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FCN next promotion rivals to visit Millerntor for summit meeting

After last week's 2-1 home defeat at the hands of Darmstadt, the Boys in Brown play host to another side chasing promotion on Friday evening (18.30 CET) in FC Nürnberg, who also suffered a setback last time out, losing 4-2 at home to SV Sandhausen. Both teams therefore go into the game looking for a win to stay in contention in the promotion race.

Both sides were guilty of napping in their respective weekend defeats. The Boys in Brown took a while to get going in the 2-1 reverse against Darmstadt and though they hit the ground running after the interval and halved the deficit near the end they were unable to find an equaliser. Nurnberg, for their part, surrendered a 2-1 lead in the 4-2 defeat against a resurgent Sandhausen. And after missing a penalty with the score at 2-2, they eventually conceded twice late on to seal their fate. Worryingly for Friday's visitors, all four Sandhausen goals resulted from a corner.

Last weekend's results mean both sides have recorded just one win in their last five outings. With three vital points at stake, the task was therefore to analyse and then draw a line under the latest setbacks as quickly as possible. The Boys in Brown have lost just twice at home this season and with the fans behind them will be going all out to secure the win that would lift them above third-placed Darmstadt, who entertain Erzgebirge Aue on Saturday (13.30 CET), at least overnight.

With Jackson Irvine and Marcel Hartel ruled out by one-match bans, head coach Timo Schultz will have to rejig his midfield for the first of the three "crackers" making up the end-of-season run-in. He has enough alternatives in his squad, however, so it will be interesting to see who gets the nod. In contrast, Nürnberg boss Robert Klauss has almost a full complement of players from which to choose, though former St. Pauli favourite Mats Møller Dæhli is an injury doubt after being restricted to training on his own during the week. It therefore remains to be seen whether the Norwegian midfielder, who made a total of 42 appearances for the Boys in Brown in a three-year spell between 2017 and 2020, will make his first appearance at the Millerntor as an opposition player.

Whoever Timo Schultz fields on Friday night, it is clear they will have to go flat out for 90 minutes. There can be no repeat of last week's snoozy start against Darmstadt when his side did not generate a high tempo until around the half-hour mark. "You always want to get the place rocking straightaway. If we can activate this madhouse from the off, it's obviously an advantage for us," said Schultz in the run-up. The recent record against Nürnberg offers cause for optimism in this quest, with the Boys in Brown unbeaten in the last nine meetings (five wins and four draws). Stretching that run to ten is the target, then, hopefully with by notching another home win.

 

Photos: Witters

 

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