I sit at my computer desk to watch the early-morning Effzeh match at Erzgebirge Aue with a great deal of trepidation.
Last year’s trip to Aue, and the ugliness surrounding Kevin Wimmer that followed, was definitely the low-light of the season, at least in my view.
Those purple-shirted boys simply play tougher at home than they do away. Plus, they’ve been a cleary-improved squad to start 2014.
Plus, I have it in my head that Karneval, as marvelous as it is and as much as the club and players should always be as involved in it as they are, is a big, fat disctraction for the players.
Considering my hope for the club is to immediately regain the appearance of a table-leading club, it just feels like an unfortunate time for a trip to Aue.
None of it should matter if 1. FC Köln is as good as the results showed before the winter break, but it’s the form since the winter break that has me thinking this is not an ideal time for this road trip. The fact that the Hinspiel was a comfortable 4:1 affair in which the good guy had the purple shirts on the ropes about eleven minutes into things and had them demoralized before half-an-hour had been played is doing nothing to comfort me.
Anyhow. . .
Aufstellung: Well, we shall start with big news from the very start. Anthony Ujah starts on the bench. Peter Stöger sends the boys out in a 4-2-3-1 with Patrick Helmes as the lone striker. Slawomir Peszko takes Ujah’s place among the starters, joining Marcel Risse and Daniel Halfar in an offensive midfield.
I’m torn about this change.
On one hand, it simply clear something does not click with both Helmes and Ujah up front. I also love what Peszko brings when he’s inserted. Plus, I have grown to prefer this formation with the single striker.
On the other hand, I am a big Anthony Ujah fan. More importantly, my four-year-old son is a huge Anthony Ujah fan. We are Ujah fans. Whenever Ujah is out of the picture, I secretly dread the offense sparking to life and making it clear that Ujah won’t have a prominent place with the club going forward.
Of course, “dread” might not be the right word for any situation in which the 1. FC Köln offense catches fire, so let me just say I hope that, eventually, Ujah is big part of a successful story in Köln.
Otherwise, it’s Horn in goal and the same four along the defensive line as usual: Miso Brecko, Dominic Maroh, Kevin Wimmer, and Jonas Hector.
Fans: Seeing the camera pan the visiting stands and seeing all the costumes naturally makes me wish I was in Aue rather than Seattle, drinking beer rather than coffee, and watching live football rather than a time-delayed video file.
Someday, Effzeh fans in Köln, I will be your neighbor. I swear this will happen!
5: Nothing’s really happening but five minutes into the match seems a bit long to not have anything to sat at the very start of the match. I should probably get over that. Slow starts are fairly common, eh?
6: See? If I’d have had patience. . .Frank Löning, who has been the catalyst for Aue’s great 2014 start in my opinion, takes a shot that needs to be credited for it having been taken, but it would have needed a freaky bit of wind or a complete fumble by Horn to become anything. Still, it’s more than the Effzeh has managed on the offensive end.
11: A misplayed ball by Aue in their offensive end lets Peszko run the opposite direction uncontested all the way to the edge of the penalty area where he launches a shot almost as hopeful as the one Löning had, but doesn’t come close to forcing Martin Mäannel into action. FC-TV’s commentator thinks the ball was deflected by a defender, which might explain the distance off target, but the referee thought otherwise.
13: Oh. . .crud.
Yannick Gerhardt Fehlpass goes the other way for a goal.
Essentially, the passing in midfield had been fairly inaccurate in general so far, which is a good part of the reason the Effzeh hadn’t really threatened much. This one simply went bad the entire distance, getting to Guido Kocer on the left side of the area for a cross back toward goal. Jakub Sylvestr caught just enough of the ball as he slid across the ball’s path to redirect it around Horn and get it to trickle into the net.
Now my fears have all been realized.
If there’s a silver lining, it has to be that in Aue’s surprise 1:0 over Kaiserslautern, the Red Devils were eventually able to launch a full assault and keep Aue on their heels for much of the second half. The bad news there is that the Effzeh finishing lately has been marginally better than that of Kaiserslautern, if at all, which means goals aren’t necessarily the result of all that dominance.
15: Quick push the other way yield’s a corner for the good guys, but it’s incredibly harmless.
