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All of a sudden, football seems so easy again. The second win of the season was a long time coming, but the third came along very quickly. There's something positively different about the St. Pauli that emerged from the 'winter break'. Yet though the Boys in Brown climbed out of the drop zone at the weekend, it is vital they keep their mini-run going against Bochum on Thursday night (20:30 CET).

The 2-0 defeat of Jahn Regensburg marked not one but two firsts for Timo Schultz's side, it being their first clean sheet of the campaign and the first time they had recorded back-to-back wins. As an interim objective, it was pleasing to finish the first half of the season above the line, but there is still a long way to go and the onus is on the lads to continue their positive trend.

Having now played every team once, the Boys in Brown go again with no time to take a breather. Next up are VfL Bochum. In the reverse fixture on the opening day, two minutes were enough for Daniel-Kofi Kyereh to drag his side back from 2-0 down to take a point back to Hamburg. St. Pauli returned home with a moral victory, though Bochum will no doubt feel they have unfinished business. Timo Schultz's charges will also draw encouragement from their recent performances, the impact of the new signings and fit-again players, and the change in fortunes on the pitch.

For after that draw on the opening day, things went in different directions for the two teams. The Boys in the Brown need the points to escape from the bottom end of the table, while Bochum are dreaming of a return to the Bundesliga after an eleven-year absence. The visitors come to the Millerntor as a functioning unit who played together last season and have gelled as a collective. Maxim Leitsch and Armel Bella Kotchap are one of the best centre-back pairings in the second division, Anthony Losilla and Robert Tesche offer stability in midfield, and Robert Zulj and Simon Zoller contribute the goals on behalf of an astutely assembled squad.

Bochum coach Thomas Reis is in his first full season at the helm. His team have performed consistently since he took charge in September 2019 and are deservedly second in the table. A long-awaited return to the top flight of the Ruhr valley outfit, who rank 13th in the all-time Bundesliga table, is very much in their grasp thanks to his competent stewardship. On the other hand, the Boys in Brown have rediscovered the kind of form that could see them beat any team at this level. "We do think we have a chance of beating Bochum," said Timo Schultz. It would be an important victory. And the start of a genuine run.

Photos: Witters