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ALL SQUARE AGAINST LEADERS DARMSTADT

FC St. Pauli played out a 1-1 draw against league leaders SV Darmstadt 98 on Saturday night. A sell-out crowd at the Millerntor witnessed a hard-fought contest with chances at either end. Frank Ronstadt gave the visitors the lead on the hour before Lukas Daschner notched a deserved equaliser nine minutes later.

Head coach Timo Schultz named an unchanged side for the visit of the league leaders, electing to operate with a back three/five as in the previous three competitive fixtures. His counterpart Torsten Lieberknecht made one adjustment, Frank Ronstadt coming in for Emir Karic, who dropped to the bench. Before the game kicked off the South Stand unveiled an impressive tifo to mark the 20th anniversary of Ultrà Sankt Pauli.

The Boys in Brown sought to impose themselves on the game with bold attacking football from the off, Lukas Daschner operating up top alongside Etienne Amenyido as at Bielefeld and against Freiburg in the DFB Cup. Yet they almost came a cropper in the seventh minute when defender Betim Fazliji headed a Tobias Kempe free-kick towards his own goal. Fortunately for him and his teammates, Nikola Vasilj got his fingertips to the ball and it came back off the crossbar.

Marcel Hartel had the first attempt on goal for the home side with 12 minutes gone, cutting inside from the left and unloading from just outside the box. His shot was too central, however, and Marcel Schuhen made a comfortable save. The Schultz XI came a lot closer on 21 when Afeez Aremu unleashed a piledriver from 20 metres that the Darmstadt keeper could only parry to Hartel, but he didn’t catch the rebound right and the ball flew the wrong side of the upright.

The Boys in Brown had to contend with a number of set pieces and crosses in the ensuing period but combined in a collective effort to clear their lines. In turn, they constantly looked to launch attacks of their own, either by the frontmen winning possession or on the counter. The game became scrappier from the half-hour mark, with a flurry of challenges, especially in midfield, forcing referee Bastian Dankert to intervene. There were few chances of note in this phase, yet the first half remained an entertaining affair for long periods on account of its intensity.

Seven minutes before the interval, however, the Boys in Brown put a fine move together to create an opening - and what a chance it was! An exquisite pass found Etienne Amenyido, who with his back to the goal flicked it on first time into the path of the advancing Jackson Irvine. The Australian had only Schuhen to beat, but the keeper came out of his goal quickly to divert the shot off target. The Schultz XI had their best spell just before the break, the highlight of which came when Amenyido danced his way into the box from the right, only to see his shot deflected into the side netting by Patric Pfeiffer, ensuring it remained scoreless at the half.

The South Stand displayed a magnificent tifo before the game to mark 20 years of Ultrá Sankt Pauli.

The South Stand displayed a magnificent tifo before the game to mark 20 years of Ultrá Sankt Pauli.

The two sides emerged unchanged for the second period. Five minutes in, the home crowd breathed a collective sigh of relief when captain Leart Paqarada cleared a Christoph Zimmermann header off the line at the back post following a corner. The visitors made much the better start to the second 45 and pinned the Boys in Brown back in their own half. In the 53rd minute, Nikola Vasilj was forced to deal with a Braydon Manu shot and then had to stretch to clear the danger from the resulting corner. 

With the Schultz XI lacking control in this phase of the game, the home support turned up the noise levels and urged their team forward. It seemed to have the desired effect, as their team began to escape the Darmstadt stranglehold from the 58th minute and created a marvellous opportunity to take the lead through Amenyido. His close-range header flew straight to the alert Schuhen, however.

The visitors went one better at the other end with an hour gone when the ball was swept out wide to the unmarked Frank Ronstadt on the left, and he cut inside to curl a shot into the top corner from the edge of the area. Vasilj had no chance in the St. Pauli goal. The Lilies continued to carve out chances after going in front. Three minutes later, a long ball found striker Philip Tietz, who directed a dangerous glancing header towards goal, though Vasilj was equal to it. 

Schultz freshened things up with a triple change and it paid off almost immediately. Substitute Johannes Eggestein got to the byeline and sent in a cross to fellow new man Connor Metcalfe, who laid it off in textbook fashion for Lukas Daschner to notch the equaliser.

After Darmstadt’s initial surge at the start of the second half, the momentum was now with the Boys in Brown and Hartel curled one past the angle from 20 metres before Schuhen had to dive to his left to keep out an Eric Smith free-kick on 78 minutes.

With neither team content to settle for a point, the game was a hectic, exciting affair in the closing stages. Lukas Daschner had a chance to win it for his team five minutes from the end, but instead of finding the net his close-range header from a corner came back off the post. The Boys in Brown threw everyone forward in time added on but were unable to land a lucky punch, and it ended all square. The Schultz XI remain unbeaten at home this season, while the visitors consolidated their position at the top of the table.

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Saliakas (Zander 76’), Fazliji (Metcalfe 68’), Irvine, Smith, Hartel, Daschner (Boukhalfa 89’), Amenyido (Otto 68’), Aremu (Eggestein 68’), Paqarada, Dźwigała

Head coach: Timo Schultz

 

SV Darmstadt 98

Schuhen - Zimmermann, Pfeiffer, Mehlem (Ben Balla 79’), Manu (Leipold 90’+2), Tietz, Kempe (Riedel 90’+2), Ronstadt (Vilhelmsson 79’), Müller (Karic 66’), Bader, Holland

Head coach: Torsten Lieberknecht

 

Goals: 0-1 Ronstadt (60’), 1-1 Daschner (69’)

Yellow cards: Fazliji, Saliakas, Aremu – Mehlem

Referee: Bastian Dankert

Attendance: 29,546 (sold out)

 

Photos: FC St. Pauli

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