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Amie Belshaw: A Woman on a Mission

The 2019 Women's World Cup sees England reign supreme as Amie leads the Lionesses to their maiden title. Now she has captured attention in the men's game and has been hired by French side US Boulogne. Will Amie have what it takes to succeed?
Started on 13 January 2020 by ScottT / First Post
Latest Reply on 3 April 2020 by ScottT / Last Post
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The goals aren't quite flying just yet, but defensively you've been very strong so certainly something Amie can be pleased with. A good start overall and sitting 3rd is a nice place to be early on in the season. A reasonable set of fixtures coming next, with some winnable games in there for sure.
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
3 weeksEdited


A fantastic run of four consecutive wins saw us enjoy an unbeaten run in September. Beginning with a 2-1 win away to Toulon, we edged past Bourg en Bresse before dominating in the final fifteen minutes against Villefranche to come out 3-0 winners. The month was wrapped up to ensure a perfect set of results remained in-tact with a 1-0 win against Le Puy Foot thanks to a first-half strike from Steve Shamal.

SC TOULON 1 - Mestrallet (4)

US BOULOGNE 2 - Lina (2), Idazza (pen, 14)

Our trip to the Stade de Bon Rencontre proved to be full of entertainment as the deadlock was broken just a couple of minutes into the game. A free-kick from Remy Duterte was swung in from the left and found Jackson Mendy in the middle. His header was kept out by the Toulon goalkeeper, Florian Andreani, but could only be spilled into the path of Meddy Lina who was on-hand to finish and open his account for the season.

The lead wouldn't last long however as the hosts quickly found a response through a free-kick of their own. In similar circumstances, the ball was lofted into the six-yard-box and after a scramble to clear the ball away, it eventually found its way to Remi Mestrallet who tucked the ball home despite the best efforts of Riffi Mandanda.

An action-packed opening quarter of an hour continued when Steve Shamal's corner resulted into Said Idazza being brought to ground inside the box. The referee had no hesitation to award a penalty and the Moroccan stepped-up to convert his third goal of the season.

In the second-half, Mathias Serin will be wondering how he failed to find the net from Christian Senneville's deep-cross when the winger fired his volley over the bar from approximately five-yards out. He was nearly made to rue his miss moments later when Jonathan Mambu was denied magnificently by Riffi Mandanda to preserve our lead. There was certainly a great sense of relief from the travelling fans when the full-time whistle sounded.


US BOULOGNE 1 - Muani (80)

BOURG EN BRESSE 0

In a game nowhere near as entertaining as the one prior to it for Boulogne, the final result was nonetheless just as important for L'USBCO as we continued our excellent start to the season with yet another three points against Bourg en Bresse.

The best chance of the first-half came after half an hour when Remy Duterte eventually received the ball out wide and sent a beautifully weighted cross into the box. Randal Kolo Muani positioned himself well to get on the end of it, but he could only send his glancing header flashing wide of the goal.

The deadlock was finally broken with ten minutes to go, however. Substitute Cedric Makutungu combined well with Remy Duterte who sent another dangerous ball into the area for Muani to meet. Not to be denied again, the 20-year-old made just enough contact to divert the ball past Matthieu Pichot.

Our goal did seem to spark some life into the contest but the visitors failed to create any decent opportunities to greatly concern Amy Belshaw. Remy Duterte's free-kick was struck with power but was well-saved by Pichot. Said Idazza also came close five minutes from time when his header from a corner narrowly crept the wrong side of the post.


US BOULOGNE 3 - Idazza (77), Duterte (87), Shamal (90+3)

FC VILLEFRANCHE 0 - Robinet missed pen (58)

Chances were rather sparse in the opening forty-five minutes as Villefranche visited the Stade de la Libération, but it became apparent the first-half wasn't about to be repeated straight from kick-off. A cross from Cedric Makutungu was headed agonisingly open the bar by Randal Kolo Muani in a second-half that completely juxtaposed the first.

The visitors had an opportunity to take the lead ten minutes into the second-half when Charly Dutournier was clumsily brought down by Cedric Makutungu. Thomas Robinet stepped-up for the visitors, but has penalty was denied by Riffi Mandanda who also managed to gather up the rebound to deny the striker.

Djamaldine Atoiyi also had an opportunity to convert but failed to make his one-on-one effort count as it was comfortably saved by Mandanda.

Keen to stop the barrage of Villefranche attacks and to turn the tide of the game, a cross from Maël Illien found Remy Duterte in space but his effort came crashing back off the bar. Moments later, Said Idazza was introduced to the game after being dropped due to a knock he sustained in the victory against Bourg en Bresse. It wouldn't take long for him to make an impression as Steve Shamal's low-cross invited the Moroccan to get in front of his man and finish expertly to give us the lead.

Ten minutes later we doubled our lead when Christian Senneville was afforded too much space to give his cross into the box. Failing to clear the ball, it eventually found Steve Shamal who combined with Remy Duterte who made no mistake this time, tucking his effort in at the near post.

There was just enough time for the provider to become goalscorer in added-time. Shamal flicked the ball past Alexis Sauvage from a Rayan Frikeche cross to wrap up the game in style. A thumping second-half performance in the end proving to be too much for the visitors who simply weren't given a foot-in within the last fifteen minutes in a dominant display.


LE PUY FOOT 43 0

US BOULOGNE 1 - Shamal (36)

September was wrapped-up as it was started; with a 1-0 victory, this time coming against Le Puy Foot at the Stade Charles Massot. It proved to be a tight affair with the defences of either team perhaps shining more so than the forward-lines, as we were limited to just a solitary shot on-target from thirteen attempts, whilst the hosts managed three from the same number of attempts.

Steve Shamal scored the only goal of the game ten minutes before the break as Anthony Scarramozzino bombed forward to send in a delightful cross that the winger tucked away with great poise.

The hosts failed to create any notable chances throughout the ninety minutes with the only other significant opportunity of the game falling to Meddy Lina from a free-kick. Scarramozzino found the Guadaloupe international but his header was sent over the cross-bar.

Twelve points from a possible twelve and three clean-sheets from four games. A perfect month all-in-all for L'USBCO.


