This was going to be a tough challenge for Heidenheim, their guests were in fine form going into the game and the hosts have never beaten Braunschweig, four losses and one draw. Heidenheim came into the game looking to bounce back from their defeat to FSV Frankfurt in midweek, while Braunschweig were looking to make it two wins in a row after beating Fortuna Düsseldorf.
Straight from kick off Heidenheim almost grabbed the first goal of the game. Impressively Florian Niederlechner charged towards goal and his effort under pressure saw Rafal Gikiewicz reacted well to get down low and flick the shot just wide.
The game was very lively and was being played with a great tempo, unfortunately there wasn’t a great deal of chances in the opening thirty minutes. Marcel Titsch-Rivero tried his luck from twenty-five yards out just before the half hour mark and Gikiewicz gratefully held the shot in his arms. Heidenheim were having plenty of possession in the first half, when they lost the ball they were able to pressure Braunschweig well and their visitors struggled to get Håvard Nielsen and Mushagalusa Bakenga involved as the final balls lacked the quality they needed.
Heidenheim came close to making the most of the dominance towards the end of the first half, a lovely cross in from Marc Schnatterer picked out Niederlechner and the striker struck the post with a decent header. Straight away Braunschweig quickly reacted to hit Heidenheim on the break and could’ve scored themselves. Bakenga was running towards goal and laid the ball off to the free Hendrick Zuck, who should’ve done better, despite his effort being at a tough height for Felix Körber it was straight at him.
The away side would’ve been the happier of the two teams going into the break. The hosts were the better side and they had a few great chances to take the lead. Braunschweig needed to improve in attack of they were to win this game.
Braunschweig were indeed much better going forward after the break and they were gifted a goal on the hour mark. Seung-Woo Ryu came off the bench and a minute later he was on the score sheet, an speculative cross into the area from Benjamin Kessel went straight to Körber, unfortunately for the keeper it took bounce and struck his chest, gifting Ryu the chance to tap in.
Heidenheim almost had the perfect response, Schnatterer burst forward resulted in him shooting from outside the area, the effort like the goal bounced off the surface, Gikiewicz like Körber failed to keep hold off the shot, however a defender was there to clear the danger. The hosts came close shortly after as a freekick was delivered into the area and was poorly headed down to Tim Göhlert, his left footed shot saw Gikiewicz make another impressive save as he quickly reacted to palm the shot away from danger.
Heidenheim pushed and pushed for an equaliser, however they struggled to break down the Braunschweig defence, who were defending valiantly. The closest they came was towards the end of the game, a long freekick out from Schnatterer almost caught out Gikiewicz and the Polish keeper had to flick the ball over for a corner.
The hosts will be disappointed with losing this one, they had more of possession and they had the chances to win this one. Credit to Braunschweig they improved in the second half and once they got their goal they defended very well, they’ll be thanking their man in the sticks tonight, Gikiewicz was the difference in this game, the Polish keeper pulled off save after save.
The winter break is now here for these two sides and Heidenheim will be hoping to get their season back on track, they made an impressive start to life in the 2.Bundesliga, however they’ve now failed to win in their last five games. Braunschweig continue their terrific form and they’ll hope they can continue it after the break, they go into the break with just one loss in ten 2.Bundesliga games. Heidenheim will be in 9th place for the winter break, Braunschweig are currently in 3rd place until others play tomorrow and Sunday. Heidenheim’s first game back in February is against 1860 Munich, while Braunschweig will host Kaiserslautern.
Article for VAVEL.