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BOYS IN BROWN STUNNED BY LATE WIESBADEN EQUALISER

FC St. Pauli were held to a 1-1 draw by Wehen Wiesbaden in the final game of the year at the Millerntor on Sunday. The Boys in Brown dominated the proceedings from the off, but it took until the 47th minute for Marcel Hartel to give them a long overdue lead, only for the visitors grabbed a late equaliser through John Iredale. The result means the Hürzeler XI will overwinter in second place in the table behind Holstein Kiel.

Eight days after the 1-1 draw at VfL Osnabrück, head coach Fabian Hürzeler named an unchanged side and bench for the final game of 2023 against Wehen Wiesbaden. The only difference was the kit, with the Boys in Brown wearing a special edition diversity shirt instead of their customary brown and white. In contrast, Wiesbaden boss Markus Kauczinski made four adjustments after the 3-1 home reverse against Eintracht Braunschweig, Martin Angha, Nick Bätzner, Julius Kade and Amar Ćatić starting in place of Sascha Mockenhaupt, Nico Rieble, John Iredale (all bench) and Hyun-ju Lee (ill).

The Millerntor was largely silent for the first 12 minutes as the home fans joined the nationwide protests against the decision by the German Football League earlier in the week to allow the involvement of investors. After a final burst of noise just before the kick-off, the Boys in Brown hit the ground running and fashioned the first half-chance in the opening minute, Oladapo Afolayan hitting the side-netting from an acute angle. It was pretty much one-way traffic in the opening stages, with the visitors content to sit back and wait for a chance to break, but the Hürzeler XI struggled to find a way through the packed Wiesbaden rearguard.

Then the 12 minutes were up and the ground burst into life. And almost immediately, the Boys in Brown created two decent chances. After a fine move involving several players, Elias Saad missed an opportunity to open the scoring at the back post, and 30 seconds later Marcel Hartel got underneath a shot from 14 metres and sent the ball well over the crossbar. Soon after, it looked for all the world as if Hartel would open the scoring following a superb through ball by Jackson Irvine, but with just Florian Stritzel to beat he directed his shot a whisker past the far post. It remained pretty much one-way traffic; such was the dominance of the home side that the visitors were pinned back in their own half, setting up camp around the penalty area to prevent the Boys in Brown from breaking through. Yet because a number of set pieces came to nothing and Aleksandar Vukotić was able to clear a shot from Johannes Eggestein, the half ended goalless.

Both teams emerged unchanged for the second period and the Boys in Brown continued where they had left off, the only difference being that they took a long overdue lead just two minutes in when Saliakas knocked the ball to Jackson Irvine on the right and he picked out Eggestein. The striker showed good vision to spot the unmarked Hartel, who brought the ball under control and then sidestepped a defender before slotting home from 14 metres. A great start, then, and it could have been even better had Irvine added a second minutes later. Saad did brilliantly to see off the challenge of several defenders on the left to tee up the advancing captain, but he was denied from 12 metres by Stritzel.

The Wiesbaden keeper then produced another outstanding stop to keep it at 1-0 when Hartel curled an exquisite free-kick over the wall towards the left-hand corner, but Stritzel palmed the ball round the post for a corner at full stretch. Again the Boys in Brown pushed forward. Hartel fed Saliakas on the right and he returned the compliment by whipping in a low cross into the penalty box for Hartel at the back post, but former St. Pauli man Florian Carstens slid in to deny him his second of the afternoon. The Hürzeler XI were breaching the Wiesbaden defence with regularity now, and on 64 Eggestein backheeled the ball to Irvine, only for the impressive Stritzel to thwart the Australian yet again.

Following the disappointment of the previous two league outings against HSV (2-2) and Osnabrück (1-1), the Boys in Brown were desperate to put the game to bed by adding a second goal. Wiesbaden were unable to escape the stranglehold, such was the home dominance both on and off the ball. Hartel then found himself in space outside the area and pulled the trigger, but the ball fizzed a good metre wide of the left-hand upright, as did a Saad effort from an almost identical position 60 seconds later.

Hürzeler waited until the final quarter of an hour to make his first change, introducing Maurides for Eggestein. Five minutes later, the home crowd let out a sharp intake of breath when Wiesbaden almost levelled the scores out of the blue on the break. Substitute John Iredale let fly from 15 metres and the ball smacked back of the right-hand angle. The visitors had to take more risks now if they were to take anything from the game and three minutes later another counterattack had the desired effect. Carstens won possession at the back and moved forward before dispatching a defining pass into the patch of Iredale, who dinked a shot over Vasilj from nine metres to restore parity.

The Boys in Brown went all in and almost went back in front through Connor Metcalfe, who had just come on, but he too was denied by Stritzel from just inside the box. That was that, and the Hürzeler XI were forced to settle for just a point after 90 very one-sided minutes.

FC St. Pauli

Vasilj - Wahl, Smith, Mets - Saliakas (Boukhalfa 90'), Irvine, Hartel, Treu - Afolayan (Metcalfe 83'), Eggestein (Maurides 76'), Saad

Head coach: Fabian Hürzeler

 

SV Wehen Wiesbaden

Stritzel - Angha, Carstens, Vukotić, Ćatić (Rieble 86') - Goppel (Mockenhaupt 74'), Jacobsen, Heußer (Fechner 74'), Bätzner (Iredale 59'), Kade (Froese 74') - Prtajin

Head coach: Markus Kauczinski

 

Goals: 1-0 Hartel (47'), 1-1 Iredale (84')

Yellow cards: Saliakas, Saad – Angha, Bätzner, Carstens

Referee: Timo Gerach (Landau)

Attendance: 29,332

 

Photos: Witters

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