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SCHULTZ XI GO TO HANNOVER BUOYED BY KIEL PERFORMANCE

Timo Schultz’s team will take courage from the performance in the 1-1 draw with Holstein Kiel. The rejuvenated style of football that swept across the Millerntor turf had one of the promotion contenders on the verge of defeat. While the longed-for second win of the season had to be put off to another day, the draw serves as a foundation on which to build. Yet the craving for a victory is matched only by the size of the task at Hannover 96 on Saturday (13:00 CET).

The results may not have gone St Pauli’s way at the weekend, but there were still plenty of positives. Guido Burgstaller demonstrated quality and character in abundance, and new arrivals Omar Marmoush and Dejan Stojanović impressed on their first starts for the club. Timo Schultz was therefore right to speak of a "performance that augurs well for the future".

His team will make the short journey south correspondingly buoyed. More than ten years have elapsed since Marius Ebbers converted a Bastian Oczipka cross to seal the last brown-and-white success in the Lower Saxony capital. A victory this time around would likely be even more important than it was in the Bundesliga back in October 2010. The players showed they can give anyone in this league a game against Kiel, the task now is to claim their reward in the form of all three points.

Despite being blessed with one of the strongest squads at this level, Hannover have been anything but consistent this season, though they do appear to have steadied the ship now, of all times, with victories over Sandhausen (4-0) and Darmstadt (2-1) propelling Kenan Kocak's side to within striking distance of the top three. In Marvin Ducksch, 26, the Reds have one the league's leading marksmen in their ranks. With eight goals and five assists to his name, the former St. Pauli man has been involved in two-thirds of their goals this term and is sure to be a major factor in Hannover's promotion bid.

The key to success at Hannover, once again, will be keeping things tight at the back. "We're very much on the right track in that area and generally well placed in central defence," said an optimistic Timo Schultz at the pre-match news conference. With seven shares of the spoils so far, his side are the league's draw kings this season, a contributing factor to their being anchored in the drop zone. It is an epithet the Boys in Brown would love to shed, as the time for an impressive display on the pitch to find its reflection in the final score is long overdue.

 

Photos: Witters

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