Had some help from Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung and Goal.com Tanzania (oddly enough) as I wrote this practice piece for VfL’s opening-day home loss to Energie Cottbus. Comments always appreciated.
Cottbus sweep hosts Osnabrück aside
Milad Salem’s lofted effort into the top corner three minutes from time gave the home fans something to cheer about as VfL Osnabrück suffered a 3-1 defeat on the opening day of the German Third Division to visiting Energie Cottbus.
Cottbus, eager to get promoted back to the Second Division, sought to close Osnabrück down completely from the outset. Following head coach Stefan Kraemer’s instructions, they pressed high, attempting to win the ball back as soon as they lost it.
The guests struck first on 16 minutes. Zbynek Pospech, who had 25 goals in 57 appearances for his previous club FK Dukla Prague, lifted the ball over Frank Lehmann in the VfL goal from seven yards out. VfL had been caught ball-watching as the cross was played in low from the left by Sven Michel.
Osnabrück retained their composure and kept the score at 0-1 till the break, but their lack of ideas going forward would cost them dearly.
Energie Cottbus doubled their lead on 49 minutes when a swift counter-attack caught most of the VfL backline far forward. This time it was a cross from the right that Michel tucked in at the far post.
Osnabrück pushed further forward, looking to reduce the deficit. Just before the hour mark Cottbus midfielder Manuel Zeitz clipped the ankle of striker Kevin Freiberger and was sent off.
The free kick, 30 metres out, was rolled into the path of Salem. He sent the ball crashing off the crossbar, much to goalkeeper Rene Renno’s relief. Cottbus kept their lead.
It would get worse for the hosts as Cottbus punished them again on the break. Substitute Tim Kleindienst latched on to a pass from midfield, beat his markers and slotted the ball under Lehmann to make it 0-3.
Osnabrück coach Maik Walpurgis decided to make a double substitution, bringing on Massimo Ornatelli for Michael Hohnstedt to strengthen the midfield. Stanislav Iljutchenko replaced Marcos Alvarez to provide new ideas in attack.
Kraemer responded by rearranging the midfield, letting Fanol Perdedaj replace Anton Makarenko in a 4-4-1. With 17 minutes left, a minor miracle would be needed for VfL to turn things around.
Salem’s excellent finish threatened to spark just such a miracle, but the visitors held on well to start their Third Division campaign with a comfortable win at stalwarts VfL Osnabrück.
Cottbus’ 3-1 win places them joint third in the table behind Chemnitzer FC, who picked off Hallescher FC 3-0. Their next opponents, Dynamo Dresden, are also looking for a quick return to the Second Division.