16: Halfar with a Fehlpass to kill the opportunity to build on offensive end. Soft roller never has a chance to get to Risse. Even Halfar takes a moment to show he is annoyed with the pass before sprinting in pursuit of play headed the other way.
Kocer ends up with ball along goal line near corner flag with back to Horn’s goal. Slight challenge by Maroh and Kocer goes straight to ground, seemingly untouched. Free kick nonetheless. Not too sure about this referee at this point.
17: Free kick goes nowhere, thankfully.
18: FINALLY, a little excitement in the Effzeh offense.
Brecko breaks free down the right flank to catch up to a long leading pass from Risse. Crosses to Helmes near goal, who flicks a back-heeled attempt toward goal, but Männel is there to collect it.
Even so, signs of life.
Mike Könnecke has ball to right of area, tries to con Hector into committing one way or the other, but fails and needs to get through Hector to keep possession of the ball he just played toward the goal line. Könnecke trips over Hector, which helps him find the ground he was clearly seeking, AND THE REFEREE CALLS FOR THE FREE KICK! Who IS this guy? Sub from the 3.Liga? Relegate him!
21: Maybe not precisely a “Ball don’t lie” situation, but the free kick sails well over Horn and net and everything.
Anything resembling a chance would have been criminally unfair.
On the other end, Risse tries to catch Männel leaning/out of position with a hopeful shot. Männel is able to reach up without too much effort and hold onto it.
22: Risse again, this time with a leading ball for Helmes who streaks between two Aue defenders for a first-touch shot that goes pretty much directly to Männel.
What was I saying about the finishing vis-a-vis the failings of Kaiserslautern in that department?
25: Free kick, corner, free kick . . . I have had enough of Aue already. Maybe also this referee.
31: Peszko appears to win a corner kick, but officials rule the ball deflected off him or maybe that they simply don’t like Peszko. Either way, no corner. I need a Bierchen.
34: Well, that should probably have been a goal.
Helmes curls a corner kick away from the goal line. Maroh is there for a header, which he drives toward the turf at the goal line. Männel gets his foot in the way. You have to call that a great reaction, but also a tough break for Maroh.
39: Helmes shows some power in fighting off a pair of challenges to his possession just outside Aue box, but not much comes of it. Still, impressive how he fought off two dudes.
40: A whole bunch of Effzeh bitching at the referee after he awards yet another Aue free kick in a dangerous spot.
Not that dude hasn’t had a few questionable decisions, but this one maybe is not among them.
42: Eventually, the kick is taken and calls Horn into action to keep the ball from sneaking in the top corner. A more-precise shot and Horn has zero chance. As it is, he makes a great save.
On the other end, Risse makes a great first-touch pass to Gerhardt on his way to the area.
Onside and behind the defense, he has Peszko similarly positioned on opposite side of the box.
With Männel committed to stopping Gerhardt, the young midfielder opts to pass to the seemingly wide-open Peszko who somehow SOMEHOW fails to meet the ball and is then maybe bumped to the turf by the defender in pursuit.
I’ve run it back and rewatched it about seven times. I have no idea how that did not turn into a goal, but it’s the first opportunity to mention that Ujah is far from the only one who fails to convert big opportunities this year. My goodness!
Halftime: The immediate reaction for me is that the reduction to a single striker definitely took away some of the flow of the offense, particularly in the penalty area. Easy enough to negate that by pointing out there is no difference between “no goals from many chances” and “no goals from fewer chances” in any way that’s important. Not sure you just abandon the change, but, results-wise, it’s difficult to see the benefit so far.
But, again, what do I know?
Ujah will start the second half, but so will Thomas Bröker? Okay. . .
No clue who’s come off, however. I cannot imagine Helmes off for Ujah, but I guess Ujah did all his scoring as the lone attacker last season, so maybe?
46: Well, there are Helmes and Halfar on the ball in the center circle, so it’s neither of them.
I saw Lehmann on the pitch, so that leaves Gerhardt (likely), Risse (maybe?), and Peszko (I doubt it?). I figure you don’t pull Peszko yet since it’s his first go from start in a while, so I’d bet on Gerhardt and Risse, but that’s probably going to be shown to be wrong pretty quickly. Again, late-coming American here.
There’s Peszko winning a corner. . .that comes to nothing. Still, it appears I had the right pair swapped out.
