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EFFECTIVE DARMSTADT EDGE CRUNCH PROMOTION CLASH

FC St. Pauli slipped to a 2-1 home defeat against SV Darmstadt on Saturday evening. Luca Pfeiffer and Fabian Holland fired the extremely effective Lilies into a half-time lead in front of a capacity crowd at the Millerntor. The Boys in Brown dominated the proceedings after the interval but squandered several decent opportunities before Lukas Daschner pulled one back nine minutes from time. Unfortunately, it was not enough.

Head coach Timo Schultz made two adjustments from the 1-1 draw at Sandhausen for the top-of-the-table clash with Darmstadt. Rico Benatelli did not feature in the squad and was replaced in the starting lineup by Finn Ole Becker, who began on the right-hand side of the diamond, with Jackson Irvine operating as a No6. In addition, Daniel-Kofi Kyereh returned from injury to take up his customary position in attacking midfield. That resulted in Etienne Amenyido moving up alongside Guido Burgstaller up front, with Simon Makienok dropping to the bench.

As in the last home game against Werder Bremen, the atmosphere created by both sets of fans inside another capacity crowd at the Millerntor was electric well before kick-off. The two teams set a fast tempo from the off in a high-intensity opening that saw the visitors take the lead with the first chance of the game on nine minutes. Darmstadt broke down the right and a low ball into the box by Phillip Tietz was converted by the unmarked Luca Pfeiffer at the far post. The home faithful responded with a resounding rendition of Aux Armes, prompting the Boys in Brown to step up a gear and fashion their first opening of the game in the 14th minute. Daniel-Kofi Kyereh collected a Leart Paqarada throw-in and shrugged off the attentions of his marker before pulling the trigger from just outside the box in the inside-left channel, only to see his effort fizz narrowly the wrong side of the near post and into the side-netting.

It took a while for the Schultz XI to carve out their next opportunity in the 23rd minute when Finn Ole Becker teed up Etienne Amenyido with a delicate chip in behind the Darmstadt defence. Amenyido met it first time on the volley from a narrow angle, but Lilies keeper Marcel Schuhen gathered the ball safely. Amenyido had another sniff of an equaliser six minutes later when he latched onto a low ball in from Guido Burgstaller, only to see Matthias Bader slide in to block his shot at the last moment. Soon after that the striker was in the thick of things again. Paqarada knocked a corner long and Kyereh headed it back into the middle to Amenyido, whose overhead kick was blocked before landing in the arms of Schuhen.

A goal was in the air and it came two minutes later – but at the other end. Fabian Holland delivered a corner into the box and when it was played back to him by Bader he smashed it first time with the outside of his foot towards the far post. Nikola Vasilj got a hand to it but was unable to prevent the ball flying into the top right-hand corner. At the other end, Adam Dźwigała tried his luck from distance following a free-kick but his effort cleared the crossbar by some distance. That was the last action of the half and Boys in Brown went in two down against a Darmstadt side who took the two chances on offer with clinical efficiency.

Guido Burgstaller under challenge from Tobias Kempe.

Guido Burgstaller under challenge from Tobias Kempe.

Darmstadt came out unchanged for the second half, while Timo Schultz made two changes, introducing Luca Zander and Lukas Daschner for Adam Dźwigała and Etienne Amenyido. The Boys in Brown came flying out of the traps and soon had an opportunity to pull one back at the end of a fine move involving Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, Lukas Daschner and Marcel Hartel. The ball eventually found its way to Guido Burgstaller on the left-hand side of the box, but he screwed his shot wide of the goal. It remained one-way traffic in the opening ten minutes, with the visitors sitting in deep and waiting for a chance to break.

In the 54th minute the Schultz XI created another decent opportunity when Becker knocked the ball out wide to Paqarada on the left. His perfectly dispatched cross found the unmarked Daschner, but his header from eight metres flew agonisingly wide of the right-hand upright. The Boys in Brown have been very effective in front of goal this season, but this was not their best evening, it has to be said. Nevertheless, they kept plugging away, forcing Darmstadt to resort to hoofing the ball clear in the hope of relieving the pressure with the odd foray into the St. Pauli half.

Another rapid counterthrust in the 63rd minute saw the ball end up with Daschner, whose powerfully struck drive was turned round the post by Schuhen. The resulting corner was headed clear by Patric Pfeiffer, but only as far as Kyereh, who opted to hit it first time on the volley, only to see the ball fly a whisker past the right-hand post. It looked like it was going to be of those evenings. Soon after Hartel cut inside from the left and pulled the trigger, but the shot was too central and proved no problem for Schuhen. Then, the visitors almost made it 3-0 out of the blue. A cross to the far post was knocked back across goal by substitute Mathias Honsak for Mehlem to shoot from five metres. Vasilj had had almost nothing to do all evening despite conceding twice but he was alert to the danger and saved with his foot. Five minutes later he was well placed to keep out a long-range effort from Tietz just after Hartel had had another go from 18 metres. This time the shot went wide.

With 15 minutes to go Schultz threw on Christopher Buchtmann for Marcel Hartel, who like Jackson Irvine had picked up his fifth yellow card and will be suspended against Nürnberg. Tobias Kempe had the next chance for Darmstadt, but dragged his shot wide from the edge of the box. Back at the other end, Becker delivered a cross to Buchtmann at the far post. The midfielder met it first time but was unable to steer his shot on target. The pressure remained relentless, and Burgstaller was denied by Schuhen before directing a shot past the right-hand upright. A goal was long overdue by now and it finally arrived in the 81st minute. A Buchtmann cross was flicked on by Burgstaller to the far post, where Daschner was perfectly placed to halve the deficit.

The Millerntor was really rocking now and Schultz went all in seven minutes from the end of regulation time with the introduction of two strikers in Simon Makienok and Igor Matanović for Jackson Irvine and Finn Ole Becker. His team threw everything at it in the closing stages and fashioned a few chances, including one for Kyereh, who was thwarted by Schuhen in the fourth minute of time added on. The equaliser would not come, however, and the Boys in Brown found themselves on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline against a clinical Darmstadt outfit.

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Dźwigała (Zander 46'), Ziereis, Medić, Paqarada - Irvine (Matanović 83'), Hartel (Buchtmann 75'), Becker (Makienok 83'), Kyereh - Amenyido (Daschner 46'), Burgstaller

Head coach: Timo Schultz

 

SV Darmstadt 98

Schuhen - Bader, P. Pfeiffer, Isherwood, Holland - Gjasula, Skarke (Ronstadt 75'), Kempe (Karić 87'), Mehlem (Celić 75') - Tietz (Riedel 87'), L. Pfeiffer (Honsak 60')

Head coach (deputising for the suspended Torsten Lieberknecht): Ovid Hajou

 

Goals: 0-1 L. Pfeiffer (9'), 0-2 Holland (35'), 1-2 Daschner (81')

Yellow cards: Irvine, Hartel (5th yellow card for both), Ziereis – Skarke, Isherwood, Honsak

Referee: Sascha Stegemann (Niederkassel)

Attendance: 29,546 (sold out)

 

Photos: FC St. Pauli/Witters

 

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