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The final home game of the season ended in a 2-1 defeat against Hannover 96. Marvin Ducksch gave the visitors a 13th minute lead before Niklas Hult added a dinked second just short of the hour. Guido Burgstaller halved the deficit 20 minutes from time but that was the end of the scoring. The Boys in Brown were reduced to ten men late on when James Lawrence picked up a second yellow card. On a positive note, Ryo Miyaichi and Christopher Buchtmann both celebrated returns to action following long injury layoffs.

With the promotion and relegation headlines due to be written elsewhere, neither side had much to play for going into the game. Yet the home finale at the Millerntor was still ripe with back stories. The Boys in Brown ran out in their new away shirts, with principal sponsors congstar allowing for their logo to be replaced by the 'No football for fascists' slogan adopted by Fanladen St. Pauli. It was also the first game after the club's 111th anniversary, the celebrations for which had taken the form of an online gala the previous evening due to the coronavirus pandemic. And with the campaign drawing to close, there was the customary element of sadness over the inevitable departure of some players.

Against this background, and with the team aiming to cut a dash in more ways than one, head coach Timo Schultz made three changes to the side that lost 4-0 at Kiel last time out. Dennis Smarsch was handed his first-team debut between the posts, Christian Viet replaced Finn Ole Becker in the midfield diamond and Max Dittgen began up top instead of Omar Marmoush. In addition, Christopher Buchtmann and Ryo Miyaichi returned to the squad for the first time this season after long injury layoffs. Hannover coach Kenan Kocak adjusted his starting lineup in four positions, goalkeeper Martin Hansen, Simon Falette, Philipp Ochs and Jaka Bijol coming in for Michael Esser, Baris Basdas, Timo Hübers and Dominik Kaiser.

The reverse fixture at Hannover proved a highly entertaining affair, with a last-minute strike from Igor Matanović earning the spoils for the Boys in Brown. And the return got off to a lively start, too, when Dittgen curled a shot just wide of the upright with a little over 60 seconds gone. St. Pauli controlled the proceedings in the opening stages, but the visitors were presented with an excellent opportunity to score on eight minutes when Philipp Ziereis slipped on the wet turf attempting to intercept a long ball upfield. Marvin Ducksch delivered a pass into the middle to Hendrik Weydandt, who struck the post with his initial effort and then put the rebound wide with the goal at his mercy. Five minutes later, the visitors were not so profligate. This time it was Weydandt who sent Ducksch on his way. Smarsch was alert to the danger and came rushing out of his goal, only to see his clearance bounce back off the former St. Pauli striker, who was able to head the ball into the unguarded net.

Hannover were in the ascendency now and had further chances in quick succession through Ducksch and Genki Haraguchi, with the Schultz XI struggling to regain their early assurance on the ball. Rodrigo Zalazar fired past the angle in the 24th minute, as did Weydandt at the other end with a shot on the turn, before Dittgen was unable to direct his header past Hansen. With the interval approaching, the home side stepped up their attacking efforts and Guido Burgstaller came within a whisker of levelling the scores with an angled shot. It flew the wrong side of the post, though, and the Boys in Brown found themselves a goal down at the half.

Max Dittgen comes off second best against Hansen in his attempt to find an equaliser.

Max Dittgen comes off second best against Hansen in his attempt to find an equaliser.

The second half began rather scrappily with several fouls and breaks in the play. Hannover again registered an early chance through Weydandt, but that proved relatively harmless, something that could not be said of Kyereh's spectacular overhead kick from the edge of the area that flew just wide of the upright. Moments later, however, the visitors went one better at the other end when Niklas Hult stood the ball up to the far post, presumably in search of Weydandt, and it ended up looping over Smarsch and in at the far post.

Timo Schultz responded with the introduction of Marmoush for Dittgen and long-term absentee Buchtmann for Viet just after the hour. Yet it was the visitors who continued to carry the greater threat, and substitute Linton Maina went close from range with a shot that just cleared the crossbar. Kyereh remained the player most likely to score for the Schultz XI, and when the midfielder finally beat Hansen from distance, the ball smacked back off the left-hand upright. The Boys in Brown sensed their chance, however, and were rewarded when Kyereh served up the loose ball for Burgstaller to cut the deficit to one.

Miyaichi became the second long-term casualty to celebrate a return to action when he replaced Zander in the 73rd minute. But his side were reduced to ten soon after when Lawrence caught Ducksch on the ankle in attempting to clear and was shown a second yellow card. Unfortunately, Ducksch was unable to continue as a result of the challenge. A series of interruptions did nothing for the flow of the match, and with Hannover focusing on seeing the game out, a free-kick from Florent Muslija was the only chance of note in the rest of regulation time. Substitute Maik Frantz did have an opportunity to extend his side's lead in time added on, but his effort was deflected wide and it ended 2-1.

FC St. Pauli

Smarsch - Zander (Miyaichi 73'), Ziereis, Lawrence, Paqarada - Benatelli (Buballa 84'), Viet (Buchtmann 61'), Zalazar (Daschner 73'), Kyereh - Dittgen (Marmoush 61'), Burgstaller

Head coach: Timo Schultz


Hannover 96

Hansen - Muroya, Elez, Falette, Hult - Bijol - Ochs (Maina 53'), Haraguchi, Muslija - Ducksch (Sulejmani 83'), Weydandt (Frantz 90'+2)

Head coach: Kenan Kocak


Goals: 0-1 Ducksch (13'), 0-2 Hult (59'), 1-2 Burgstaller (70')

Yellow cards: Zander, Lawrence, Benatelli – Bijol

Red card (second yellow): Lawrence (80')

Referee: Lasse Koslowski (Berlin)


Photos: Witters, FC St. Pauli



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