League Table



Our impressive run of form saw us move up to second at the end of September. We remain behind the equally-impressive AS Béziers on goal-difference as they fell to their first defeat of the season against Quevilly-Rouen in a 2-1 loss at the Stade Robert Diochon. Gazélec Ajaccio remained in close-proximity just three points behind with Stade Lavallois just a further point adrift.

At the bottom, SC Toulon sat at the foot of the table with just three points to their name. They had yet to record a single victory this season after their opening eight games. USL Dunkerque were also winless as they sat a further two points ahead on five. US Concarneau and Pau completed the bottom four with three teams sitting just a point clear of the pair.

Player of the Month



Steve Shamal is the recipient of September's Player of the Month award having impressed this month with two goals and two assists to his name.

Amie Belshaw:
"Steve is a player of great quality. We recognise the great ability he has, but we also recognise the great level of potential we have to unlock. He's still very fresh into his career and is improving all the time. He has been a valuable asset to us so far this season and he really has knuckled-down to really prove what he's about.

He relishes challenges and that's a desirable trait to have. He's pushed every week by Mathias [Serin] to do enough in both games and in training to continue to retain his place in the starting eleven on a week-to-week basis. That level of challenge is mightily important to ensure we keep players on their toes. The two of them share a great respect for each other and have a good relationship. That can't be underappreciated either."

Fixtures



October serves up an additional game to the usual four as the fifth-round of the French Cup was recently drawn. We travel to FC Agon Coutainville who ply their trade in the depths of regional football with the tie due to take place on 15th October. Before then, we travel to SO Cholet and then host Gazélec Ajaccio a week later in a massive clash at the top of the Championnat National.

Following on from our exploits in the French Cup, we travel to AS Lyon-Duchère and the Stade Balmont, which is due to be left by La Duch in January 2021 as they take up residence in their new home, the Matmut Stadium. We then return home to face struggling US Concarneau as we look to continue our push for promotion at the end of the season.

Seb: There are hints of improvement going forward but there's still need for improvement. Defensively though, the team have been fantastic and Amie is bound to be impressed with the record her team have. That's now six clean-sheets from eight games. Not bad at all.

Credit to Justice for providing the graphic at the start of this update. His work is very much appreciated.
Fantastique! What a start pal, keep that up you'll be going up the leagues in no time
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
2 weeksEdited


October brought a mixed-bag of results as we began our adventure in this year's French Cup. Comfortable victories over SO Cholet and promotion-chasing Gazélec Ajaccio resulted in a strong start to the month ahead of our fifth-round clash with FC Agon Coutainville. Lenny Leonil was introduced to the first-team squad for the first-time and scored four in a 5-1 win, setting up a clash with another lower-league opponent in ES Segré HA Football.

We fell to a 2-1 loss against Lyon-Duchére upon our return to the Championnat National before we were held to a stalemate against US Concarneau. We booked our place in the seventh round of the French Cup with a 3-1 victory in Segré against our lower-league opponents to conclude the month.

L'USBCO face another away-trip in the next round as Racing CFF in the fifth-tier are set to entertain us at their home of the Stade Yves du Manoir that houses up to 8,000 supporters in Colombes.

SO CHOLET 0

US BOULOGNE 3 - Lina (35, 87), Shamal (53)

SO Cholet were comfortably swept aside in a convincing 3-0 win at the Stade Omnisport Jean-Bouin. Meddy Lina opened the scoring after a plethora of chances for the visitors went without reward. Remy Duterte's free-kick was smartly headed across the face of goal by Steve Shamal before the Guadaloupe international applied the finishing touches.

The lead was doubled within the opening eight minutes of the second-half when Christian Senneville's tenancy resulted in him battling his way into the area before cutting the ball back to Shamal. His effort was too powerful for Steeve Elena as the Frenchman continued his excellent form that saw him win the Player of the Month award in September.

Meddy Lina would celebrate a rare brace come the full-time whistle. The defender converted with a close-range header to make it 3-0 in a game where the scoreline perhaps read a little harsh for the hosts.


US BOULOGNE 3 - Duterte (2), Muani (60), Idazza (73)

GAZÉLEC AJACCIO 1 - Ouhafsa (87)

An early six-pointer clash came when we hosted Gazélec Ajaccio at the Stade de la Libération. An early goal from Remy Duterte enabled us to take control of the game from the off as the visitors struggled to gain a foot-hold over the course of the ninety minutes.

Duterte gave us the lead after just seventy seconds when he was given far too much space in the area to place his shot and fire past goalkeeper Arnaud Balijon.

As much as the visitors struggled for chances, they were handed a massive opportunity to equalise when a slack back-pass enabled David Pollet to latch onto the loose ball. His initial effort was well-saved by Riffi Mandanda but the rebound fell straight to the Belgian, however somehow he only managed to find the post with his follow-up.

Randal Kolo Muani ensured we would go two goals to the good when he struck with a beautiful volley inside the area in the 59th minute. Scott Kyei was left to rue his miscued clearance that fell straight to the on-loan Nantes striker who converted his third goal of the season.

Said Idazza furthered our advantage when the Moroccan ran onto Mandanda's ball forward. On the edge of the area, Idazza hit his effort with plenty of power towards the near post leaving Balijon was absolutely no chance. Ajaccio did manage to score a consolation when Virgile Piechocki slipped-in Ayoub Ouhafsa but it would be L'USBCO who would be celebrating a massive three points that consolidated our hold on second-place in the race for promotion.


FC AGON COUTAINVILLE 1 - Henry (55)

US BOULOGNE 5 - Leonil (18, 68,74, 79), Muani (87), Garita missed pen (58)

Our French Cup adventure began with a trip to Agon-Countainville as the plucky non-league side sought to magic-up a surprise at home in-front of a home crowd of 834 - increased by nineteen travelling supporters from Boulogne.

A rotated side enjoyed a 5-1 demolition as Lenny Leonil proved to be the star of the show on his first-team debut. The hosts had a clear game-plan in place as they looked to frustrate us by putting ten men behind the ball, but the plan was swiftly beaten inside the opening twenty minutes when Leonil beat his man for pace, turned him inside-out with great trickery and then fired his effort home.

