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Defend Fortress Millerntor and extend home run against Rostock

Timo Schultz's charges go into Sunday's home game against Hansa Rostock (13:30 CET) full of confidence after the 4-2 win at Heidenheim last time out, their fourth in succession. Yet the Boys in Brown will do well not to underestimate the visitors, back in the second tier after gaining promotion last season, and will need to be at their best if they are to make it six wins out of six at the Millerntor.

In what is their third home game in a row against one of the three promoted teams, FC St. Pauli now welcome Hansa Rostock looking to build on the victories over Ingolstadt (4‑1) and Dynamo Dresden (3-0). That's right, Rostock. After a nine-year absence, Hansa are back in Bundesliga 2. A 1-1 draw at home to VfB Lübeck on the final day some five months ago was enough to secure promotion for Jens Härtel's team. And it was a former St. Pauli player, Bentley Baxter Bahn, who notched the all-important equaliser. Elsewhere, Ingolstadt beat 1860 Munich 3-1 to draw level on points, but it was not enough to take them past Hansa, who were three goals better off in terms of goal difference.

Rostock found life difficult in the third division after going down in 2012, initially finishing in the bottom half of the table six years in a row. Three sixth places followed before promotion was finally achieved this summer. "They've made a reasonable start to the season," said Timo Schultz at the pre-match news briefing. Indeed, Hansa have picked up eleven points so far, a tally that could easily have been higher had they not been held to a 1-1 home draw by Sandhausen last time out, for example. Two of their three wins this season have come away from home, Hannover (3-0) and Kiel (2-0) the victims. One player the Boys in Brown will need to keep a close eye on is former favourite John Verhoek, who is in a rich vein of form at the moment. The striker bagged a brace at Kiel and has already scored six of Rostock's eleven goals this term, including a strike against Sandhausen last week.

The Boys in Brown have already racked up 23 goals in comparison, 15 of them in their five home games, all of which were won in convincing fashion. If things go to plan, that run will be extended against Rostock, who will be travelling without fans due to the 2G rule (vaccinated and recovered people only) that applies at the Millerntor. Not since the 1994/95 season has a St. Pauli side won six home games on the bounce. "The lads know what they have to bring to the pitch to win the game," said Schultz in the run-up. He declined to go any further, but one thing is certain – if his side push themselves to the limit once again, reproduce the refreshing attacking football they have shown of late and stand firm at the back, they have every chance of defending Fortress Millerntor against Rostock and extending their winning streak at home to six.


Photos: Witters