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Heidenheim no place to take a breather

FC St. Pauli return to league action after the international break with a trip to FC Heidenheim on Saturday (13:30 CET). The game pitches together sixth against first, making it the pick of the weekend's fixtures alongside the matchup between third-placed SC Paderborn and second-placed Jahn Regensburg. Timo Schultz's side travel south looking for a repeat of their last visit in late January that saw them return to Hamburg with three points in the bag.

In the early part of 2021, the Schultz XI successively ended a number of negative runs away from home. In mid-January, for example, they won 3-2 at Hannover to halt a 13-game winless streak and register their first win on the road in almost two years. Another barren spell was ended with victory at Aue in early April. And not to be forgotten, of course, the Boys in Brown celebrated their first ever win at FC Heidenheim in late January after previously racking up six consecutive defeats at the Voith-Arena.

That game proved a real rollercoaster ride, a seven-goal thriller in which Heidenheim pegged the Boys in Brown back three times before the seventh and final goal settled it in our favour. "We were fortunate to win in the end but maybe we deserved it, too. If you lead four times, you've earned it when all's said and done," said Schultz after the match, which he almost missed after experiencing severe pain in the kidney area and a resulting visit to the hospital that morning.

Daniel-Kofi Kyereh, scorer of his side's second goal that day, said it had been one of the most intensive games he'd ever been involved in, and Saturday's contest is sure to be another high-octane affair. "We know Heidenheim, and we know it's an extremely tough place to go," added Luca Zander in the run-up. The Boys in Brown go into the match on the back of three consecutive wins but will have to push themselves to the limit once more in their quest to return to Hamburg with something to show for their efforts.

Not since August 2018 has a St. Pauli side run out as undisputed league leaders, and they cannot afford to let up if it is to stay that way after the weekend round of matches. "If you relax for just a second, it's very difficult to get anything there," continued Zander. Heidenheim is no place to take a breather, that's for sure. Not only do they boast one of the best home records at this level in recent years, they are also the fittest and quickest team in the league.

Nevertheless, the table-topping Boys in Brown will travel to Heidenheim full of confidence after the 3-0 drubbing of Dynamo Dresden last time out. The home side, for their part, slumped to a 3-0 defeat at Werder Bremen just days after veteran coach Frank Schmidt had put pen to paper on a new contract keeping him at the club until 2027. Heidenheim, who are unbeaten at the Voith-Arena this season with two wins and three draws from their first five home games, will want to return to winning ways as quickly as possible, of course. But the Schultz XI are a different proposition these days and will go flat out to replicate their success of late January.

 

Photos: Witters

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