Arnold Garita was looking for his first goal in Boulogne colours since joining the club on loan from Belgian Pro League side Charleroi, but the Cameroonian was denied on several occasions in the first-half as his wait was prolonged further.

Countainville supporters were sent into raptures when their side managed to equalise in the 55th minute. Dylan Henry was the man of the moment as he was sent through on goal by Yassine Poullain's measured ball that cut-open our defence which subsequently enabled the striker to slam his effort past the helpless Mandanda.

However, our lead would soon be restored but not before Arnold Garita saw his penalty comfortably saved by Ibrahim Joly after he was pushed by substitute Rodolphe Noel. His penalty was placed straight-down the middle with power but failed to beat Joly who stood firm.

It would take until the 68th minute for us to find a second goal to restore parity to the contest. Cedric Makutungu's lofted ball found the head of Lenny Leonil who netted his second goal of the afternoon. That would quickly become three and a hat-trick for the young Frenchman when he was on the end of Muani's cross to finish from a couple of yards out.

Just over ten minutes from time, Leonil made a well-timed run to ensure he remained onside as he latched onto Makutungu's ball to score a fourth of the game. Randal Kolo Muani would wrap-up the scoring though with an effort from the edge of the area as we booked our place in the next round with a thumping 5-1 victory.


LYON-DUCHÈRE 2 - Ezekian (pen, 50), Gandi (90+3)

US BOULOGNE 1 - Muani (85)

We fell to a heartbreaking defeat against Lyon-Duchère as Najib Gandi's strike in stoppage-time resulted in the hosts grabbing all three points.

Duchère enjoyed the majority of the chances in the first-half with Jonathan Rivas's strike that forced Riffi Mandanda into action perhaps being the standout opportunity of the opening forty-five minutes. Randal Kolo Muani also had an excellent chance to present us with the opening goal but failed to keep his composure as he flashed his effort over the bar.

The hosts were awarded a penalty within the opening few minutes of the second-half when Jackson Mendy was adjudged to have brought down Najib Gandi unfairly. This presented Matthieu Ezekian the chance to convert from twelve-yards as he powered his penalty in the top-right corner leaving Mandanda rooted to his spot.

Despite having the advantage, the hosts continued to push forward as they looked for a second goal to kill-off the game. Jeremy Grain saw his effort come flying off the bar whilst Jonathan Rivas's header from a free-kick was just a whisker away from finding the net.

Both Kolo Muani and Maël Illien were presented with opportunities to equalise but were denied by the fantastic goalkeeping of Maxime Hautbois from close-range. The former would convert five minutes from time however as it seemed as though we had rescued a late point at the very minimum. The aforementoned Illien linked-up with the striker as Matthias Serin was slipped-in. The winger's effort was parried but only into the path of Muani.

There was to be one last twist in the tale though. With claims of offside from the Boulogne players and staff that sent head-coach Amie Belshaw into a frenzy on the touchline, Najib Gandi scored in the third of four added-on minutes to win the game for La Duch. Jordan Pierre-Charles's header found the midfielder who tucked his effort home from a free-kick.


US BOULOGNE 0

US CONCARNEAU 0

A 0-0 draw against struggling US Concarneau followed as the visitors were seemingly content to park the bus and limit us to shots from outside the area as they packed the area with bodies. As a result, the game featured absolutely no attacking action whatsoever with all three of our shots on-target coming from wayward attempts. A frustrating day that lead local press to label Concarneau as a side that "epitomise everything wrong with football," with others calling them an "anti-football opponent."

Meanwhile, Amie Belshaw commented: "They came with a clear game-plan and executed it to perfection. It might not be a style of football that many agree with but at this moment in time they need points on the board and against a side at the top, I can understand the thought process. We lacked that clinical ball today, but it was extremely difficult given the circumstances. Although I won't stand here and criticise them for it at all."


ES SEGRÉ HA FOOTBALL 1 - Royer (76)

US BOULOGNE 3 - Traoré (1, 22, 36)

October was rounded-off with further action in the French Cup against ES Segré HA Football. The side was rotated similarly to the previous round with Ibrahima Traoré benefiting from a run-out against the lower-league side as he accompanied Lenny Leonil up-front and claimed a hat-trick in a 3-1 win.

Traoré bagged his first of the afternoon just thirty seconds into the game when Matthias Serin's cross picked-out the 22-year-old before his header looped over the helpless home goalkeeper and in. He would add his second after just twenty minutes, a long-ball wasn't dealt with and subsequently allowed Traoré to latch on and comfortably finish.

He would complete a first-half hat-trick in the 35th minute. Traoré slipped past his man with relative ease before sliding the ball low into the right-hand corner. The goal marked his first professional hat-trick in his career.

The hosts did manage to pull one back in the second-half when Regis Nicolas was given far too much space to send in a dangerous cross for Antonin Royer who had only come on just five minutes prior. However, it would be Traoré and L'USBCO who would be celebrating at the full-time whistle as we sealed our place in the next round of the competition.


League Table



AS Béziers extend their lead at the top of the Championnat National by two after we dropped four points over the course of October. We do find ourselves five points ahead of third-placed Gazélec Ajaccio however, as Le Gaz obtained just two points from their last three games to leave Le Puy Foot 43 just a point behind.

At the bottom, SC Toulon remained at the foot of the table in spite of a recent 1-0 victory against US Avranches that saw them record their first three points of the season. Bourg en Bresse find themselves second-to-bottom after a dismal start to the season continued. USL Dunkerque and Pau enjoyed a couple of victories in October but they remain as part of the bottom four. They sit level on points on eleven with US Concarneau who have managed to draw eight of their opening twelve games.

Player of the Month



Rayan Frikeche has claimed the Player of the Month award for October after a constant display of impressive performances.

Amie Belshaw:
"Rayan is perhaps one of the most underappreciated players in the division. He has a tremendous work-rate and is the work-horse of the team. His role is often neglected in general but he has been integral to our early success

Rayan provides extra cover for our defence, but also acts as the driving-force between the two lines of attack and defence. His experience of this level having played for US Avranches last season has been a massive aid. He's a fantastic tutor for some of the younger players especially those like Marco Cato [who featured in the victory against ES Segré HA Football] who plays a very similar role in some ways."

