ALL SQUARE AT OSNABRÜCK
Saturday, 09. December 2023, 23:09 Uhr
FC St. Pauli were held to a 1-1 draw in their final away game of the year at VfL Osnabrück on Saturday evening. Jackson Irvine headed his side into an early lead in front of 15,741 spectators, only for Haralambos Makridis to level for the home side in the closing stages.
Head coach Fabian Hürzeler made four changes to the side that won at Homburg in the cup in midweek. Nikola Vasilj returned between the posts, while Manolis Saliakas, Dapo Afolayan and Elias Saad came in for Lars Ritzka, Etienne Amenyido and Connor Metcalfe. On his first home appearance on the Osnabrück touchline, new boss Uwe Koschinat dropped keeper Lennart Grill after the 4-0 defeat at Schalke and handed the 31-year-old Philipp Kühn his first league outing of the season. Henry Rorig and Noel Niemann were also preferred to Maximilian Thalhammer and ex-St. Pauli striker John Verhoek.
The game kicked off in a cracking atmosphere and with the pouring rain making for a heavy pitch. From the off the white-shirted Boys in Brown looked to leave their mark in attack with some adept positional play and intelligent passing and got an early reward with just six minutes gone. Jackson Irvine's initial effort was deflected for a corner and when the ball came in the skipper powered an unstoppable header past Kühn to open the scoring.
In the ensuing period the Hürzeler XI continued to dominate the possession and posed much the greater threat. The home side, for their part, looked to break as quickly as possible on winning the ball, yet failed to trouble the well-marshalled St. Pauli defence. Accordingly, it was a corner that brought Osnabrück their first sniff of goal on 20 minutes, but the Boys in Brown joined forces to clear their lines.
Just before the half-hour Johannes Eggestein registered two attempts on goal in quick succession. The first, a header, flew a whisker past the upright and then Kühn stuck out a foot to defuse the danger. Irvine had another go in the 37th minute but got underneath it and the ball sailed high and wide. Osnabrück stepped up their efforts towards the end of the half but were unable to fashion any chances of note against a strong-tackling St. Pauli rearguard.
Both teams emerged unchanged for the second period. As in the first half, it was the Boys in Brown who threatened first when Eggestein held the ball up under challenge from Niklas Wiemann and knocked a pass with the outside of his foot to Elias Saad, who dribbled his way to the edge of the box before unleashing a shot that shaved the side netting on its way past. The home side then had to replace Henry Rorig after a collision with Elias Saad. On came ex-St. Pauli man Christian Conteh, and the change had a positive effect, as the home side made a game of it after that. Firing up the home crowd with every tackle won, they began to pump dangerous balls into the St. Pauli box.
Koschinat's charges were much the busier side from the hour mark, and though the Hürzeler XI were struggling to escape the Osnabrück stranglehold, they allowed no major opportunities. Amid the pressure, the Boys in Brown fashioned their best chance of the half for Dapo Afolayan, who was played in on the edge of the box and produced a fine reflex save from Kühn. That was that for Dapo, who made way for Connor Metcalfe, with ex-Osnabrück man Etienne Amenyido also coming on for Johannes Eggestein.
While the changes brought some relief from the pressure, Osnabrück continued to press, leaving the game on a knife-edge. With a quarter of an hour left, though, Marcel Hartel almost doubled the advantage with a shot on the turn, but Kühn was down quickly to make the save. Almost immediately, Nikola Vasilj reacted brilliantly to turn a close-range effort from Conteh over the bar and prevent what looked like a certain equaliser. That came in the 82nd minute, however, when a cutback from the byeline found its way to substitute Haralambos Makridis at the back post and he drilled a low shot past Vasilj to level the scores.
Buoyed by the equaliser, the home side went for broke in the last few minutes, forcing the Boys in Brown to defend with all the means at their disposal. In time added on, Niklas Wiemann was shown a second yellow card for a foul on Maurides and Osnabrück were down to ten. Hartel took the resulting free-kick, but it was Kühn's night, his final save of the evening ensuring it ended one apiece.
Kühn - Ajdini, Gyamfi (C), Wiemann, Kleinhansl - Cuisance (Diakhite 90'+3), Gnaase, Tesche (Wulff 67') - Rorig (Conteh 51'), Engelhardt, Niemann (Makridis 67')
Head coach: Uwe Koschinat
FC St. Pauli
Vasilj - Wahl, Smith, Mets - Saliakas (Ritzka 81'), Irvine (C), Hartel, Treu - Afolayan (Metcalfe 67'), Eggestein (Amenyido 67'), Saad (Maurides 75')
Head coach: Fabian Hürzeler
Goals: 0-1 Irvine (6'), 1-1 Makridis (82')
Yellow cards: Kleinhansl, Wiemann, Wulff
Red card (second yellow): Wiemann
Referee: Patrick Schwengers (Travemünde)
Photos: FC St. Pauli