A last gasp Tim Knipping own goal spared 1. FC Nürnberg from a damaging defeat away at SSV Jahn Regensburg.
Jens Keller’s side had led through Mikael Ishak’s early opener but goals either side of half time from Andreas Albers and Sebastian Stolze had Regensburg on course for all three points.
Nürnberg kept pushing though and luck eventually fell in their favour.
Lack of attacking threat leaves Nürnburg stuck in cellar under Keller
Despite the gift of a late equaliser here, Nürnberg remain in a very precarious position at the bottom of the table. They struggled to create chances consistently through the game and, although he hasn’t started since the coronabreak, even being able to bring the suspended Michael Frey off the bench could have helped them here.
Instead, Keller, who admitted before the game that they were fighting against relegation, was reliant on strikers who have not found the back of the net all season. Mikael Ishak, who scored 12 goals in the promotion campaign of 2017-18, was at least able to break his duck with the early opening goal.
It was an interesting move from Jens Keller, who hadn’t called upon him at all until now, to play the Swede from the start, and although he made a key contribution early on, he couldn’t keep it up and only had one other chance of note, not long before being taken off. He was short of match sharpness, and may have even not lasted long enough to score if an early knock to the knee had been more serious.
“It was a nice feeling to be back on the pitch. I missed the feeling of being on the pitch with the boys and helping out. My performance was okay.”Mikael Ishak
In the end, they were dependant on the goalless trio of Fabian Schleusener, Adam Zreľák and Felix Lohkemeper in the closing stages, and although the latter pair were involved in the equaliser, it was left to the unlucky Knipping to spare their blushes to earn them what, according to Keller, was “a very important point.”
With sides above them winning, and Karlsruher SC – only two points behind in 16th – in action on Wednesday, Keller still has a lot of work to do if he is going to pull them away from danger. Robert Palikuca backed him before the game, but the former Schalke coach will need his strikers to step up over the next month if the board’s faith is to be rewarded.
Jahn force way back after early goal
It took Ishak 11 minutes to break his season duck, but he could even have scored in the opening couple of minutes. A back pass from Charalampos Makridis bobbled sufficiently to bamboozle Alexander Meyer, but Ishak hadn’t quite found his range at this early stage, going wide with his effort. A few minutes later Chima Okoroji had failed to clear the ball, with Oliver Sorg’s cross laid off by Hanno Behrens to the Swede, who could give his side a perfect start this time.
Jahn coach Mersad Selimbegovic had sprung a surprise with his team selection in leaving captain Marco Grüttner on the bench, the first time he had been left in reserve since the club came into the 2. Bundesliga three years ago. Selimbegovic explained after the game that he wanted some fresh legs on the pitch. “Marco is aware that he is no longer the youngest,” he said. “We are in the middle of an English week and have to distribute the strength.”
Albers came in for him and would increasingly become a threat over the course of the first half. First, he hit the post after a deflected Makridis ball, before heading over a clear chance from a corner.
Der Club on the other hand hadn’t been able to maintain their early control and were increasingly bring pushed back by the hosts. There was a further warning sign when Okoroji was able to run clear past Nikola Dovedan, with his cross looping over the head of Christian Mathenia and crashing into the bar. Sebastian Nachreiner, up from the back, also headed wide from a cross from the half-English full-back.
Eventually, it came. The ball this time came from the opposite side, with Benedikt Saller and Makridis combining after a Philip Heise mistake to find Albers. He didn’t hit it cleanly but an apparent deflection off Sorg was enough to get the better of Mathenia.
Jahn moments from important victory
It got even better for them at the start of the season half. A long ball was insufficiently cleared in the box by Asger Sörensen. He could only get it as far as Albers just outside the box, whose strike was blocked by Mathenia. Via an intervention from Erik Wekesser, the ball found its way to Sebastian Stolze, who did the rest.
Nürnberg struggled to find a way back into the game. Schleusener, on at half-time for Heise, was limited to a shot from outside the box, which caused little trouble for Meyer. Ishak, barely a factor now, then put an effort off target. However a superb ball from Konstantinos Mavropanos, on loan from Arsenal, found Ishak on the left, who in turn found Zreľák, who headed into the bar.
Wekesser had come close for the hosts, but otherwise Nürnberg pushed harder and harder for what felt like an essential equaliser in their fight against relegation. Meyer though was proving difficult to beat, and was able to take anything that came his way, including a dangerous cross from Sorg.
In the end, all Nürnberg had left was luck. In stoppage time, Lokhemper and Zreľák combined, with the latter striking on goal. It took a deflection off Nachreiner, and Knipping’s attempt to head the ball clear went badly wrong. He had only just been brought on to see out the win, and with the whistle going straight after the restart, they had been moments away from managing it.
The win would have been just as important for Regensburg, who are only four points better off than Nürnberg and have only one win since January. “It couldn’t be more unfortunate,” felt Selimbegovic. VfL Osnabrück are their next opponents on Saturday, and Nürnberg also have a crucial game, against VfL Bochum, on Sunday.
Regensburg: Meyer; Saller (Hein 69‘), Nachreiner, Correia, Okoroji; Gimber (Geipl 69‘), Besuschkow; Makridis (Derstroff 89‘), Wekesser (Knipping 89‘); Albers, Stolze (Grüttner 78‘).
Nürnberg: Mathenia; Sorg, Sörensen, Mavropanos, Handwerker; Nürnberger, Geis (Zreľák 73‘); Dovedan (Kerk 73‘), Behrens, Heise (Schleusener HT); Ishak (Lohkemper 86‘).
Goals: Albers (44’), Stolze (48’); Ishak (11‘), Knipping (90+4’ OG).
Elsewhere on Tuesday
The big game at the bottom of the table ended in a 1-0 win for SV Sandhausen against SV Wehen Wiesbaden, with Dennis Diekmeier scoring his professional goal, and first goal at any level in nearly ten years.
VfL Osnabrück gave themselves some breathing space in the relegation battle with their first win of 2020 over SpVgg Greuther Fürth. David Blacha opened the scoring early with the other coming from Niklas Schmidt. Lukas Gugganig thought he had scored against his old club, only to see VAR intervene.
SV Darmstadt 98 came from behind to beat FC Erzgebirge Aue 3-1, inflecting a rare home defeat for the Violas. Florian Krüger put Aue ahead but Tobias Kempe’s penalty levelled things before two second half goals from Serdar Dursun.