Betting on this week’s 3. Liga matchday will have probably ended in tears for anyone who did so and picked their selections through logic. The favourites lost or didn’t win, the underdogs won, streaks were broken and, all in all, there are still nine teams in the promotion chase and the relegation spots are wide open once again.
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Some might be surprised at the choice of the match of the day this week but Saarbrücken and Kickers are both at the foot of the table and this was a six-pointer to avoid relegation. Kickers are wonderful at home, with three straight wins and three straight clean sheets but their away form is precarious at best, with two draws and four defeats in six matches.. Saarbrücken saw themselves at the bottom of the table thanks to Wacker Burghausen’s mini-revival in recent weeks, so the pressure was on Milan Šašić and his players to win this game or sink further.
It couldn’t have been a better start for Horst Steffen’s men as they were already in the lead after just three minutes. Marcos Álvarez received a ball from Fabio Leutenecker 25 yards out and rifled in a shot from the edge of the area that Timo Ochs could do nothing about, leaving the Ludwigsparkstadion in absolute shock. Kickers seemed happy with the goal and they gave the ball to Saarbrücken drawing them in and hoping for a counter to score their second. Saarbrücken welcomed this and pushed forward in numbers and after 24 minutes of pressure, they got their just reward. A cross from the left by Tim Stegerer was chested inside the box by Slovenian striker Vito Plut into the path of Marcel Ziemer, who toe-poked it into the net for the equaliser.
Saarbrücken’s momentum didn’t stop there and just four minutes later their persistence earned them a bit of luck. A free kick from Christian Eggert was lifted into the box and Julian Leist misjudged it and ended up flicking it back into his own net to put the hosts ahead. It was a stroke of bad luck for Kickers but they now found themselves behind in the scoreline and on the back foot. They would have been further behind had it not been for an excellent save by Markus Krauss from a Plut volley, as Saarbrücken were now looking for the killer blow.
It was going to take something special for Kickers to get back into the game but Elia Soriano did something that was much more than special. He picked up the ball ten yards into the opposition’s half and danced his way around four defenders until finally smashing home low from the edge of the area to make it 2-2. It was an easy contender for goal of the month and one of the goals of the season, something very special from the former Karlsruhe striker that was the perfect moral-boosting injection that his side needed after the recent blow. (See goal below. Skip to 3m 30).
The goal left the match wide open again and not as one-sided, with both sides having chances to take the lead at either side of the break, with the best one coming from Kickers in the second half, denied by a double save by Ochs almost on the goal line from Fabian Gerster and Soriano. Kickers looked like the team most likely to take the lead and Vincenzo Marchese once again came close for the visitors with his shot whistling past the post but it was Saarbrücken who took the lead again against the run of play thanks to a bit of head tennis. A throw-in by Kim Falkenberg was flicked by Ziemer and then Plut before Philipp Hoffmann’s glancing header beat Krauss in the Kickers goal and gently fell out of his reach and tucked into the inside of the post.
It could have been four for the hosts had Raffael Korte’s lob not hit the crossbar but it was Timo Ochs who kept Saarbrücken ahead thanks to excellent saves from Gerster and Marc Stein in the last ten minutes. With Kickers camped inside the Saarbrücken half, their efforts for an equaliser were almost quashed when a quick counter by the hosts ended with Ziemer hitting the post with a header from close range but they didn’t need another goal and they held on for only their second win of the season and a vital one it could prove to be.
- Rot-Weiß Erfurt’s terrible form continues, and their defeat to Jahn Regensburg, who had gone five matches without a win, further diminishes their chances for promotion this season. It was a late blow for the Erfurters as Regensburg’s late goals (87 (pen.)’ & 93′) were enough for them to come out 3-1 winners. Psychologically, Erfurt are a weak side that struggle when the going gets tough and consistency is everything in this division, especially at the top. Right now, though, it seems that Erfurt will still be playing 3. Liga football in the 2014-2015 season.
- Hansa Rostock broke their winless streak with a 2-1 victory over fellow East Germans Hallescher FC. There were 11,000 fans in the DKB Arena in Rostock as this East German derby. There were incidents before and after the match between fans and the police. A couple of hundred Halle fans arrived late to the match due to train delays and wanted to skip the security control before entering the stadium, which lead to confrontations and clashes with the police. After the match, Rostock fans looked to clash with the visiting fans but the only registered incidents were objects thrown by Halle fans at the shuttle buses carrying Rostock fans.
- Rostock could face further trouble as the Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) reported that they have a liquidity gap of around 1m€, which could end up with the club facing a fine and points deduction, although Rostock board chief Michael Dahlmann said that their 3. Liga license is not in danger.
- Preußen Münster seem good value for money in terms of entertainment since Ralf Loose took over. After recording two consecutive 4-0 victories, their match against Darmstadt was also a 4-0 but this time it was the team from Hessen who delivered the thrashing. Dominik Stroh-Engel earned his third hat-trick of the season, although once again aided by two penalties, and is now alone at the top of the goalscorers chart with 14 goals.
- Wehen Wiesbaden appointed Marc Kienle as their new manager following Peter Vollmann’s dismissal the prior week. The former Stuttgart and Duisburg player was manager of Bayern München’s U-19 squad and will now try to take Wehen back to the top three positions. “The team and the club have great potential for development and the task at Wehen is a challenge for me” Kienle stated. He will make his debut on the Wehen bench next week at home against Jahn Regensburg.
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Kenneth Kronholm earned almost single-handedly a victory for his team with a spectacular display at the osnatel-ARENA in Osnabrück. Not only did he stop everything that came his way during the match but it was his performance in the dying minutes of the match that was particularly key. He denied Pascal Testroet’s header in the 88th minute when the ball seemed destined for the back of the net and he denied Testroet once again from the penalty spot in the 93rd minute, earning his team their sixth victory in eight matches, reinforcing their position in the middle of the table.
Kronholm (1985) was born in the USA but grew up in Germany. He didn’t become a goalkeeper until he was in his teens for SG Oftersheim. He made the move to SV Waldhof Mannheim and then was spotted by the scouts of VfL Wolfsburg, although he only managed appearances for the U19 side. He moved to Carl-Zeiss Jena in2 2005 and won the Oberliga Nordost, although without a single appearance. He made his first-team debut for Wormatia Worms in the 2005-2006 season but moved to Fortuna Düsseldorf in the summer of 2006, where he became starting goalkeeper in the Rückrunde playing in the Regionalliga Nord. The following season he moved again, this time to FSV Frankfurt in the Regionalliga Südwest but once again failed to find regular playing time. Hansa Rostock II and Eintracht Trier in the following two seasons saw Kronholm establish himself as a #1 goalkeeper in the Regionalliga for both sides but neither in his return to Mannheim in 2010 nor after signing for Jahn Regensburg in 2011 saw him make another first-team appearance. In 2012/2013 he signed for Elversberg in the Regionalliga Südwest and was their first-team goalkeeper in their promotion campaign to the 3. Liga. This season, Kronholm has been a revelation in the league, earning a spot in September’s team of the month.
HOT AND COLD
1. FC SAARBRÜCKEN
TABELLE 14. SPIELTAG