An important victory! VfL beat FC Heidenheim under the floodlights at Castroper Staße on Friday night to finally get back to winning ways. After a scoreless first half, in which Tom Weilandt had the best opportunity when he hit the post, VfL piled on the pressure in the second half. The guests went down to ten men after 60 minutes when Andrich was sent off for his second yellow card. The VfL power play which followed the sending-off finally came to fruition when Chung-Yong Lee scored his first goal of the season 77th minute. Not a bad start to the weekend.

Last week’s draw in Dresden, which put an end to VfL’s downward spiral, nourished hopes that VfL would be able to get back on track with a win against Heidenheim on matchday 25. “The players on the pitch must be passionate. After the small step in Dresden, we must take the even larger step by winning this home match,” Robin Dutt said at the pre-match press conference.

His team had to be changed in several positions due to injuries. The coach had to do without Tom Baack, Jannik Bandowski, Maxim Leitsch, Baris Ekincier and Sidney Sam. On top of that, top scorer Lukas Hinterseer and Danilo Soares were not able to play due to a hamstring injury and a concussion respectively. Sebastian Meier also had to be replaced due to a groin injury. The gaps in the squad were filled by Silvère Ganvoula, Dominik Baumgartner and Thomas Eisfeld for whom it was his season debut in the squad. Soares and Hinterseer’s places in the VfL first eleven were taken by Robert Tesche and Chung Yong Lee. Vitaly Janelt took on Soares‘ role as left full back. Tom Weilandt, who has recently renewed his contract with VfL for another three years, featured as a striker.

Heidenheim’s team had been hit by the flu so Dutt’s counterpart, Frank Schmidt, had to replace Marnon Busch, Arne Feick, Niklas Dorsch, Oliver Steurer, Robert Strauß, Nikola Dovedan and Maxi Thiel. Three of those players had been part of the starting line-up in the match against Regensburg which had resulted in Heidenheim’s first loss after an unbeaten run of nine matches. Tim Skarke, Maurice Multhaup and Denis Thomalla filled the gaps in the starting line-up and the bench was filled up with U19 players.

In the first match against Heidenheim this season, Bochum had conceded late on, succumbing to a 3 – 2 defeat having led 2 – 1. So, Bochum were determined to get the three points this time. VfL showed commitment from the beginning of the match but the guests had the first opportunity after three minutes. Multhaup fired in a low cross from the right and Robert Glatzel received the ball backheeling it towards goal in acrobatic fashion. However, the effort lacked the necessary power and so Manual Riemann made an easy save.

Both sides defended well and left hardly any space for attacking moves. VfL’s first chance came when Anthony Losilla was set up nicely by Lee and Weilandt on 13 minutes but his effort from a promising position was blocked. Now, Bochum took control of the match. After Marc Schnatterer had missed the Bochum goal on 14 minutes, the home side came really close to scoring for the first time five minutes later. Miloš Pantović whipped in a cross which found Janelt on the other side of the pitch. Janelt passed the ball to Weilandt but he somewhat mishit the ball which went past the right post.

Bochum were definitely the dominant side now and two free kicks by Tim Hoogland created further trouble for Heidenheim. After Hoogland’s second attempt on 29 minutes, some on the Bochum side called for handball but referee, René Rohde, disagreed. The home side seemed determined to score before the break. After 32 minutes, a Heidenheim free kick was intercepted and Riemann played a long ball, Simon Zoller flicked it on neatly and Weilandt hit the post with his volley effort – what a chance! Five minutes later, Heidenheim managed to create some danger again. Schnatterer whipped a free kick into the box and Thomalla’s attempt was thwarted by Riemann with a superb reaction save. The first half then came to a close without goals on either side.

No substitutions were made during the break. Again, the guests created the first opportunity. Tesche lost the ball and Heidenheim broke fast setting up Glatzel who hit the crossbar with his left-footed shot after 48 minutes. Both teams had now hit the woodwork once. But Bochum remained unimpressed and went on to create chances. Tesche’s long-range effort on 51 minutes posed no serious threat to Kevin Müller’s goal though. Moments later, Zoller received the ball, wheeled around and took a shot which resulted in Bochum’s fifth corner. Then, Weilandt provoked a foul close to the penalty area and Andrich was shown the first yellow card of the match. Bochum was edging closer to scoring but didn’t manage to play the final pass.

Heidenheim’s head coach reacted and replaced Tim Skarke with Gökalp Kilic close to the hour mark. Andrich then received his second yellow card for a tactical foul on Jan Gyamerah. Bochum had half an hour left to exploit their numerical advantage. Now, the match only really took place in Heidenheim’s half. On 69 minutes, Weilandt took a shot from 18 yards through the Heidenheim defence and forced a good reaction save form Müller. A minute later, the striker aimed too high from a similar position having failed to spot Tesche in a more promising area. The exhausted Pantović was then substituted for Eisfeld who made his season debut.

The pressure on the Heidenheim goal was now increasing by the minute and redemption finally came after 77 minutes. Weilandt serviced Tesche on the right side who then brought in a low precision cross. Lee received the ball and tapped in for his first ever Bochum goal. What a joy!

There were ten minutes to go and Bochum wanted to extend their lead. Eisfeld had two decent chances but the first time Müller managed to intercept the ball and the second time Eisfeld didn’t get his shot on target. Of course, Heidenheim had to attack now. Schmidt went all in and made a double substitution. Schnatterer and Timo Beermann were replaced by Patrick Schmidt and Tobias Reithmeir after 86 minutes. Dutt reacted by substituting Lee for Stefano Celozzi a minute later. During the three-minute injury time, Bochum kept possession and Zoller almost scored Bochum’s second. But his lob fell onto the netting with one minute to go. In the dying moments of the game Baumgartner replaced Weilandt and then it was over. Having failed to win any of the last five matches, the victory against Heidenheim was greeted with relief – a strong performance!