Fixtures



There are five games to play in November before the season begins to wind-down ahead of the winter-break at the end of December. We open with a trip to mid-table side US Avranches before an all-important clash with league-leaders AS Béziers at the Stade de la Libération.

Our attention then turns to the French Cup as we are on the road once again with a game against Racing CFF. Red Star Paris then entertain us at the Stade Bauer before we return home with a game against FC Bastia-Borgo. An important set of games await.

Aaron: Merci! It's been a great start but there's plenty of action left to be played. It's a marathon not a sprint at the end of the day! We have to ensure this run continues and as you'll see, there have been some signs of us flattering to deceive lately. November could be a crucial month.

Credit to Justice for providing the graphic at the start of this update. His work is very much appreciated.
Great to see you doing so well in the cup, looking forward to seeing if you can make it through to the 8th round! Everyone loves a cup run. Some great performances in the league too, only losing once. Quickly staking your claim for promotion candidates.
Next month is going to be massive, with that game against Béziers looking like an early title indicator. Already pushing away from third so lets hope we can see a win against the current leaders. The results are certainly improving and becoming a lot more convincing. Looking forward to seeing that continue!

Amie Belshaw made the leap of faith to transition from the women’s game to the men’s game when she was appointed as Championnat National side US Boulogne’s head-coach in the summer. We caught up with her after the first three months of her tenure...

US Boulogne are a club whose history primarily lies within the second tier of French football, Ligue 2, but having been relegated from the division in the 2011/12 season, L’USBCO have been confined to the third-tier since. It has been a dramatic fall for a club who plied their trade in the top-flight of France just two seasons prior in their only appearance in Ligue 1 to date. Coached by Laurent Guyot, the club surrounded by picturesque beauty in the north of France that celebrates its well-known fishing port, were relegated having finished in nineteenth; nine points adrift of Saint-Étienne who finished comfortably above the bottom three.

Since, it’s been season-after-season of struggle for Boulogne as they continue to struggle in the depths of the third-tier, unable to make their triumphant return to Ligue 2 in spite of the efforts of four separate managers prior to the appointment of Belshaw. Financial limitations have seemingly contributed with the club having to tone-down its operations as they made the move to become semi-professional in recent years whilst clubs such as Red Star Paris and current league-leaders, AS Béziers have demonstrated their financial abilities by operating on a full-time basis instead. Consequently, this has made the division much more harder to compete in as the years have gone by from a Boulogne perspective with the budgets and appeal of opposition clubs increasing seemingly on a yearly basis whilst Boulogne continue to stagnate.

The appointment of the former Lionesses head-coach came as a surprise to many as her appointment notably attracted the attention of the French media. Belshaw was keen to dismiss the involvement of the press from the get-go however and the cameras have, on the most part, been absent from the confines of the Stade de la Libération, the home of US Boulogne since the stadium opened in 1956. The 15,000 capacity ground underwent modernisation in 2006 that eventually saw the ground increase its capacity to the aforementioned figure in 2009, but has largely maintained its traditional aspects.

Under the stewardship of Belshaw, L’USBCO have enjoyed unexpected success so far this season that leaves the club sat second in the Championnat National. They maintain an important five-point advantage over the team directly behind them, Gazélec Ajaccio, after twelve games with eight wins to their name.

The National is played out over the course of August-May with each team playing each other twice with teams having played 34 league fixtures at the end of the season. The top-two are automatically promoted to Ligue 2 whilst third are consigned to the play-off against the team who finish third-bottom in the second-tier. The bottom four in the National are automatically relegated to one of the four National 2 divisions which are loosely-based on geographical region and location and consists of a range of amateur and semi-professional clubs with reserve teams also introduced at this level.

The achievements of Boulogne are somewhat unexpected despite the pedigree that Belshaw brings with her managerial prowess. In a ‘season preview’ article written by L’Equipe, Boulogne were expected to finish in mid-table mediocrity with a predicted finish of ninth.

Belshaw’s methods have quickly been put to task by her players as they implement a possession-based approach with an impetuous to attack. An approach that can be labelled as an ‘all-or-nothing approach’ from the first whistle to the last. This has become a staple of Belshaw’s tactical-game and has remained as evident as ever upon her return to France and debut in the men’s game with L’USBCO maintaining the highest possessional average (54%) in the division with only Béziers having scored more goals (21 to 17).

Despite heralding such an approach, the defensive results have also been impressive for Boulogne over the course of the opening twelve games. L’USBCO have conceded the joint-fewest goals in the division so far (6) alongside Stade Lavallois who are coached by ex-Boulogne coach Olivier Frapolli. The Lavallois head-coach made the controversial decision to leave his post in Boulogne to take up the role in the Mayenne capital in the summer.

Goalkeeper Riffi Mandanda, the younger brother of Steve Mandanda who has been capped thirty-two times by the French national team, has been ever-present this season and has been instrumental to the defensive success. The 27-year-old has arguably been one of the standout players in the entirety of the division having kept an impressive eight clean-sheets.

Released by Caen in 2015, he joined AC Ajaccio for the next three seasons where he played fifty-five times in the second-tier before dropping to the third-tier in 2018 with Boulogne. Capped once by DR Congo, Mandanda’s contract is due to expire in the summer and negotiations are taking place in regard to extending his stay at the club.

When asked about her thoughts on the season so far, Belshaw commented with a smile: “I’m really pleased with how things have panned-out up to this point. I didn’t anticipate this level of success to begin with as I thought it would take time for my ideas to really translate onto the pitch but perhaps I underestimated the squad upon that evaluation. It’s evident in our performances that they’ve taken to my ideas much swifter than I anticipated and it has resulted in a tremendous start to the season which we are keen to maintain.

Performances continue to improve and we’re only getting better I feel. That needs to continue to translate into results though. The players are continuing to work hard and their effort cannot be questioned. I’m working with a great crop of players and it’s a pleasure to manage them.”


Belshaw was unable to make any signings following her appointment with a lack of financial support available to her. Yet she admits this wasn’t a concern for her.

