1. FC Union Berlin's final pre-season game against Premier League side Nottingham Forest ended in a 1-0 win at the Stadion An der Alten Försterei.
Summer signing Jordan Siebatcheu put the ball in the net for the first time in Union colours, assisted by Sheraldo Becker. The match was an opportunity for the Union faithful to show appreciation and good luck to Taiwo Awoniyi who left for the City Ground this summer.
1. FC Union Berlin: Rönnow, Jaeckel (Leite 45), Khedira (Schäfer 60), Haberer (Michel 60), Gießelmann (Ryerson 60), Haraguchi (Seguin 60), Becker (Leweling 60), Trimmel (Skarke 60), Knoche (Kemlein 82), Heintz (Doekhi 45), Siebatcheu (Behrens 60)
Nottingham Forest: Henderson, Cook (Niakhate 45), Worrall, Williams (Biancone 80), Colback, Awoniyi (Hammond 70), Toffolo (Soh 80), Mighton (Taylor 58), Johnson (Taylor 80), McKenna (Laryea 80), O’Brien (Diaz 60)
There was another international feel to the final pre-season game of the summer as our traditional IFA friendly returns following two years knocked out of the calendar due to the pandemic. IFA is the the world’s most important innovation exhibition for home and consumer brands. The event will take place at Messe Berlin between 2nd and 6th September, 2022. This year’s opponents were Nottingham Forest who returned to the Premier League after 23 years in the Championship. Steve Cooper’s side included a familiar face to Union fans in the shape of Taiwo Awoniyi, our record goalscorer in the Bundesliga and a summer sale to the English club. The Nigerian striker was introduced to the Stadion An der Alten Försterei with 15 minutes to go until the match and received a warm reception, including from president Dirk Zingler, Managing Director of Professional Football Oliver Ruhnert and captain Christopher Trimmel. Urs Fischer’s current squad, meanwhile, has been methodically put together over the summer ahead of three competitions this term. Jordan Siebatcheu was given the nod up front next to Sheraldo Becker, while Janik Haberer was another of the new boys in the starting line-up. Union started very brightly against Premier League opposition with a flurry of early chances. Sheraldo Becker was in the mood, crossing for Niko Gießelmann who went for a spectacular volley but the implementation was lacking. Awoniyi’s first key role in Köpenick after his exit was to block a shot from Paul Jaeckel while Janik Haberer missed at the far-post from the resulting Gießelmann corner kick, prolonged by Robin Knoche’s knockdown. Nottingham Forest left-back Harry Toffolo hit the post with an ambitious drive from long-range. The Forest front-three of Brennan Johnson, Awoniyi and Alex Mighten were energetic and hard-working, but Union largely kept them at bay. It was a loose clearance from Union that landed straight to Johnson but the winger failed to convert. Union were able to take the lead, nine minutes before the turnaround. Becker picked up on a mistake from Scott McKenna, eventually delivering at the second opportunity. Running in to smash home was Siebatcheu who celebrated scoring his first goal for Union Berlin. Johnson turned the Union defence on 40 minutes, driving in behind with pace but the finish from Awoniyi was wide of Rönnow’s goal. The final act of the half nearly resulted in Siebatcheu heading in his second after a brilliant cross from Rani Khedira.
Danilho Doekhi and Diogo Leite were brought on at the break in place of Paul Jaeckel and Dominique Heintz. A bouncing ball offered Siebatcheu a chance at goal inside the first minute of the second half but McKenna and substitute Moussa Niakhate snuffed out the danger. On 59 minutes, Siebatcheu was unfortunate not to score a second, blazing over from close range. The counter-attack was led brilliantly by Haberer who combined with Gießelmann and the full-back’s cross was inch perfect for the American. On the hour, seven changes were announced with Andras Schäfer, Sven Michel, Julian Ryerson, Paul Seguin, Jamie Leweling, Tim Skarke and Kevin Behrens coming on. All three subs combined on 67 minutes with Ryerson winning the ball back, letting Leweling sprint down the wing, the cross was to the near post but Behrens fired wide of the target. Substitute Skarke combined with Seguin on the right and nearly went the whole way on his own, but Niakhate intervened. With eight minutes to play, Aljoscha Kemlein took the place of Robin Knoche and continued his series of appearances in the side in pre-season. Skarke and Behrens combined a minute after the restart of play, the Union striker firing a powerful strike towards goal but Laryea stepped in to block. It was another sensational piece of play from Skarke that led Union towards goal with four minutes left. The substitute drove into the danger area and went on his own with Dean Henderson making a fine stop turn the ball away from the bottom corner. And there was one final chance before Sven Jablonski blew the whistle on this season’s IFA friendly. Kemlein did superbly well to recover possession outside the box, Michel went through but blazed over the bar.
With the bounce games over, Union will look forward to competitive action next week when Urs Fischer's team head to Chemnitz for the first round of the DFB Pokal on Monday August 1.