May 27, 2017

Die Köpenick Chronik – Union building a fortress at the Alte Försterei

Any question marks over Union Berlin’s capacity to score goals without star striker Sebastian
Polter were abolished on Sunday afternoon, as Die Eiserne dispatched 1.FC Heidenheim in a come-from-behind 3-1 victory.

Manager Norbert Düwel was faced with a conundrum in replacing eight-goal Polter, who picked up
his fifth yellow card of the season in last week’s loss to Nürnberg, and with it a one-match
suspension.

Sören Brandy was the man to come in, overcoming fitness issues to take up the sole striker’s spot
in a 4-1-4-1 formation, with Björn Jopek and Christopher Quiring replacing Bajram Nebihi and
Martin Kobylanski.

But for Union, who were chasing their fourth consecutive home win, the match started in terrible
fashion.

In just the fifth minute, Heidenheim, in their first foray forward, took advantage of some suspect
defending, Florian Niederlechner floating across the box and laying off for Marc Schnatterer to
finish past a stranded Daniel Haas.

The lead didn’t last long, however, after Fabian Schönheim was released down the left wing. The
defender cut back onto his weaker right foot, delivering a perfect ball onto captain Damir Kreilach’s
foot to volley home the equaliser.

With 10 minutes gone, Heidenheim went close to retaking the lead, with Union’s dodgy organisation at
set pieces almost hurting them again. A short free kick near the halfway line gave Schnatterer time
to move forward in space before hitting a stinging effort from about 30 yards. Haas was equal to
the effort, though, managing to tip the ball over the bar.

Schönheim and Steven Skrzybski we’re creating some good combinations down the left hand side,
causing Heidenheim’s Dennis Malura and Robert Leipertz all sorts of problems. Constantly
swapping positions – Skrzybski spending as much time in defence as attack – meant Leipertz was
regularly pulled out of position.

The graft of Schönheim was again the source of Union’s second goal, the defender forcing a
turnover and galloping down the left flank to receive possession. With Heidenheim appearing to
have closed down the left back’s options, Schönheim managed to drive in another pin-point
delivery for Brandy. With the ball whizzing in, Brandy opened his body and superbly directed a
side-footed effort into the far corner of the goal past Rouen Sattelmaier.

Heidenheim were still causing Union problems as the sides went into the break, but the
atmosphere around the stadium sensed another victory, and they weren’t going to let their team let
it slip.

A fast start to the second period was essential, and Düwel’s men duly delivered the goods. Yet
again, it was Schönheim’s drive and determination that crafted the goal. The marauding defender played a deft one-two with Brandy, hustling his way into the box and then squaring for Quiring to finish off an easy tap-in. With 56 minutes gone, Union were two goals ahead and cruising.

Aside from a Mathias Wittek header that hit the bar from a free kick – with Union again showing
naivety at the set piece – Heidenheim struggled to get through a resolute midfield, spearheaded by
the impressive Michael Parensen. Toni Leistner also proved himself the ideal partner for Robert
Puncec in the centre of defence with another assured and confident display.It was a fantastic victory for Union, who are fast turning the Alte Försterei into a formidable fortress. Away form must follow suit, though, and the Berliners travel the short distance south to RB Leipzig next Sunday for a chance to push themselves towards the top six.

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