“I understood that the chances of me managing to bring in fresh faces was extremely minimal. I could have brought in players but they wouldn’t have been the right players. They wouldn’t have fit my style of play nor would I have wanted to rush into making signings. Every deal must be evaluated with sheer scrutiny and I wouldn’t have been happy signing players without knowing they have been followed in great deal by our scouting team.”

Another aspect of US Boulogne’s season has been their progression in the Coupe de France that has guided them through to the seventh round of the extended tournament. The cup is known to be one of the most participated in competitions in world football with teams from outside of France in overseas departments and territories also invited to play such as Guadeloupe, Martinique and Reunion, with fourteen rounds played in total.

Territories such as Mayotte and New Caledonia have also been granted permission to allow the winner’s of their cup competitions to enter at the seventh round of the competition where clubs from Ligue 2 enter the competition.

Boulogne are set to take on Racing CFF for a place in the eighth round and the importance of the Coupe de France hasn’t been downplayed by Belshaw.

“A lot of people in our position would downplay the importance of the cup and would instead neglect the cup to focus on the domestic league season. I don’t see why we can’t take both seriously and look to succeed in both competitions as the financial aspect to the cup is extremely important to clubs like us, just as it is in England with the FA Cup for clubs in the lower divisions of the EFL and particularly in Non-League. A cup-run can really be the difference over the course of the next twelve to eighteen months, financially speaking.

We’ve faced plucky opposition in the opening couple of rounds and the experience is unique. They’re clubs and grounds that we are likely to never play against or visit again and so it takes us out of our comfort zone having to adapt to unusual surroundings. We’ve used these games as a means of introducing squad players to the team but we’ve done so with the upmost respect to the competition and our opponents.”


Finally, Belshaw commented on what the transition has been like between men’s and women’s football and how the general perception has been around her appointment.

“It’s been a challenge but one that I’ve welcomed with open arms. I was aware that I was going to be thrown-in at the deep-end so to speak. This sport is about risks and I had to take this one for the good of my career. I would have forever hated myself if I didn’t accept the opportunity afforded to me. The very best managers made leaps of faith to achieve what they did – look at Sir Alex Ferguson for example. I’m not comparing myself to Sir Alex,” she laughs, “but you get my point. You must take risks if you want to achieve things.

I’ve had to prove myself perhaps more so than most, but I expected that. It was an expectation I had in mind when I accepted the job and I slowly believe I’m proving myself to be competent at the very least. I’ve had to endure a lot of negative comments particularly online and even at the odd game from one or two away supporters but they’re a minority and I don’t let them get to me. I do my talking on the pitch through my team and at the moment we’re doing that effectively. It certainly helps my case.”


Aaron: The opposition has been largely poor up to this point. Racing are somewhat decent opponents but are still a couple of divisions below and therefore Boulogne go into the game as massive favourites. It'll be interesting to see how things fair should they progress and are paired with tougher opponents, what impact will it make to team selections that have featured squad and younger players up to this point?

Seb: The game against Béziers will undoubtedly be the stand-out clash from next month's run of games. The results have been very good so far and if they can continue to prolong this form, the gap between themselves and Ajaccio or whoever sits in third will only continue to increase. Béziers will be tough opposition given their early-season form.
Things are certainly going well for Amie. Scoring a lot of goals and defending equally as well, some great performances so far. Amie is right to focus on success wherever possible as the money from the cup could really benefit the club who have struggled financially in recent times.
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
2 weeksEdited


November prompted signs of struggle for L'USBCO for perhaps the first time this season. A 2-0 victory against FC Bastia-Borgo went someway into rescuing what had been a poor month of football after a tremendous start to the season. Although it is telling that a month that brought just one loss from four games is being labelled a 'poor month,' you could argue.

The most important game of the month was undoubtedly our clash with AS Béziers that ended in a 1-1 draw at the Stade de la Libération. This followed an exciting affair away against US Avranches that concluded with the scoreline reading at three apiece. The only loss of the month came upon our visit to Red Star Paris with Medhi Chadiri's first-half strike providing the difference in a 1-0 defeat. This was quickly rectified in our aforementioned victory over Bastia-Borgo as we ended November with five points from a possible twelve.

US AVRANCHES 3 - Farnabe (34, 48), Essende (54)

US BOULOGNE 3 - Muani (1), Scarramozzino (45), Mendy (88)

Goals were seemingly always set to be on the agenda when we travelled to Avranches with the statistics pointing a high-scoring game. However, the statistics likely didn't point to a game that resulted in a 3-3 at the Stade René Fénouillére with the scoreline being broken by Randal Kolo Muani after just 34 seconds from a lobbed ball delivered by Steve Shamal that enabled the forward to round the keeper with ease.

The first-half continued to deliver its share of goals when the hosts equalised. A cross from the right-hand side was never fully cleared by the Boulogne defence that resulted in the ball eventually making its way to Julien Farnabe who made no mistake from close-range. Yet the scores would change once again just before the break as Anthony Scarramozzino bent a well-struck free-kick into the top-right corner from the edge of the area.

Farnabe - who would later claim the Man of the Match award - would level the scores for a second-time in the opening exchanges of the second-half. A cross from Sebastian Chéré prompted the number ten to get in-front of Christian Senneville and knock the ball home. The hosts quickly established control from this point as they would take the lead for the first time in the encounter moments later. The goalscorer turned provider as this time Samuel Essende was on-hand to convert.

There could be no arguments from our perspective that we didn't deserve to be behind as the hosts looked set to record a massive three points in their quest to distance themselves from the relegation-zone. However, Jackson Mendy had other ideas. A free-kick from Anthony Scarramozzino was perfectly-weighted for the head of the defender who left Anthony Beuve flapping with the ball already nestling in the back of the net a couple of minutes from time. A point gained in the end from a Boulogne perspective.


US BOULOGNE 1 - Muani (71)

AS BÉZIERS 1 - Elissalt (18)

Perhaps the most important game in the opening half of the league season, we were held to a 1-1 draw as AS Béziers visited the Stade de la Libération with us keen to reduce the deficit at the top of the division. It would be the visitors who opened the scoring though after some early pressure was eventually rewarded. Jack Lahne passed-up an excellent opportunity inside the opening five minutes but Victor Elissalt wasn't to make the same mistake. His initial header from a floated cross deflected kindly for the 28-year-old as he slammed the ball home on the second attempt.

