The 1. FC Köln allowed a two-goal lead to evaporate in a five-minute span late in the final quarter-hour of the match and was forced to settle for a draw with regional-league outfit SV Eintracht Trier before a Moselstadion crowd of 3,136.
Assistant coach Manfred Schmid was in charge for the day, with Peter Stöger not making the trip with the team. Schmid was forced to present a somewhat-makeshift squad due to several notable absences in the squad for various reasons.
Despite Thomas Kessler originally announced as the starter for the test, young Daniel Mesenhöler ultimately got the nod. In front of him was 3/4 of a very familiar-looking back line in Dominique Heintz, Dominic Maroh, and Marcel Risse, but with Jonas Hector and Filip Mladenovic both away with their national teams (Germany and Serbia, respectively), Pawel Olkowski got the call at left back.
Using the 4-2-3-1 rather than any of the more-experimental formations with three central defenders that was employed in the second half of the season just ended, Schmid also had a veteran double-pivot with Kevin Vogt and Matthias Lehmann in defensive midfield. Yet, despite the recent news that he will again serve as team captain for the coming season, Matze did not wear the armband Thursday. Instead it was Leonardo Bittencourt who took the honors while manning his normal station on the left flank and teamed in the midfield with late-season bloomer Milos Jojic and young talent Marcel Hartel.
Simon Zoller was given the chance to perform as the lone striker.
Eintracht Trier, which will play in the final of the Rheinlandpokal Saturday for a berth in the 2016-17 DFB Pokal, presented themselves well offensively in the first half, constructing several decent opportunities against their Bundesliga opposition. The FC, though, had several near misses in the early going, the biggest coming off the foot of Zoller. Bittencourt lofted a precise ball from outside the area to within a step or two of the Trier keeper. Zoller struck the ball as it came down, but Trier keeper Chris Keilmann slid into place just in time to have the shot deflect off him away from his goal.
Approaching the 40th minute, captain-for-a-day Bittencourt got the better of his counterpart Michael Dingels, drawing an erroneous tackle inside the penalty area. Vogt stepped to the spot and drilled the ball straight into the center of the net, right where Keilmann had been before diving to his right, opening the door for the 1:0.
Five minutes later, Köln showed their guests their counterattacking ability when a blind cross from Christoph Buchner was collected by Heintz and immediately slid forward to Lehmann. Matze immediately spotted his own substitute captain on a sprint half a field-length away and managed to provide a leading pass for him, allowing Bittencourt to collect the 2:0 by beating Keilmann from a step inside the area.
With a very short bench, Schmid’s only change to start the second half was to replace Zoller with Philipp Hosiner.
The FC had at least one more huge chance go by the wayside after the halftime break, when Jojic danced his way into the area and got Keilmann down onto the turf. Without any clear daylight for a shot, however, Jojic played the ball back to Hosiner, whose shot deflected harmlessly off the shin of a Trier defender.
Goal-scorer Vogt eventually made way for 18-year-old Salih Özcan to get about a half-hour of run with the professionals, marking the only other substitution Köln would make on the day.
The fateful turnaround began with a corner kick sailed into the middle of the Köln penalty area by Julian Bidon where it was met by the head of Christopher Spang, who outleapt Özcan to flick the ball just inside the far post with just enough behind it to elude the diving effort of Mesenhöler.
As well executed as Trier’s first goal was, their equalizer was perhaps even better. Right back Florian Riedel alertly moved forward to help collect a corner cleared by Köln and took advantage of the time ceded him to send a ball into the area for 17-year-old midfielder Vincent Boesen, who volleyed the ball straight past Mesenhöler.
The FC had a few more strong chances down the stretch to regain the lead, but neither Jojic or Bittencourt could quite find the right final touch for a game-deciding moment.
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