The battle to gain promotion to the Eredivisie has begun with the first round of the Eerste Divisie playoffs. Review of all the action from Round One. 

  • By Lee Tierney
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sparta rThe heat on the two places in the playoffs for the two places in the top flight next season turns up a notch this week as the two teams who finished 16th and 17th in the Eredivisie join the fray. Two teams have already exited after first round defeats over two legs last week, both FC Eindhoven and Fortuna Sittard scraped into the play off places following positive  results in the last round of league fixtures but it proved a step too far.

Fortuna Sittard played host to De Graafschap in the first leg but the evening fell flat in front of a crowd of just under 5000 as Fortuna lost 4-1 giving themselves an almost impossible task in Doetinchem. In the other first round, first leg game, Eindhoven travelled to Sparta Rotterdam, Eindhoven had been around the top of the table for most of the season whilst Sparta qualified by winning period two (just ahead of Eindhoven) but since had been in wretched form, losing ten of their last thirteen games. A crowd of 5992 turned up to watch the first leg, and the majority were delighted when Finn Stokkers opened the scoring for the home side on 72 minutes, but Eindhoven silenced the Castle when Anthony van den Burk levelled the score in the last minute, setting up a tense second leg.

De Graafschap, as expected cruised into the next round as they won 3-1 in the second leg, and 7-2 on aggregate. However the night in Eindhoven did not go to plan for the home side. Despite not having tasted victory since a 2-1 win over Jong PSV in Eindhoven on the 3rd of February, Sparta arrived at the Jan Louwers Stadion in confident mood after drawing their last away game at 2nd placed Dordrecht and it showed when a Breur penalty put the visitors ahead before the break as Sparta looked a shadow of the team that lost 4-0 at Eindhoven in March, and rounded off a great night when Stokkers added a late second.

This week De Graafschap host Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk and Sparta Rotterdam welcome NEC. The rest of the Eerste Divisie qualifiers also join at this stage with VVV facing Dordrecht and Den Bosch entertaining Excelsior. The first legs of these matches will be played on Thursday with the return legs on Sunday.

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