Club action returns and this friday in Germany it’s 2.Bundesliga night, with no late evening Bundesliga games Kaiserslautern vs Darmstadt takes that spot. One of the earlier games saw Heidenheim hosting Sandhausen, the last three meetings between these two have finished 2-1 to Heidenheim and this the first competitive meeting between the two since 2011/12 season. Heidenheim doing the double over Sandhausen was impressive considering Sandhausen finished top of the 3.Liga that year.Heidenheim would’ve felt confident going into this game as they have a fantastic home record, they haven’t been beaten all season at home, seven games unbeaten in the league at home and eight in all competitions.
Heidenheim have performed well above everyone’s expectations so far this season and currently sit in 5th place. Going into the international break they bounced back from two straight defeats with a draw against in-form Darmstadt and a win against struggling St. Pauli. Sandhausen are at the lower end of the table, however before the break they managed to move up the table and into 12th place with a win over Nürnberg and two draws. As previously mentioned Heidenheim are very good at home and that will worry Sandhausen as they haven’t travelled well this season, they’ve won just once away from home and that was against Aalen.
The home side got down to business quickly and they came close when Philip Heise’s cross from the left struck a defender before being hooked back into the box to find Florian Niederlechner, the striker was able to hold off Daniel Schulz before turning him and putting his shot into the side netting as he fell off balance. Shortly after that chance Heidenheim were able to get in front, Niederlechner charged into the box, after being tackled the ball then fell to Robert Leipertz and he’s shot was blocked by Seyi Olajengbesi and into the path of Marc Schnatterer, after taking a touch he calmly slotted past Marco Knaller.
Sandhausen had a promising attack when Manuel Stiefler flicked the ball over a defender and linked up with Alexander Bieler, unfortunately the moved broke down and eventually Leart Paqarada picked up the ball and from long range his effort flashed across goal and just wide.
Despite having a good passage of play Sandhausen almost conceded a second after poorly defending a long freekick, the poor delivery somehow found it’s way into the area and after the visitors failed to clear well Heidenheim managed to get the ball back into the box and Knaller was forced into a good save.
Heidenheim almost doubled their lead when a quick attack saw Julius Reinhardt produce an effort from range, he struck the effort sweetly and it looked to be going in, but Knaller was able to get across to match the effort and palm it out for a corner.
Sandhausen had a golden chance when René Gartler played in Stiefler, he then managed to pick out Andrew Wooten inside the area, after his touch the chance had gone and his shot was deflected out for a corner.
Heidenheim continued to push for another goal and it was the goalscorer Schnatterer that came close to getting another. Smail Morabit played a lovely diagonal ball over to Schnatterer and clearly high on confidence he tried to volley past Knaller, sadly he fired wide, had it gone in it would’ve been a special goal.
Heidenheim took a deserved lead into the break and Sandhausen needed to transform massively to comeback and get the win. Heidenheim continued from where they left off and after scoring early in the first half, they decided to score an even earlier goal in the second half. Robert Strauss whipped in a terrific cross from the right, Niederlechner met the great delivery to head back across goal for Leipertz to nod in.
Knaller was certainly the busiest keeper and had it not been for him, Sandhausen may have conceded far more than they did. One of his best saves in the game saw him deny Leipertz, the midfielder charged forward and after being invited to shoot, he took it and Knaller was able to match the effort and save to his right. Heidenheim came even closer soon after, after a few shoots were blocked the ball fell to Morabit and his optimistic overhead kick flew just wide of the post.
Heidenheim finally got a third to wrap up the three points, just after the hour mark Leipertz did well to block a clearance on the halfway line from Paqarada and Niederlechner pounced onto the loose ball to cut inside past Olajengbesi and fire into the bottom corner.
Things almost got worse for Sandhausen when the ball bounced past a defender and allowed Schnatterer through on goal, Knaller did well to force him wide, however Schnatterer pulled the ball back to Niederlechner, who’s effort struck the post.
Things went according to plan for Heidenheim, another home victory keeps their unbeaten home record intact, while Sandhausen struggled in most parts of the game and their poor away form continues, some attacking work may be in order after they only managed one shot on target. Up next for Heidenheim they have another Friday night match as they travel to Greuther Fürth, Sandhausen have a Sunday lunch time game against RB Leipzig as things don’t get any easier for them.
Article for VAVEL.