After four consecutive defeats, the last of which came a week ago away against Magdeburg, the first home game of the year in the second half of the 2. Bundesliga against Hertha BSC was on the programme this Saturday.
I was a little tense, as the team was slowly slipping down the table, but confident that we could win against the Berliners as we had done in the first half of the season, even though Hertha had been unbeaten for almost 10 games. Bärbel, the good soul to my left, was also back in the stadium and we encouraged each other in the best football weather (a little cold but sunny). We had to win again to avoid falling into a mental downward spiral. We and 10,454 spectators believed in it … no, less, because a good quarter of the spectators were quite vociferous Berlin fans. The visitors’ curve was packed.
While Bärbel and I had some small talk and she told me how nice it was to be able to enjoy her retirement after more than 40 years in one and the same company and I thought about my alarm clock ringing at 07:00 on Monday morning, our fans drummed and sang themselves warm and were suddenly swept away by the vocal power of the Berliners! Unbelievable how this curve could sing and give me goose bumps!
Everything went as expected in the first 20 minutes of the game. We are by no means a team that goes straight forward, no, we stand at the back and let the others play. And that’s what Hertha did. They played … but you could somehow tell that they weren’t fully focussed. Perhaps it was due to the unrest in the club, as their president had recently passed away unexpectedly. Somehow it was unimaginative possession and occasionally some solid poking. It wasn’t a pretty game and there were hardly any scoring chances for the Berliners because they simply made too many mistakes.
We weren’t really happy with ours either. The “football experts” in the row behind me were once again verbally picking on our striker Franko Kovacevic, who had joined us this season but had so far remained extremely pale … until, after a quick counter-attack and a shot on goal from Heußer, Kovacevic somehow managed to poke the ball into the net after it had been blocked by the keeper! 1:0!
11 appearances, only 2 of them from the start for Kovacivic and in this one he finally scores his first goal. The joy was immense and you could literally see the load off his mind. Half the bench hugged him as he celebrated the goal and the pundits behind me seemed speechless.
But it got even better after Wehen-Wiesbaden had two really good chances by Prtajin and Goppel in the remainder of the first half but couldn’t put the ball in the net and Hertha seemed happy to go in at half-time. The visitors came out of the half much more motivated and had two good chances, only to see Kovacevic put the ball in the net again after a cross from Wehen’s Jacobsen because his foot was in the right place at the right time. 2:0 instead of 1:1 … yessss and again Kovacevic and that in best striker manner!
Berlin wobbled, but did not give up. They were lucky that AGAIN Kovacevic only hit the crossbar two minutes later, but Kenny made it 2:1 from distance just three minutes later.
It was now a fast-paced and thrilling game and our keeper Strietzel had a lot to do and my nerves were a little frayed. A narrow lead with just under half an hour left to play. Both teams now made a few substitutions, which only briefly slowed the pace of the game. That was until the 72nd minute, when Thijmen Goppel left half the Hertha defence standing in a wonderful counter-attack and scored to make it 3:1! Yessss…
The Berlin team were now a little out of steam, even if they kept trying, but our team slowed the game down a little and cleverly took a minute or two off the clock until the referee finally blew the final whistle in the 95th minute.
If we want to stay in the 2nd division, we have to at least somehow win our home games. We are currently in 10th place in the table, but only 5 points or 3 defeats away from the relegation places. All the teams below us will be doing everything they can to overtake us. Kaiserslautern and Rostock also won this weekend and next week we have to play Karlsruhe. We’ll have to grit our teeth and hope that Frank Kovacevic will become our new goal machine now that he seems to have hit his stride.
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