The goal prompted some life into the players after a weary display in the opening fifteen to twenty minutes. Randal Kolo Muani came close to equalising after just over half an hour when his header met the crossbar from close-range. The forward would come close once again in the second-half as his header once again failed to find the net but this time went over the bar. This followed a spell of attacks from the visitors that failed to test Riffi Mandanda but remained a constant threat nonetheless.

Muani would eventually be rewarded for his persistence. A botched clearance fell to Steve Shamal who directed the ball into the path of the Nantes loanee who converted. Béziers continued to live dangerously with their desire to continue to play out from the back, but they had the best opportunity to win the game when François-Xavier Fumu-Tamuzo went through on goal but was denied by Mandanda at a tight-angle.

Ibrahima Traoré was also introduced to life in the Championnat National for the first-time as he replaced Said Idazza with approximately twenty minutes left to play. His league debut came following his hat-trick in the 3-1 victory against ES Segré HA Football in the Coupe de France last month.


RED STAR PARIS 1 - Chahiri (6)

US BOULOGNE 0

An early-goal from Mehdi Chahiri was enough to settle the spoils as we travelled to Paris to take on Red Star. The winger took the ball down from David Oberhauser's goal-kick before charging at a retreating Boulogne defence that failed to commit themselves into a challenge on the 23-year-old. Chahiri managed to come inside before unleashing his effort on goal that struck the post before crashing into the opposing goal-post and crossing the line leaving Riffi Mandanda in disbelief as he lay grounded.

An equaliser failed to come to fruition despite an array of chances in the first-half. Guillaume Beghin was presented with the best chance when his header from close-range somehow failed to find the target as it soared over the bar. He would be presented with another excellent opportunity in the second-half but not before more missed chances on our account. The hosts would have chances of their own also, but failed to make them count.

With ten minutes to go, the central-midfielder found himself baring-down on goal but hesitated in taking his shot. This gave the Red Star defence and more specifically Djiman Koukou time to recover and make a last-ditch challenge to prevent the ball from heading towards goal in a magnificent challenge that resulted in a meaningless corner. A disappointing afternoon for L'USBCO it has to be said as Red Star continued their push to improve their current league position in a bid to make an immediate return to Ligue 2 once again.


US BOULOGNE 2 - Muani (3, 8)

FC BASTIA-BORGO 0

Our only victory over the course of November came as a result of two quick-fire strikes from Randal Kolo Muani in the opening ten minutes of the game against FC Bastia-Borgo who continue to struggle in their maiden campaign in the Championnat National.

After some clever, intricate play between Christian Senneville and Matthias Serin, the ball was played back to Jackson Mendy who knocked the ball over the top of the Bastia-Borgo defence to allow Muani to time his run and finish excellently past Maxime Cassara. He would be on-hand to score his second just six minutes later when he was unmarked in the box from a Matthias Serin cross. He then had the easiest of finishes to double our lead.

Muani would be denied by Cassara as he sought for his first career hat-trick, whilst Ibrahima Traoré also came close to opening his account in his first-start for the club in a league fixture. The visitors were limited to five shots throughout the entirety of the game with every one of those attempts coming within the final fifteen minutes to highlight the dominance L'USBCO had over the game against an opponent whose direct-play simply failed in execution against a much-improved back-line in this game following some questionable displays.


League Table



Despite a stuttering month, we remain just three points behind league-leaders AS Béziers who also succumbed to struggles as of late with a similar record of just one win from their last four games. Gazélec Ajaccio reduced the gap down to four points on the top-two after victories against US Avranches and Concarneau at the start of the month. Lyon-Duchére enjoyed nine points from a possible twelve to move to within five points following victories against Ajaccio, Le Puy Foot and Avranches.

SC Toulon remain in a perilous position at the bottom of the Championnat National with just nine points to their name. They are now seven points adrift of the sides above them, US Avranches and USL Dunkerque, who aren't too cut adrift of the sides above them at this moment in time. Pau continue to remain stuck inside in the relegation-zone for the time being as Bourg en Bresse, SO Cholet and Stade Lavallois sit just two and three points clear of the bottom four, respectively.

Player of the Month



Randal Kolo Muani has won the club's Player of the Month award for November after scoring four goals in four games over the course of the month, including a brace against FC Bastia-Borgo.

Amie Belshaw:
"Randal is one of the best strikers in the league. I don't think anyone can deny that statement given how he has performed this month. He is beginning to show the quality he has in his locker after making the adjustment to the division. I think a lot of people are quick to underestimate or misunderstand the jump between youth football and football at this level on a weekly-basis. It's a big adjustment that needs to be made and I'm pleased to see Randal has started to get into the stride of things after a bit of an inconsistent start.

We are fortunate to have two excellent forwards that know where the goal is. Both Randal and Said [Idazza] will be essential to any success we enjoy this season. I'm often in contact with the Nantes head-coach, Christian Gourcuff, about his progression. They realise the prospect they have on their hands over there and they're keen to maintain his development. We're very pleased we have Randal's services until the end of the season, it's a massive boost."

Fixtures



Our re-arranged clash with Racing CFF opens up the festive period as we look to wrap-up 2019 in the right way. Should we win, we will then travel to Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot in the eighth round of the Coupe de France a few days later. We then return to league action against Quevilly-Rouen before Olivier Frapolli makes his return to the Stade de la Libération for the first-time since leaving the club in the summer. The former head-coach is under increasing pressure at Lavallois following a dismal start to the season that leaves them hovering precariously above the relegation-zone.

Seb: The Bastia-Borgo result aside, the team seemed to have forgotten how to defend competently this month! Hopefully this is just a stumbling-block and not an indication as to what's to come.

Credit to Justice for providing the graphic at the start of this update. His work is very much appreciated.
hopefully 6 points in the next month for you and a win in the cup as well
Excellent stuff so far mate, and really well written of course - can see Amie going far here!
ScottT's avatar Group ScottT
1 weekEdited


The Coupe de France took centre-stage as we entered the final month of the year. A trip to Racing CFF in the seventh round rewarded us with further progression and a trip to Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot just three days later in our toughest test to date in this year's competition. A double from Said Idazza was enough to see L'USBCO preveil against the odds, subsequently setting up a tie against Stade de Reims in the ninth round as the Ligue 1 side travel to the Stade de la Libération next month.

