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Stojanović targeting maximum return

Dejan Stojanović has now completed a full half-season with the club after signing on loan from Middlesbrough in early January, playing his part in the rapid upturn in fortunes since the reverse fixture against Holstein Kiel with a string of good performances. The aspiring keeper is still not satisfied, however, and aims to go flat to ensure he and his teammates end the season as well as possible.

"I'm fine and I feel good," said Dejan Stojanović before his weekend off. "To be honest, I've never felt better." The reasons are obvious. Since arriving at the Millerntor, he has played every minute and been the mainstay of a team that has excelled of late. "You get more out of yourself when you're fine and feeling good, it gives you that little bit extra," added the Austrian, who was snapped up on loan from Middlesbrough one day before the Covid-rearranged fixture at Würzburg and made his debut between the posts against Holstein Kiel a few days later. Twelve of those 17 games since that meeting with the promotion challengers have ended in victory. "I couldn't have imagined it going any better than the way it has," he admitted, looking back at the past four months.

Dejan Stojanović celebrates during the 2-0 defeat of Eintracht Braunschweig in early April, one of 12 victories with him in goal.

Dejan Stojanović celebrates during the 2-0 defeat of Eintracht Braunschweig in early April, one of 12 victories with him in goal.

In that period, Stojanović has been beaten just 20 times and kept five clean sheets. It would have been six if he hadn't had to pick the ball out of the net in time added on against Fürth. As competitive as he is, he hoofed the ball away in anger after the goal. "It ruined my mood a bit at first because as a keeper you always want to keep a clean sheet. That's what drives me. Unfortunately, it didn't happen against Fürth, but at least we beat the team in second place," said Stojanović, who firmly believes more clean sheets would have been possible: "There were some games where we were leading 2-0 and then let one in. We dropped off a bit and didn't keep going at the same level of intensity. But conceding goals is part and parcel of the game."

The record since the reverse fixture against Kiel reads 12 wins, two draws and three defeats, something that was not on the cards after a poor first half of the season. "Nothing's impossible, as we've seen," said Stojanović, who not only hoped but was convinced the Boys in Brown would turn things around, albeit perhaps not quite as well as they have done. "It's all the nicer to see things going as well as they're meant to again and we are where we are," he added. The odd change here and there, a bit of luck and the confidence boost after the first few wins ushered in a meteoric rise up the table that would see the Schultz XI safe from relegation by April.

Dejan Stojanović prevents Kiel's Janni Serra from giving his side a 33rd minute lead in the reverse fixture.

Dejan Stojanović prevents Kiel's Janni Serra from giving his side a 33rd minute lead in the reverse fixture.

Three games remain this season, the first of them at Holstein Kiel on Friday evening. The Boys in Brown secured a point when Stojanović made his second division bow, so how does he see this one going? "It's going to be another tough game like it was against Fürth because Kiel deserve to be up near the top. They've proved they're a great side with a good chance of promotion, but we'll try to impose our game on them and take all three points," he said.

As always, Stojanović will enjoy the best possible preparation ahead of the game, with good reason. "In Matze Hain, I have a super coach who provides me with everything I need to know about our next opponents. I always get a top analysis." With a match and training-free weekend behind him, he'll enter the run-in "at full power" hoping to carry on the form of recent weeks and months. "The objective now we're definitely safe is to finish the season as best we can. We go into every game looking to win it. We'll simply try to achieve the maximum and see where we end up."

 

Photos: Witters

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