I have a hard time with Bröker over just about anyone. He’s not shown me much in my time since becoming a fan, though I do appreciate his tenacity.
In any case, a more-offensive plan for the second half, even if it’s essentially the same offensive plan that hasn’t really been working that well this year.
47: I think that’s the referee who was doling out yellow cards in another match a few weeks ago. I’ll have to look that up later.
51: Good grief!
That was perilously close!
Corner headed by Paulus forward to Sylvestr who shot onto goal from point-blank range. Wimmer got his leg in the way to deflect it over the crossbar or that’s the 2:0. Yikes!
To the bumbling official’s credit, he misses Wimmer’s touch, giving a goal kick to Horn. At least he’s erring on both sides?
(As someone who officiates sports himself, I’m rotten for being critical, but he’s missed a few!)
55: A few balls into the box over the last few minutes, but nothing of huge interest. Bröker supplied one, so I suppose that needs acknowledged.
56: Bröker sends another cross into the box. Ujah in the right spot, but has almost nothing on his headed chance. Männel still fumbles the ball before securing it. Another big chance flies by the wayside.
58: Lehmann takes a crack from the second row. Rolls just past the post. Clearly, the message from Stöger was to get the ball onto goal. Already feels like the second half has had more chances than the first. Forget everything I said about 4-2-3-1 earlier.
60: Halfar is running his ass off right now. I dig that.
I have a glass of wine with me right now. I may curse a bit now and up the misspelling count.
63: Ujah turns on the speed to scare the daylights out of a defender running with him toward the ball. Defender surrenders a corner and does so gladly. Ujah feisty. I did that, too.
65: Crap pass from Bröker into an open patch of grass nobody in red was ever getting to.
68: “Es gibt Elfmeter.”
Why the hell am I watching this match?!
Sylvestr gets clear with the ball. Maroh tries to defend from behind, misses ball but not the player. Penalty kick coming. I hate this match. I hate Erzgebirge Aue.
69: Löning bangs it in off the post. Horn had the right direction (to his left), but had zero chance at reaching that one. 2:0 for the men in purple. I cannot wait for Tuesday for my fatty, sugary treats. I need them now!
Wait! I have wine!
71: Ujah can’t score on a cross to him near a post, but he manages to injure a pair of Aue players. So that’s something.
Neither Nickenig or Männel seem to need magic spray. We can continue
75: COME ON!
Ujah and Helmes together in the area. Ujah passes to Helmes with nobody between him and the goal other than Männel. Helmes’ attempt goes straight at the keeper. It’s not his day, apparently, except that it is. His birthday, that is.
76: Finne coming on for Peszko. This should get interesting if his time on the pitch against Paderborn is any teacher. Maybe he can convert some of those chances this time, now that he’s some 2. Bundesliga experience under his belt.
80: Just realizing that the one big chance deflected by Wimmer and the penalty are the only chances of any sort Aue has produced this half. Ugh.
Halfar has banged that second-row shot off the crossbar a few times if memory serves, but not this one. Curves perfectly over the outstretched hand of the leaping Männel and under the cross bar for the 2:1 and Halfar’s first of the season. Long-time coming for all his spirited play.
Considering the one-way traffic this half for the most part, shortening the deficit is the least the Effzeh should get from it. Still time for more, and it’s not out of the question right now.
Being an Effzeh fan sometimes means that finally getting one late goal makes you feel your team can score two more in five minutes or so.
89: What the hell just happened?!
Halfar cannot stop scoring?!
Finne heads the ball down to himself in the area and tries to dribble through traffic.
The ball ends up rolling beyond the edge of the area toward Halfar, who had just rejoined play after staying on the ground a bit long, probably in an effort to draw a free kick in a good spot. It looks like Finne may have actually made a pass, but I can’t tell from my video.
Either way, Halfar drilled a shot which looks to have deflected off an Aue leg and into goal just inside the post.
Five days after the draw that felt like a loss, are we getting a draw that will feel a bit like a victory?
90+: Aue fans start whistling for the final whistle very early in added time. They know the deal right now. Ten more minutes and they might lose by a few goals.
Bröker uncorks a shot that Männel stops fairly easily, which turns out to be the final interesting action of the match.
Blown chances are the only thing that make this match a draw. Our guys controlled far too much of the play to need to have come from behind, but coming from behind by two is nothing to be dismissed too easily.