Union: Grill – Puchacz, Heintz (Maciejewski), Van Dronghelen, Doekhi (c), Skarke – Thorsby (Schäfer), Seguin (Pantovic), Öztunali (Möhwald) – Michel (Behrens), Lewelling
Hannover 96: Weinkauf (Stahl)– Celebi, Krajnc, Dehm (Kunze), Walbrecht (Neumann) – Stolze, Ondoua (Muroya), Leopold, Kerk (Foti), Teuchert (Beier) - Tresoldi
Union stronger, but the game lacking spark
Prenzlauerberg’s Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark may have been home to 1. FC Union Berlin for one long, glorious season - winning the 3.Liga there while the Unioner rebuilt the Alte Försterei - but despite the memories of Stuffi and of Glinker, of Tusche and of Karim, it was never really home. It couldn’t be for many reasons.
But following their rousing victory in the derby against Hertha BSC, rebuilding of a different, much smaller and infinitely more mundane kind, meant that Union were back in Prenzlauerberg to host Hannover 96 in a warm-up.
Union’s line up was completely changed from that win, the opportunity for Urs Fischer to give his squad members a run-out, as well as newcomers like Morton Thorsby who had arrived in Berlin only a week or so ago, and Danilho Doekhi who was handed the captain’s armband on only his second start for Union.
Rick van Drongelen headed over a Tymoteusz Puchachz corner after seven minutes. Thorsby’s clever ball over the top for Jamie Leweling five minutes later coming to nothing. But the Norwegian looked keen. Puchacz ran 40m, beating Cedric Teuchert – and how nice it was to see the ex-Unioner again –on the outside, but it came to nothing. After half an hour Thorsby’s close range header was palmed over by the excellent Leo Weinkauf.
It was that kind of a game. Even Hannover hadn’t had time to leave the pitch after their warm-ups, arriving late because their train had been delayed.
Tim Skarke bustled on the right, Puchachz hared up and down the left, Thorsby strived to create in the middle but it was all a bit imprecise, a bit disjointed. The ball bouncing forlornly off Ekin Celebi, the Hannover left back, for a throw in summing up the lacklustre nature of the game. On 38 minutes Leweling turned and got a shot off with his left, but it was again saved by a diving Weinkauf.
Hannover take the lead, but can’t hold on
Tresogi opened the scoring for the guests, a free-kick from the right bending into the box, into the myre, where Nicolo Tresoldi was on hand to bundle it over the line. It was scruffy, unlikely, and somehow also fitting.
Union made several changes, the introduction of Kevin Behrens, Andras Schäfer, Tim Maciejewski and Milos Pantovic intended to inject a bit of life into their veins, but Hannover grew more dogged as the game wore on and the shadows lengthened, themselves having made six substitutions at the break. The industrious Puchacz full of endeavour, Doekhi glided into the back post, but his shot was blocked by Weinkauf’s replacement, Toni Stahl.
Stahl made another beautiful save, pushing Puchacz’s shot away onto the post, but in the chaos that ensued Kevin Behrens was there to head home past the despairing keeper. Union pushed on after that but had to settle for a draw. The fans were happy though, and content to not have to delight only in those memories of happier times.