Romain Thomas' superb header salvaged a point for Angers in an exciting 2-2 draw against Lens at the Stade Bollaert-Delelis on Friday evening.
A packed Stade Bollaert-Delelis was centre stage for the opening game of Round 15 of Ligue 1 Uber Eats, with both side's coming into the clash on the back of contrasting results last weekend.
Angers began the game with a confident but cautious approach, retaining possession in key areas with the aim of nullifying a potential strong start from the wounded hosts, who had scored 15 times in their previous seven home games.
Lens coach Franck Haise said this week that he wanted to see a reaction from his side in the wake of last Sunday's 4-0 reverse at Brest, singling out a lack of 'attacking intensity' in the opening 20 minutes in Brittany. But in the absence of attacking duo Arnaud Kalimuendo and Wesley Saïd, Lens lacked pace and threat in the early exchanges, with wing-back Jonathan Clauss looking the most likely man to provide the spark for Les Sang et Or.
Angers had the first meaningful chance of the game when Angelo Fulgini's effort was deflected into the side netting (20'). Fulgini's effort seemed to spring the game into life as both teams suddenly traded counter attacks.
Then, excellent work on the right flank from Mohamed-Ali Cho provided Sofiane Boufal with an excellent chance to break the deadlock for the visitors but Lens 'keeper Jean-Louis Leca was equal to it (23').
Gaël Kakuta had the chance to open the scoring for the hosts but he fired his effort into the side netting (25').
Angers' shape and discipline was causing problems for Lens who struggled to wrestle control of the midfield area, as has been the case in so many of their home successes this season.
More impressively, Gérald Baticle's men were able to keep the decibel levels at the usually raucous Stade Bollaert-Delelis under control as a stuttering Lens were displaying signs that they were still scarred by their thrashing at Brest.
Angers always looked the most likely to break the deadlock and they did it in style when Sofiane Boufal finished off from close-range (40') after some smart interchange between Azzedine Ounahi and Angelo Fulgini, to lead at the break.
Whatever Franck Haise said to his side at half time certainly had an impact as Lens came out all guns blazing for the second period. It didn't take long for Angers' stubborn backline to be breached as just three minutes after the re-start, Kakuta turned in Massadio Haidara's cross to equalise for the hosts.
Kakuta's leveller had the Bollaert-Delelis bouncing once again and for the first time, Angers looked unsettled and nervous. Lens took a foothold and started to penetrate at every opportunity, moving the ball quicker and asking questions of the visitors' backline.
Lens were rewarded for finding their groove when Poland international Przemysław Frankowski crossed for Florian Sotoca, who guided his shot past Angers 'keeper Danijel Petkovic to complete the turnaround (55').
The goal did not deter Angers' and they tried to create at every necessary opportunity but it was Lens who were now in the ascendancy, winning the midfield battle with Seko Fofano instrumental in the home side's rejuvenation.
Sotoca was then presented with a fantastic opportunity to finish off Angers but headed wide from Jonathan Clauss' cross, when he should have hit the target (69'). But Sotoca was quickly made to rue his miss when Angers superbly equalised when Romain Thomas headed in Angelo Fulgini's cross (70').
The Ubiquitous Fofana had one final chance in injury time to claim the three points but his powerful effort was palmed away by the strong hand of Petkovic as the game ended all-even.
The result means that Lens provisionally stay in fourth place on the table, whilst Angers remain in sixth.
THE PLAYER: Seko Fofana
After a slow start to the game for the hosts, Seko Fofana displayed all of the attributes needed to pull his team out of a hole. The driving force behind everything positive Lens tried to do, Fofana delivered another excellent performance, as his stock continues to rise.
THE STAT: 6
Draw specialists Angers have now drawn six of their eight away games this season - a solid statistic for Gérald Baticle's men, whose organisation and positive approach away from home, is paying dividends.