VfL Bochum were able to hold on for another crucial win over Holstein Kiel on Wednesday evening.
Second half goals from Jordi Osei-Tutu and Silvère Ganvoula set Bochum on their way, and despite Jonas Meffert pulling one back, Kiel were unable to snatch a point.
Reis improving Bochum brick-by-brick
With seven points from their first three games back, Bochum appear to be easing away from the relegation danger they have spent most of the season in. The reverse fixture in October had been one of the biggest nadirs of a difficult campaign, beaten 2-1 with little more than a whimper, their consolation only coming from one of the strangest penalties ever awarded.
Thomas Reis had been in charge for six games by that stage but it was clear that there was no quick fix to Bochum’s problems, namely finding the right balance with a creaky defence and a first-class attack that was easily neutralised if they tried too hard to fix things at the back.
Slowly but surely, he has patiently placed the pieces to improve things, from bringing back Robert Tesche to the slow integration of January signings Vasilios Lampropoulos and Robert Zulj. The former had helped then concede just one goal in his four starts – Meffert’s header here – whilst Zulj once again showed signs of his class here, perfectly picking out Ganvoula for the second goal having been the only real threat for his side in the first half.
The revitalisation of Osei-Tutu has also been a success for the former youth coach. The Englishman had been virtually written off in August after some weak displays, but playing mostly as a winger now, he has impressed, and broke the deadlock here with his fourth goal of the season, despite having disappointed in the first half.
It set Bochum on their way to putting a six-point gap between them and the bottom three, and the fact they were able to hold on, having bottled it so many times this season, was another sign of the progress that they are making.
Kiel better side in first half
They didn’t get it quite right from the start here. The first half was a cagey affair, but it was the visitors who were the quickest to get going. A good ball from Alexander Mühling allowed Lee Jae-song to set up a chance for David Atanga, but his effort was saved by Manuel Riemann.
The trio would be involved in most of Kiel’s good attacking moves. Later in the half, a cross from Mühling found Atanga, who had replaced Fabian Reese in the starting line-up, but he couldn’t beat Riemann, even if the Bochum goalkeeper couldn’t save convincingly. Atanga was also the driving force behind a threatening counter just before the break, but Emmanuel Iyoha up front was able to make the most of the opportunity set up for him.
Bochum, by contrast, struggled to get out of second gear although they edged the possession stats. Their only chances of note in the first half came from mid-range shots from Zulj, neither of which were particularly difficult for Ioannis Gelios to deal with. Speaking after the game, Reis felt his side had been “static” and there had been “no way through” against a good Kiel side.
Bochum were without Danny Blum, struggling with a thigh problem, and Simon Zoller, out for the rest of the season with an inner ligament tear in his knee. Milos Pantovic came in for the latter on the left and Osei-Tutu continued on the right, but both were pale throughout the first 45 minutes. At least there were no repeat of the defensive failings in the first half against Karlsruher SC at the weekend.
Bochum find a way to win
Reis, not for the first time this season, appeared to have put a rocket up his team at half time. Danilo Soares triggered their best move of the game up to now, with Pantovic and Zulj combing. The latter then teed up Osei-Tutu on his right, with the Arsenal youngster once again showing coolness in front of goal.
Finn Porath headed into the crossbar for Kiel, but neither that nor a triple change from Ole Werner soon after could stop the game shifting in favour of Bochum. The lead was made more secure when, breaking out of a midfield battle, Zulj’s pass was latched onto by Ganvoula and, despite Gelios getting a touch, his shot was perfectly placed.
Bochum had by this stage gone three and a half games without conceding a goal, but eventually they were caught out by a set piece, with Stefan Thesker beating Maxim Leitsch to a corner and his extension being headed in by Jonas Meffert.
Kiel pushed for an equaliser but Bochum could have finished the game first, with Sebastian Maier hitting the crossbar with probably his first touch after replacing Pantovic. The Storks’ best chance came in stoppage time, as Jannik Dehm volleyed what would have been a superb goal over. And in contrary to so many times this season, Bochum managed to hold on to a lead at home.
Bochum: Riemann; Gamboa (Weilandt 67’), Lampropoulos, Leitsch, Soares; Tesche (Janelt HT), Losilla; Osei-Tutu (Bella-Kotchap 90+2’), Zulj, Pantovic (Maier 81’); Ganvoula.
Kiel: Gelios; Neumann (Schmidt 84‘), Thesker, Wahl, Seo (van der Bergh 56‘); Mühling, Meffert; Porath (Dehm 67‘), Lee, Atanga (Reese 56‘); Iyoha (Lauberbach 56‘).
Goals: Osei-Tutu (49’), Ganvoula (63’); Meffert (74’).
Reis was happy in the end that his side had improved in the second half. “When you see how we scored the goals, it was sensational,” he said. Werner, by contrast, was left to rue his side’s failure to make the most of their first half chances. “In the second half we had a bad break,” he felt. “We didn’t play what how wanted to for 15-20 minutes. This is also the phase in which the opponent scores (their goals).”
Kiel face leaders Arminia Bielefeld next, Bochum travel to struggling 1. FC Nürnberg.
Elsewhere on Wednesday
Karlsruher SC were able to get a crucial point away from home at Hannover 96, with Philipp Hofmann cancelling out Edgar Prib’s opener in the second half.
The points were also shared between FC St. Pauli and 1. FC Heidenheim, who miss out on the chance to move into second. Robert Leipertz missed a first half penalty for them.