Following a two-week hiatus, we returned to league action three weeks removed from our previous encounter against Bastia-Borgo as we were held to a 0-0 draw against Stade Lavallois. The same scoreline was present at the full-time whistle against Quevilly-Rouen (re-arranged for this date following a waterlogged pitch two weeks prior). The hosts would hold on for a vital point in spite of playing the entirety of the second-half with ten men.

RACING CFF 1 - Mountasser (78)

US BOULOGNE 2 - Shamal (63), Idazza (64)

We travelled to fifth-tier side Racing CFF confident that we could book our place in the next round in relatively comfortable fashion as we fielded our strongest eleven for the game. The first-half failed to deliver much action in a rather dull opening forty-five minutes, however Said Idazza will have been disappointed not to have given us the lead around the half-hour mark. He was slipped in behind the opposition's back-line but only managed to find the side-netting with his effort.

Instead, the second-half provided the entertainment for the 388 spectators that gathered at the Stade Yves du Manoir. Steve Shamal found the breakthrough for us after 63 minutes when his corner evaded everyone inside the box. Meddy Lina's subsequent retrieval of possession and ball back into the six-yard box eventually paid off when Illien teed-up his teammate to blast the ball home.

From the resulting kick-off, the hosts lost possession rather naively and presented Said Idazza the opportunity to latch onto Jackson Mendy's ball forward. The Moroccan dribbled past his man and slotted the ball into the bottom corner of the goal from the edge of the area to give us a quick-fire double.

The hosts weren't to be defeated easily though and would find a goal to bring them back into the tie twelve minutes from time. A direct ball into the area enabled Nassim Mountasser to chest the ball down and thrash the ball past a helpless Riffi Mandanda. However, the goal would prove to be nothing more than merely a consolation as we secured our progression and began preparing for Clermont Foot in just a few days time.


CLERMONT FOOT 1 - Iglesias (24)

US BOULOGNE 2 - Idazza (17, 27)

Only three days separated our game against Racing CFF from this latest challenge as we travelled to the Stade Gabriel-Montpied in search of a 'cupset.' The challenge of playing a team in the division above as well as the physical advantage they had as a result of being a full-time outfit and having not played just three days prior culminated in the hosts having a huge advantage in the tie pre-game.

Supported by a travelling band of 217 supporters, we took the lead after seventeen minutes. Maxime Dupé's goal-kick was severely underhit in its search for its intended target and led Remy Duterte into extracting possession. He played a clever through-ball behind the Clermont defence to allow Said Idazza to strike past the former Nantes keeper as he failed to get enough on the ball to stop it from finding the net.

The hosts, who sat in sixteenth in Ligue 2 at the time, were shaken. Said Idazza had to be denied from close-range to prevent Clermont from trailing by two goals just a few minutes later. That prospect seemed to awaken them from their slumber as this time Dupé's long-ball forward was insufficiently dealt with by Jackson Mendy who inadvertently headed the ball straight into the path of Jonathan Iglesias who made no mistake in converting to level the tie.

Clermont's problems throughout the game seemed to be self-inflicted rather than created by Boulogne though. A long-ball forward from Rayan Frikeche split the defence like a knife through butter and Said Idazza had the most simple of finishes to make as he rolled the ball past an infuriated Dupé as his defenders looked on with disgust at one-another.

Randal Kolo Muani almost secured our advantage when his header narrowly went over from inside the six-yard box from a well-timed cross. It was growing increasingly apparent that L'USBCO were dictating the game as they wished.

Our focus was simply to ensure we held on for much of the second-half and consequently chances were few and far between in an extremely professional performance on our part. The hosts had one fantastic opportunity to level when Adrian Grbic's header fell just wide but aside from this, Clermont looked dejected and defeated from the moment the second goal was converted.

The job was done. Amie Belshaw and her players celebrated as they booked their place in the ninth round of the Coupe de France. A fantastic achievement against a well-established Ligue 2 side.


US BOULOGNE 0

STADE LAVALLOIS MFC 0

The main talking-point ahead of our clash against Stade Lavallois was the return of Olivier Frapolli as the Lavallois head-coach was greeted to a frosty atmosphere as he took his position in the opposition dugout for the first-time at the Stade de la Libération following his sudden departure from the club in the summer.

The spoils would be shared at the end of a game of two-halves. Randal Kolo Muani was the star of the show in the opening forty-five minutes as he looked to be the main threat in terms of breaking the deadlock. A deep free-kick towards the back-post found the Nantes loanee but he couldn't divert his effort past Valentin Belon as it struck the outside of the post and trickled behind.

Both Muani and later Jackson Mendy were left to wonder how they failed to convert on two separate occasions. The former failed to beat Belon from close-range on the half-volley whereas Mendy attacked a free-kick in his usual powerful manner but failed to guide his header and instead watched the ball sail over the cross-bar in frustrating fashion.

The visitors did convert in the 70th minute but saw the goal ruled out for offside. The call was to be the correct one from the official as Youssouf Ndiaye was fractionally offside. Yet this didn't deter them in their search for the opener. Selim Bouadla saw his effort cannon off the post five minutes later at the near post. The ball almost deflected into the path of Sandy Nzuzi but Christian Senneville reacted quickest to scramble the ball to safety.

Following a barrage of chants throughout the game directed towards him, largely consisting of "Tu te fais virer le matin" (Translation: You're getting sacked in the morning) in relation to his insecure position in Mayenne that has been a topic of discussion amongst supporters, Olivier Frapolli almost had the last laugh deep into additional time. Bira Dembélé's glancing header flew just wide of the far-post from a corner as the referee called time on the game upon the ball's final destination.


QUEVILLY-ROUEN 0 - Bennedine sent off (45)

US BOULOGNE 0

Whilst it could not be denied that our current league position read kindly, there needed to be an improvement in results quickly. Ahead of our clash against Quevilly, we had won just one of our last eight games in the Championnat National in a fairly worrying statistic for any club seeking to maintain their aspirations of promotion at the end of the season.

