If travelling to in-form 1860 Munich wasn’t already a huge game for St Pauli in their quest for promotion, the results over the weekend of Matchday 24 made it even bigger. Greuther Furth remained top of the table after a 2-0 victory at struggling Duisburg on Friday evening, and on Saturday afternoon there were wins for Paderborn and Fortuna Dusseldorf. Paderborn travelled to the face the much-improved Aachen and comfortably won 3-0, with Aachen having two players dismissed. Dusseldorf visited struggling Karlsruhe, and thumped the home side 5-0. And on Sunday evening, the final member of the promotion pack (excluding Monday night’s competitors) Eintracht Frankfurt struggled to a victory at home against Energie Cottbus, 1-0 the final score.
So, with all those around them picking up 3 points this weekend – it meant that the St Pauli and 1860 Munich both needed the points on Monday night to stay in touch with the leaders. St Pauli were missing goalkeeper Tschauner – still out after a shoulder injury suffered before the winter break, Fabian Boll was suspended, Fin Bartels missed out due to a virus and Marius Ebbers wasn’t deemed fit enough to be named in the squad. Four essential players missing for the one of the toughest away trips of the season!
But St Pauli started well, they seemed assured defensively and in midfield they were comfortable on the ball. The only problem was again the lack of options in the final third – Ebbers is vital to the team with his link-up play and aerial presence and there is no-one who can really fill this void in the side. The side seemed uncomfortable in the final third, relying too heavily on finding a killer pass or attempting shots from well outside the box, afraid to put in crosses due to the absence of not only Ebbers, not Boll – who has notched some crucial goals this season too.
1860 Munich were unlucky not to go ahead though after 15 minutes, a half volley from Rukavina all of 25 yards out smashed the post and bounced to the feet of the striker who couldn’t poke the ball home, and moments later Aigner at the back post for 1860 couldn’t head in at the back post. But St Pauli’s resilience paid off on 33 minutes when Sliskovic run into the box and was brought down by a clumsy challenge which resulted in a penalty and a yellow card. Up stepped Bruns against tracksuit-bottom wearing Gabor Kiraly, who guessed the right way but couldn’t keep out the penalty. 1-0 to Sankt Pauli.
The game was without much action, with 1860 Munich pressing but failing to really trouble the St Pauli goal, and St Pauli trying to counter attack but failing to find the final ball. As the game seemed to be fading out though, a ball inside the area was misjudged by Funk – who decided against putting the ball into the stands, and instead opted to wait seemingly for Pliquett to come and collect. Funk eventually tried to clear, but his clearance was blocked and fell to the feet of 1860 striker Volland who finished well from close range to grab a point for the home side.
It’s always disappointing to drop points in such a manner, but it was a valuable point in hindsight – missing several key players, and against a side who were the form team in the league, it was always going to be a difficult trip. A point leaves St Pauli three points off top spot, and all 6 teams still in the chase for promotion. Here’s the league table:
1) Greuther Furth – 50 points
2) Eintracht Frankfurt – 49 points
3) Paderborn – 49 points
4) Fortuna Dusseldorf – 48 points
5) St Pauli – 47 points
6) 1860 Munich 42 points (+ game in hand).
Next weekend, it seems as if all of the top sides could all win again, with all of the top 6 playing sides in the bottom half of the table. St Pauli will wait until Monday evening against when Karlsruhe visit the Millerntor.