Photo by Seppalot13 (Wikimedia Commons)
Sometimes football is about silky flicks and tricks, resulting in a wonder strike from 30 yards. More often football is about losing at home on a boggy pitch in the rain in front of 2000 fans and that is what Babelsberg came to learn on Friday evening against SpVgg Unterhaching.
The game itself was extremely entertaining; the home side enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges and almost broke the deadlock through Benjamin Kauffmann, who saw his drilled shot pushed round the post by Bavarian keeper Stefan Riederer. From the resulting corner, the giant Dominik Stroh-Engel did not get lucky enough to score, Riederer again denying the white-shirted hosts a deserved lead.
The goal did eventually come and extremely well-worked it was too: after 25 minutes Kauffmann again was in the mix, spinning off his man to fire a deflected effort into the bottom right corner of the goal.
There were scenes of (relative) jubilation in the stands as the boys from the East celebrated not only going a goal up but the ceasing of the persistent drizzle that was beginning to make things awkward for both sides.
Unterhaching, who started the season in a rich vein of attacking form, seemed to adapt better to the inclement conditions and in the period between the opening goal and the interval they began to dominate as Babelsberg’s early exuberance began to dry up.
After their opening chance from Marcel Avdic, the handful of fans on the terrace behind the goal were sent into raptures by an extremely soft effort on the half hour from Mijo Tunjic.
Capitalising on a fatal mix of slack marking and uncertainty from the keeper, the tall front man nodded in from six yards to undo all of the previous hard work in a single lapse of concentration.
The disheartened home fans began to see why Unterhaching were the leading scorers of the 3. Liga, as ex-Hertha man Sascha Bigalke (with his obnoxious peroxide hair) found himself at the centre of every good move the visitors made. However, the increasingly nervous Brandenburgers were at more immediate danger from their own incompetence.
It almost ended in tears shortly before half time as a comedy of errors left Florian Grossert relieved not to see his name in the wrong column of the scoresheet; the ball trickling over the wet turf but thankfully out for a corner.
The smell of half time Bratwurst was still floating gently in the breeze and the light fading steadily (despite the curious absence of floodlights) as Unterhaching resumed the bombardment, wasting no time in picking up where they left off in the first half. Forward Florian Niederlechner missed a brace of chances as the visitors pressed on in search of a winner.
Another set piece, another error from Unger between the sticks for Babelsberg and alas, another goal. The shaky looking custodian punched a corner from the left straight to the feet of Roland Sternisko who connected brilliantly to fire in from 20 yards. It turned out to be the winner.
The late rally from Babelsberg wasn’t forthcoming and the final whistle eventually spared them from further punishment at the hands of their far superior opposition.
Not a great day at the office for Nulldrei, but signs that they can, in patches at least, hold their own against the bigger teams in the division.
They won’t face many better teams than Unterhaching at the Karl Liebknecht Stadion (KaLi) this season and despite the dampening of their hopes in the late summer drizzle, they should surely have enough quality to survive the forthcoming year.