That statistic would only read more worryingly come the full-time whistle in Le Petit-Quevilly as we were once again held to a goalless draw despite the hosts playing the entirety of the second-half with ten men as Mehdi Bennedine was sent-off on the stroke of half-time for a clumsy, needless challenge on Christian Senneville.

Our efforts couldn't be faulted however. Randal Kolo Muani and Said Idazza both had glorious opportunities to convert in the first-half with Idazza in particular missing a guilt-edged chance. The hero in our Coupe de France victory over Clermont Foot seemed to be lacking his usual goalscoring prowess as he stalled in taking his shot and then when he did, only managed to hit his shot tamely at the goalkeeper.

The hosts were largely condemned to sitting-back for most of the game, yet did call Riffi Mandanda into action when Moussa Guel's pace was too much for the Boulogne defence to handle. His subsequent effort was struck well but Mandanda was well-positioned to deny the winger.

Our luck in the game was rather summed up five minutes from time. Remy Duterte's free-kick from the edge of the area was perfectly hit and was destined for the back of the net until Louis Souchaud stretched to make a fingertip save to tip the ball onto the post. An agonising moment for L'USBCO as they were left to rue earlier chances in the game.


League Table



December was the month of inconsistency for the sides at the top of the Championnat National as none of the top four managed to gain more than three points of the six on offer. AS Béziers fell to a 4-0 drubbing at the hands of US Avranches following their victory against Lyon-Duchére resulting in their lead extending by just a solitary point.

Gazélec Ajaccio managed just a single point and subsequently fall five points adrift of L'USBCO in second with Lyon-Duchére unable to take advantage of Le Gaz's recent failings to dislodge them from third. US Concarneau's recent form has seen them move up into sixth with five wins from their last six. They sit narrowly behind Le Puy Foot 43 with the two just one and two points off the pace, respectively.

The teams condemned to the bottom four did little to dispell the misery that surrounds them at this moment in time. None of the four teams that sit in the bottom four at the end of the year managed to find a magical three points to aid their woes with SC Toulon looking more and more likely for an imminent return to the fourth-tier.

USL Dunkerque and Pau remain in the relegation zone, whilst SO Cholet occupy the final spot after US Avranches gained an invaluable three points against AS Béziers.

Player of the Month



Said Idazza has claimed December's Player of the Month award. His double against Clermont Foot will be fondly remembered at the end of the season as we progressed in the Coupe de France. These two goals added to his strike in our 2-1 victory against Racing CFF leaving Said on three goals from four games at the end of December.

Amie Belshaw:
"I've spoken about Said's qualities before and I don't need to discuss them again. He has an ability to step-up when you need him to most and he demonstrated that ability against Clermont Foot. It was a magical day for the football club. The cup has a lot of importance to club's like us and I've spoken about that in great detail before today, too.

I'm relying on Said and Randal [Kolo Muani] to perform in the coming weeks and months. We need everyone to be at the top of their game but we need these two to be the difference makers. They're two players we have in our arsenal that can be the difference that a club needs to succeed."

Fixtures



The new year opens in spectacular fashion for L'USBCO as the Coupe de France clash against Stade de Reims is set to be the opening clash of 2020 for the club. The visitors currently sit seventh in Ligue 1 under the management of David Guion who has experience of Boulogne following his six-month spell as assistant manager to Georges Tournay in 2012 as the club were relegated to the Championnat National.

Subsequent progression will result in an additional game to be played two weeks later, otherwise we are scheduled to face struggling USL Dunkerque at the Stade Marcel Tribut on Friday 17th January. This proceeds the visit of US Créteil-Lusitanos who are one of just three clubs to have beaten us this season having triumphed 2-1 at the Stade Dominique Duvauchelle in late-August.

tedbro20: It wasn't to be in regards to the league but our cup run does continue!
Joe: Much appreciated.

Credit to Justice for providing the graphic at the start of this update. His work is very much appreciated.
Seems to be a really mixed couple of months there with no real consistency. Really good results in the cup though and progression in that with a massive result against Clermont. The draw hasn't been very kind at all but hopefully you can pull of another shock!
Amie's not used to being on top of things but it's nice to see her keep clean sheets in the last few weeks.

Union Sportive de Boulogne-sur-Mer Côte d'Opale can confirm that midfielder Rayan Frikeche will be departing the club come the end of his contract this summer to join Domino's Ligue 2 side Racing Club de Lens.

Frikeche joined L'USBCO in the summer on a free transfer from US Avranches having featured thirty times for Frédéric Reculeau's men last season and has been pivotal to the club's success this season having been an ever-present figure in the starting eleven making sixteen appearances.

It therefore comes as little surprise that the 28-year-old Moroccan has attracted the attention of suitors from the second-tier of French football as well as from clubs in Belgium in recent months. The club's chairman, Reinold Delattre, would like to put on record his tireless efforts to re-negotiate a new deal with Rayan, however understandably the offer from Lens was too attractive for him to turn down and reluctantly the club will be without his services at the end of the 2019/20 season.

Lens are currently sit second in Domino's Ligue 2 behind En Avant de Guingamp on goal difference only. Sang et Or's stature in the French game is unprecedented and the club wish to fully support Rayan in his decision given the incentive of potential Ligue 1 football next season being a very real possibility for Lens after a four-year absence from the top-flight.

Rayan has maintained that he will be as determined as ever to support the club in their bid to win promotion from the Championnat National this season. He will continue to be a part of the club's plans up until the conclusion of his deal at the Stade de la Libération.

Once again the club would like to support Rayan in his decision and wish him the best of luck following the conclusion of his deal but look forward to his continued contribution to our promotion bid in the short-term.

Seb: It's been a tough couple months indeed for the squad and for Amie. There definitely have to be some changes to the way things are approached as results seem to be sliding a little from the standard that was being setting in the opening few months of the season. It would be a shame to see the team surrender their good position. The cup has been fantastic though and similarly to the FA Cup, the magic of the cup is very much alive. You can never rule a victory out of the equation. It will be a tough ask though.

Justice: Plenty of reason for optimism should the goals start to flow a bit more regularly.

You are reading "Amie Belshaw: A Woman on a Mission".

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