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IMPROVISATION CALLED FOR AGAINST KIEL

The solitary point gained in the 1-1 draw at Würzburg was not the haul the Boys in Brown had hoped for before the game. Given the way the game unfolded, however, with Timo Schultz's charges conceding early, hitting the frame of the goal twice and playing more than half the game reduced to ten, that point did not seem so bad in the end, and may even prove invaluable. Be that as it may, a second win of the season is urgently needed against Holstein Kiel on Saturday, even though the visitors are clear favourites on paper.

At this time of year, the Boys in Brown would normally be at training camp somewhere on the Spanish Mediterranean coast. With the first half of the season behind them, the players would be spending a few days together working hard in training and helping the new acquisitions to settle in. Over the last ten months, however, much of what is considered normal has become a distant memory. For the players, the upshot is a congested fixture list with little time to rest.

January may well determine the course of the rest of the season. Just two games have been played so far, but another 15 points are up for grabs in the next 23 days, and the Boys in Brown are targeting as many as possible. Experience tells us that the outcome of a game is often determined by the form on the day rather than the respective positions in the league table. The current situation is merely a snapshot, leaving the Boys in Brown determined to turn their negative run into a positive.

It may also be an advantage that Kiel are a known quantity. Timo Schultz’s team lost 2-1 to the Storks in a pre-season warm-up game before gaining their revenge with a 1-0 friendly win during the October international break. Those games may have been evenly balanced affairs, but the two teams have had vastly differing fortunes in the league. The Boys in Brown need the points to escape the drop zone, while a win for Ole Werner's side would do their chances of promotion no harm whatsoever.

The 32-year-old coach has a squad at his disposal that is blessed with quality and depth. A run of five wins in a row towards the end of last year was tarnished slightly by a 2-1 home defeat against Osnabrück. But Kiel remain unbeaten away from home and boast the best defence in the league, and will make the short journey down the A7 looking to make amends.

"We'll have to throw everything at it if we want to leave the pitch victorious," said Timo Schultz at the pre-match news conference. The game comes around too soon for new signing Eric Smith, while a decision on the goalkeeper position will be made on Friday. Suspensions for Marvin Knoll and Sebastian Ohlsson leave the coaching team needing to improvise when choosing the starting lineup, and the loss of all four right-backs only compounds their selection woes. Ultimately, however, the result is all that counts against Kiel, regardless of the circumstances. And a second win of the season would do nicely.

 

Photos: Witters

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