Dijon fight back to hold Montpellier
Florent Balmont came on and changed the game for Dijon FCO against Montpellier Hérault SC, inspiring Stéphane Jobard's side to share of the spoils having fallen behind at the Stade Gaston Gérard.
Dijon FCO 2-2 Montpellier Hérault SC
Montpellier bounced into this clash in high spirits with Saturday's 4-2 win over Amiens SC their fifth consecutive game without defeat, but goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli was nonetheless picking the ball out of his net following the first attack of the game. Junior Sambia did well to meet Fouad Chafik's cross ahead of Bruno Ecuele Manga, but his attempted clearance ended up making it 1-0 to Dijon (2'). The hosts settled into their stride after that mishap, though, and Mollet - back in the starting line-up having been rested for the Amiens game - repaid his coach's faith with the equaliser soon after. The diminutive midfielder let fly from the edge of the box and a deflection off Wesley Lautoa helped the ball beyond Rulli's opposite number, Alfred Gomis (15'). La Paillade looked utterly dominant for the rest of the half, and pulled into the lead when Savanier met Mollet's pass before thrashing an unstoppable left-footed effort into Gomis's top corner for 2-1 (29'). Stephy Mavididi came close to pulling one back towards the end of the half after Hilton's botched clearance, but the Juventus-owned youngster could only find the outside side netting of the Montpellier goal (39'). The injured Senou Coulibaly then made way for Florent Balmont (43') before the Gomis followed him, replaced by Alex Runarsson (45'+6).
Balmont turns the tide
Despite lining up for the second half with significantly different personnel to the first - a decision Stéphane Jobard was rather forced into - Dijon started brightly in the second, with Jhonder Cadiz meeting Mama Baldé's cutback and drilling a low shot at goal, only to see Rulli save in instalments (49'). Mavididi then thought he should have had a penalty when his cross struck Clément Vidals arm, but referee François Letexier waved play on (50'). Balmont - the second-oldest player on the pitch after Hilton at 39 - changed had changed the balance of the game since coming on, though, and his cross for Mavididi could so easily have led to an equaliser, but it was inches too high for the England Under-20 striker (67'). There was not denying Mavididi minutes later, though. Mounir Chouiar whipped in a corner which was headed on by Cadiz, and Mavididi was on hand to bundle home his second goal of the season for 2-2 (73'). Andy Delort could have snatched the points for Montpellier late on when he turned Ecuele Manga and let fly, but Runarsson was equal to his effort (84') and it ended 2-2.
THE PLAYER: Florent Balmont
A two-time Ligue 1 Conforama champion - once each with Olympique Lyonnais and LOSC - Balmont has been used sparingly in the autumn of his career, making just three league starts in this, his fourth season with Dijon. His class is still plain for all to see, though. Balmont's speed was always more mental the physical, and that extra yard in his head persists. He had three shots on goal here despite only entering the fray midway through the game, and one wonders if Dijon might have picked up all three points had he started.
THE STAT: 9
Montpellier's have failed to win their last nine away games in Ligue 1 Conforama, their 1-0 victory at AS Saint-Etienne in May their previous three-point haul on the road. If only home results counted this season, MHSC would be second, a point behind LOSC. As it stands, they are sixth, wondering how to take their home form away with them.