A sold out stadium at anne Castroper, no better place to spend a Saturday afternoon than in the sun at the Vonovia Ruhrstadion. VfL put in a solid display in front of 26,600 spectators, even though we had to settle for "just" the one point against Hamburger SV. Robin Dutt’s injury depleted squad put a courageous performance right from the start. The blue and whites were unlucky that they were denied a penalty kick in injury time and consequently forced to settle for just the one point.
Robin Dutt was forced to make several changes as a small injury crisis hampered the club’s preparations. Chung-Yong Lee was rested after featuring for South Korea during the international break, with Soares, Bandowski, Janelt, Maier, Kruse, Sam and Zoller all missing out through respective short-term injuries. Jan Gyamerah also missed out due to the red card that he received in VfL’s last match away at Bielefeld. He served the first of his two-match suspension.
It was Hannes Wolf’s side who made the stronger start to proceedings at the Ruhrstadion. Khaled Narey did well to get past two VfL defenders before firing a fierce effort towards the Bochum goal, however the post came to our rescue. His effort cannoned off the post and away from Riemann’s goal, an early wakeup call for VfL.
Boyed by playing in front of 26,600 supporters VfL soon started to turn on the style and looked dangerous going forward. Milos Pantovic had the first chance for Dutt’s side, as he did brilliantly to bring down a cross before firing a dangerous effort goalwards. Luckily for Julian Pollersbeck in the HSV goal he could not keep his half volley down, as it flew wide of his goal.
Despite the early start, HSV showed why they’re serious automatic promotion candidates with a brilliantly worked counter-attack. Bakery Jatta did well down the left hand side for Hamburg and whipped in a dangerous cross, however Manu Riemann did brilliantly to parry Berkay Özcan’s effort and thwart the danger. A brilliant stop from our number one and the best chance of the first half.
As the game went on VfL’s youngsters gained more and more confidence. 20-year-old Görkem Saglam and 17-year-old Stelios Kokovas linked up brilliantly to assist Milos Pantovic, although again he struggled to get his effort on target.
Robin Dutt’s side saw that the game was there for the taking and made a brighter start to the second half. Attacking the noisy VfL faithful behind the Ostkurve, Dutt’s side came closer and closer to breaking the deadlock. Bochum had a strong penalty appeal in the 65th minute as a block appeared to come off a HSV arm, however the referee waved away the protests. Amidst the chaos Tom Weilandt fired a powerful shot at the Hamburg goal, however Pollersbeck was on hand to keep his side in the game and maintain his clean sheet.
VfL’s makeshift side played with courage and passion, to the sold out crowd’s delight. Stelios Kokovas injured himself putting in a firm, but fair, challenge, with Görkem Saglam picking up a yellow card moments later with a slightly overzealous tackle. Dutt brought on Thomas Eisfeld in an effort to secure all three points, however there was no way past Pollersbeck in the Hamburg goal. The Germany U21 goalkeeper had a brilliant game and was called upon in the 82nd minute again to keep out Bochum. This time he denied Görkem Saglam, getting the finest of fingertips on the ball to send the effort past the post.
A draw looked likely, however VfL came close to stealing all three points in additional time. There were strong penalty appeals after Anthony Losilla’s effort appeared to be blocked by a hand in the Hamburg penalty area, however referee Lasse Koslowski was having nothing of it and waved away the furious protests. Potentially not the correct decision, however the introduction of VAR in the 2. Bundesliga next season will aid the referee in these position. VfL are next in action at home in just over two weeks when we face SpVgg Greuther Fürth at the Ruhrstadion on 14. April.