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TIME TO END 30-YEAR DROUGHT AT OSNABRÜCK

This week has been all about processing the 2-0 home defeat against Paderborn and drawing the right conclusions. On Sunday (13:30 CET), the Boys in Brown aim to get back on track by taking all three points at VfL Osnabrück, something they last succeeded in doing almost 30 years ago.

It was an unaccustomed feeling for the Boys in Brown, after the 2-0 reverse against Paderborn, to leave the Millerntor pitch as losers. A six-game unbeaten run since the 3-2 defeat at home to VfL Bochum almost seven weeks ago had come to an end. "We knew we weren't going to win every game," said Timo Schultz afterwards before emphasising that the result would not knock his side off track.

His side had had to accept that they were simply not good enough on the night against a strong Paderborn outfit who were more clinical up front and more efficient at the back. Yet there was no rebuke after the final whistle from Schultz, who said his players had fought hard to the last but lacked "five per cent alertness and zip". The defeat was analysed in meticulous detail during the week to ensure the right conclusions are drawn in the quest to return to winning ways at Osnabrück.

Mentally and physically refreshed, the Boys in Brown go into the game determined to show they have put the defeat behind them. Were they to extend their five-game unbeaten run on the road with another three points on Sunday, it would be the first win at Osnabrück since a last-minute penalty from Klaus Ottens gave them victory in August 1991, nigh on 30 years ago.

The home side will do all they can to prevent that, of course. Unbeaten in their first seven games and still in the top half of the table at Christmas, Osnabrück were the early surprise package, but things have not gone according to plan since the turn of the year. An unforeseen 2-1 victory at Holstein Kiel to kick off 2021 in style was followed by nine defeats in a row. Osnabrück's steady slide down the table to the relegation play-off berth has left them scrapping for survival. The one bright spot was a 1-1 draw at fellow strugglers Nürnberg in new boss Markus Feldhoff's first game in charge last week.

That morale-boosting point was a "step in the right direction" according to midfielder Bashkim Ajdini and will give Osnabrück renewed hope as they bid to claim their first three-point haul since they saw off Kiel even though they have collected just seven points at home this season, the worst return in the league.

Timo Schultz will also have one eye on the bottom end of the table despite the recent upturn in form that has seen them open up a nine-point cushion to the drop zone. The St. Pauli boss was keen to point out that his side are not safe yet, but a win on Sunday would see them go some way towards banishing any fears of relegation. That will require a return to the high-intensity performances of recent weeks. And with a bit of luck, the Boys in Brown will register their first win in almost 30 years at Osnabrück.

 

Photos: Witters

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