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Schultz calls for extra mile to secure next three points

FC St. Pauli entertain SV Darmstadt 98 on Saturday (13.00 CET) aiming to continue their run of form. Timo Schultz's side are determined not to let up after the recent successes and know they will need another top performance against tough footballing opponents. A fourth win in a row would see the Boys in Brown widen the gap to the bottom sides and move into mid-table.

Last week the Boys in Brown survived a late rally from the home side to see out the game at Nürnberg and make it five wins from their last six games. "We would have liked to have settled it earlier," said director of sport Andreas Bornemann afterwards, "but the lads showed great mentality, which is a hallmark of this team." There is nothing much we can add to that. The Boys in Brown have emerged from a long barren spell to play some thrilling football of late, and it is no coincidence that they have now taken 15 of a possible 18 points, more than any other team in the same period.

The aim is to extend that run at home to Darmstadt, of course, and head coach Timo Schultz has his sights firmly set on a fourth win on the bounce against a team he rates as one of the best in the league. The last time a St. Pauli side won four in a row was in April 2017, a run that secured their second-division status with two games to spare after a disastrous first half of the season. That goal has yet to be achieved this term, but it remains the sole objective, as Schultz was keen to point out: "We certainly won't be setting any new targets," the 43-year-old said.

Victory over the Lilies could open up a ten-point buffer to the automatic relegation places. And while the Boys in Brown are enjoying the recent upturn in results, they are not about to rest on their laurels. "We're all on high alert, especially on the coaching team. But you can tell there's no complacency among the lads and no slacking. They are working as hard and conscientiously as before and continue to go flat out in training. We're making sure no one drops off. On the contrary, we want to them to go the extra mile," emphasised Schultz in the run-up.

No one will be underestimating Darmstadt, then, especially as the 2-2 draw in the reverse fixture provided ample evidence of the quality head coach Markus Anfang has at his disposal. It took two late goals that day for the Boys in Brown to claim a fortunate, yet not undeserved point. "We showed we can perform well against such teams," said Anfang looking back at that encounter. "I hope we can do the same in the return - albeit with a better outcome," he added. And like Schultz, the Darmstadt boss expects it to be a game between "two evenly matched sides" going all out to take three points to bolster their cushion above the drop zone.

Schultz, for his part, likened the task facing his team at this stage of the season to that of a squirrel busy collecting food. Against Darmstadt, his team have a golden opportunity to add three more points to their store. Another good performance will see them do just that.


Photos: Witters