2. Bundesliga Report – Darmstadt 1-1 Fürth: Lilies miss chance to pile pressure on the top three

SV Darmstadt 98 failed to send a clear signal of intent to the top three as they were held to a draw by SpVgg Greuther Fürth.

Fabian Schnellhardt had put them in front early in the second half but they couldn’t hang on to the advantage with substitute Marvin Stefaniak levelling late on.

Lilies short of promotion class

Six wins in eight games have left Darmstadt threatening a late charge for promotion, a curious state of affairs given head coach Dimitrios Grammozis is leaving in the summer and Markus Anfang is already in waiting to replace him. There had even been suggestions that if they had lost against FC St. Pauli – a game they won 4-0 – the change could have been made early, as ridiculous as that sounds.

They were only four points behind Hamburger SV here and would have moved up to fourth with a win. A similar run of form – albeit a few weeks later – had propelled SC Paderborn 07 into the Bundesliga last season, so the hope was there. However, against a Fürth side looking to pass the magic 40-point mark, they were a little short of promotion-form in the first half.

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Despite Schnellhardt’s first league goal for the club capping off an electric start after half-time, they failed to hammer home the advantage when Felix Platte struck the post from a hotly-disputed penalty, and in the end weren’t able to repel the Fürth rear charge, as Stefaniak – himself getting off the mark for his latest club – got the final touch in a scrappy passage of play from a Darmstadt perspective.

“We would have taken seven points at the start of the week,” admitted Grammozis after the game, but he admitted there was “a little disappointment” with his side having not made the most of the position it was in. The defeat to Karlsruher SC aside though, they have restarted the campaign excellently though, and with teams above them faulting, they could still force their way into the reckoning.

Kleeblatt quicker to get going

Both managers had made multiple changes having last played less than 72 hours earlier. Grammozis brought back Fabian Holland, Yannick Stark and Marcel Heller, Stefan Leitl made four changes with the visitors. Maximilian Sauer, Hans Nunoo Sarpei, Julian Green and Daniel Keita-Ruel came in from the team that lost on Tuesday to VfL Osnabrück.

Whilst the theory that away sides are doing better in empty grounds is truer in the Bundesliga than the 2. Bundesliga, it was Fürth who got off to the better start at the ghostly Böllenfalltor, even if chances were at a premium. Keita-Ruel, back in the team for the rested Bradimir Hrgota, headed wide in the seventh minute. Sebastian Ernst came close as well.

Serdar Dursun struck into the side netting against his former side, but Darmstadt’s first genuinely great opportunity came from a free-kick. Schnellhardt’s take would probably have beaten Sascha Burchert if not for an unconventional, last minute run behind the wall from Marco Caligiuri, who headed clear. The ball came back in, with Dursun getting something on it, but Burchert kept it out.

Fürth sent another warning shot soon after, with Keita-Ruel failing to hit the target after meeting a cross from David Raum, but the game was becoming more frantic at both ends, with the hosts benefiting most. Stark and Heller both went wide from the left, whilst in between Nicolai Rapp up from the back struck over.

Darmstadt unable to build on lead

Fürth started the second half well but didn’t heed the warning after nearly getting caught on the counter by Heller and Stark. After a poor corner, the Lilies countered again, with Honsak beating off Raum with ease. He crossed to Schnellhardt, who struck home to give them the lead. For both it was their final contribution, with Grammozis taking them straight off, but key contributions nonetheless.

In fact he made a triple change, with Paik Seung-ho, one of those to come on, making an immediate impact. Running into the box, he appeared to be brought down by Burchert with a penalty awarded. The South Korean got to the ball first but Burchert appeared to win it before taking the midfielder down. Sven Waschitzki had another look on the monitor, upheld his decision, but Platte, who had replaced Dursun at the break, missed the chance to double the advantage.

Hrgota, who was on now as well, had two good chances to level the score, striking over win one before a poor touch prevented him from taking aim on potentially an even better chance. Fürth had found the pace of Darmstadt’s play with their changes, but at this stage it wasn’t quite enough.

Darmstadt nearly made the game safe when Braydon Manu’s strike was brilliantly saved by Burchert, and a couple of minutes later that save became even more important. Keita-Ruel’s connection with a cross was saved but as Darmstadt failed to clear, late substitute Stefaniak got the vital touch to beat Marcel Schuhen and bring Fürth a not undeserved equaliser.

Darmstadt: Schuhen; Bader, Rapp, Dumic, Holland; Pálsson, Stark (Kempe 75‘); Heller (Manu 57‘), Schnellhardt (Paik 57‘), Honsak (Skarke 57‘); Dursun (Platte HT).

Fürth: Burchert, Sauer (Meyerhöfer 66‘), Jaeckel, Caligiuri, Raum; Sarpei (Tillman 66‘), Seguin, Green (Stefaniak 84‘); Leweling (Hrgota HT), Keita-Ruel, Ernst.

Goals: Schnellhardt (56‘); Stefaniak (87‘).

Referee: Sven Waschitzki.

Elsewhere On Friday

SSV Jahn Regensburg again failed to win from a winning position as two Marcos Álvarez goals earned VfL Osnabrück a share of the points. Sebastian Stolze and Max Besuschkow, from the spot, had given Jahn the lead, whilst Assan Ceesay had his penalty saved by Alexander Meyer.

After letting a one-goal lead slip against 1. FC Nürnberg in midweek, Regensburg lost their two-goal advantage here with Álvarez, as he has done so often this season, making the difference for Daniel Thioune’s side from the bench, earning a vital point in their battle against the drop.

Published by jamesrees1989

Football writer. 2. Bundesliga geek. Ex-Football Radar, VAVEL, Read Bundesliga. Tweets at @germanpyramid and @OxonFootball.

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