Ghoulam on the overlap. The winger sends a delicious low ball into the box that is missed by Hamouma but converted by Gradel at the back post.
77 minCHANCE! Hamouma has a half-chance to get a second in as many minutes for his side. The ball fell to the sub inside the box, but he blasted the half-volley well over the crossbar.
79 minSuddenly the game has been moved up a notch in terms of tempo. It was very pedestrian for the large majority of the half, but with Montpellier now in need of a goal perhaps we might see them make a few more risks.
81 minSAINT-ETIENNE SUB: The goalscorer Gradel makes way to be replaced by Florentin Pogba, the elder brother of Juventus star Paul. That is a defensive move from the visitors as they look to see this match out.
83 minIt must be said that Montpellier look short of ideas at the moment and have done all night. With just over five minutes to play they don't seem to be making a concerted effort to get back into this game. They still have two subs available but Courbis doesn't seem to want to use them just yet. Something has to change soon, though.
85 minCHANCE! Decent chance for the hosts but Camara still had a lot to do if he was going to score there. Mounier swung a good cross into the box and Camara rose highest to nod it goalwards, but he couldn't keep his effort down.
85 minSAINT-ETIENNE SUB: The visitors make their third and final change as the dangerous Tabanou is replaced by Jonathan Brison.
86 minMONTPELLIER SUBS: Finally Coubis makes his double change, but has he left it too late? Martin and Deza come on in place of Saihi and Camara.
87 minThe home fans erupt as they claim a handball against Sall. The referee waves it away and the replay shows that it was a very good decision. It looked close in real time, but it came off his hip as he did well to get his arms out of the way.
88 minYELLOW CARD! Hamouma goes into the book for a late tackle. No complaints again there, and the hosts have a free kick in a decent position.
90 minThere is certainly an increased level of urgency about the hosts now, but it looks like they may have left it too late to really push for an equaliser. They should have made those changes and switched to this attacking mindset at least 10 minutes ago.
90+1 minThere will be a minimum of four minutes added time at the end of this match. Can Montpellier grab a dramatic late equaliser?
90+3 minSaint-Etienne have the ball at the right end of the pitch as far as they are concerned in these closing stages. It looks like they will see this one out unless Montpellier can come up with something special in the remaining minute.
9.25pmNot a happy homecoming for Rolland Courbis then as he loses the first game of his second spell in charge of Montpellier, leaving them still just one place above the relegation zone and now without a win in 10 games. It was another uninspiring performance from the hosts, and they didn't seem to have any of the usual boost that a new manager gives a club. Five points still separate them from the bottom three, but if they play like that for the rest of the season then they will do well to avoid the drop.
9.27pmAs for Saint-Etienne, they were also far from their best but did just enough to come away with three important points. They didn't get the three-goal winning margin that was required to lift them into fifth, but the 1-0 victory is sufficient to lift them into the top six. Remember, once this weekend's fixtures are completed, Saint-Etienne will have their game in hand back, so they are well-placed to launch a challenge for the top four this season.
9.30pmRight, that is all we have time for this evening! Thank you for joining Sports Mole for tonight's match. It wasn't the best game of football but it certainly creates some interesting scenarios, and it will be intriguing to see whether Rolland Courbis can get his players motivated enough to improve on that showing as he eases into the job. Stick around for our match report, which will be on site shortly, and also be sure to check back in tomorrow for another day of live football from across Europe. Until then, though, it is goodbye from me!