1. FC Heidenheim 1846 vs 1. FC Union Berlin
German 2. Bundesliga, 14. Matchday
Heidenheim vs 1. FC Union
German 2. Bundesliga, 14. Matchday
Union Berlin beaten in Heidenheim for first time in six games
Despite a gallant second half effort, Union Berlin and Jens Keller suffered their first league defeat in six games after going down 4-3 at Heidenheim.
The Köpenick club had to respond after going 2-0 down at the hour mark, but couldn’t edge the game in their favour in a topsy-turvy encounter.
For such a high-scoring match, it was a surprise that the 12,000 fans in the Voith-Arena had to wait until almost half time for the opening goal. Before that, the game was largely even with Jakob Busk defending his goal with great authority and the trio of Felix Kroos, Grischa Prömel and Damir Kreilach battling well in midfield.
But Busk was beaten, a minute before the break, when Arne Feick popped up from the left-hand side and finished off a fine cross from Marc Schnatterer.
Even though the coach introduced Stephan Fürstner into the middle of the pitch, it didn’t change how dangerous Heidenheim were on the break. The left-hand side was the focus again for Heidenheim, with John Verhoek heading on to the woodwork before reacting quickest to turn in the rebound after 60 minutes.
Union’s character came to the fore in the aftermath with Sebastian Polter being brought down for a penalty kick, then stepping up to score himself, four minutes later. Just as a fightback seemed possible, Schnatterer lashed a 35-yard free kick into the bottom corner, past the outstretched arm of Busk.
Not much longer than five minutes later, Union hit back again. Akaki Gogia’s pass cut open the Heidenheim defence and Steven Skrzybski finished off from a tight angle.
If there were signs of life in Keller’s side, conceding again (4-2) made it all the more frustrating. Dutch striker Verhoek was once again unmarked inside the box to open a two-goal advantage for the home side, although that was cut out less than 60 seconds later by Skrzybski’s second of the day.
Keller’s side pushed on towards the end for the equaliser, but aside from a penalty shout against Polter, there was nothing to faze Frank Schmidt’s team. “We just made too many mistakes today; we made too many against and with the build-up play,” analysed Keller in the post-match media conference. “My team still showed huge morale. It was our plan to play this game, but we didn’t because of so many errors. We are annoyed that we couldn’t bring our best performance.”
Union will be keen to return to winning form when Darmstadt are the visitors to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei on Saturday.
2.Bundesliga returns: confident Union head to Heidenheim
Union Berlin are back in 2.Bundesliga action this weekend with a trip to Heidenheim on the horizon for Jens Keller’s side. During the international break, Union hosted AC Horsens at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei and drew 1-1 with the Danish outfit.
A win at the Voith-Arena on Saturday (13:00) will bring Union in touch with Fortuna Düsseldorf and Holstein Kiel at the top of the league. “We want to go there and win this game. We have the quality to do this when we play at our best,” said Keller. “We have played the last six games very well – we’ve got nothing to fear.”
Heidenheim’s form has stabilised since the beginning of the season with Frank Schmidt’s men digging out impressive performances recently against Fortuna Düsseldorf (2-2) and at home to 1.FC Nürnberg (1-0). Those results ended a three-game streak of defeats, but it hasn’t been able to lift Heidenheim out of relegation difficulty.
A key route to goal in Heidenheim could be Union’s strength at set-piece situations. Keller’s side have already scored seven headed goals – the highest in the division. However, the Berliners will need to do without suspended Christopher Trimmel, who has assisted the most goals for the club from Köpenick this season. For Sunday, Keller is also without Atsuto Uchida, Michael Parensen, Fabian Schönheim and Kenny Prince Redondo.
From the six league encounters, Heidenheim and Union share three victories each. Schmidt’s team did come out on top in the DFB Pokal clash in 2015. However, Keller isn’t focused on previous meetings between the two: “The statistics don’t speak for us and we move on now,” he said.
More than 1,000 Union supporters are expected to travel to the Voith-Arena in Heidenheim – over 600km to the south. Tickets for the match are still available for the home and away sections of the stadium.