Auxerre deny Arles second win of the season
Bottom club Arles-Avignon were on the verge of just their second win of the season thanks to Dame N’Diaye’s 65th-minute strike, but the talismanic Ireneusz Jelen popped up with six minutes to go to steal Auxerre a share of the points.
Despite dominating the encounter, Auxerre had their work cut out for them as they looked to get a first win since mid-November against the league’s bottom side, who had only claimed two points on the road going into the match.
Auxerre have had their troubles finding the target this season, but it was poor luck rather than poor form that saw Valter Birsa’s 16th-minue free-kick rattle the crossbar. The Slovenia international was at it again early in the second half but was again denied, this time by Arles ’keeper Vincent Planté, as the Burgundy side failed to cap their ascendancy with a goal (51’).
Fighting spirit pays off
Although Arles had bagged just five points all season, it hasn’t been for want of fighting spirit, and Faruk Hadzibegic’s men took the opportunity to strike a blow. Foiled with their first chance when Olivier Sorin tipped Kamel Ghilas’s powerful shot onto the bar, substitute Dame N’Diaye made no mistake with Kaba Diawara’s pass, making the break against the run of play to give the visitors an unexpected advantage (64’).
Arles fans were on their edge of their seats for the next 20 minutes as Auxerre struggled to reply, but their dream of a second win for the season - which would have been their first away from home - wasn’t to be as Jo-Gook Jung set up the AJA’s star striker Ireneusz Jelen for the equalising - and as usual, crucial - goal (84’).
AJA's relegation threat remains
The rescued draw sees Auxerre climb one place to provisional 16th, although they could drop a spot to be perched just two points above the relegation zone should Nice get a result at home to PSG on Sunday night. Meanwhile Arles-Avignon, despite cutting the gap behind 19th-placed Lens to 14 points, will still need a miracle if they are to finish anywhere other than at the bottom of the table, let alone beat the drop to Ligue 2.