Saturday, 16 February 2013

Superman Nemec rescues point for Union

To say Union were not as good as they were on Monday night would be akin to saying it was quite a big bang in the Russian sky this week. Nemec eventually found the Kryptonite in a game where Union players could not find their feet - nor each other. 

Superman Nemec poster in today's programme
The game was a catalogue of errors; players slipping at inopportune moments, the referee not giving the most blatant of penalties, Mattuschka having an off-day and a cheeky penalty attempt gone horribly wrong. Most of what I have described happened from the 85th minute onward. The previous minutes - aside from the Haas challenge that was more brick house than stonewall penalty - were forgettable. So much so, I've had to write this at 16:00 on a match day. By Sunday the game will be a mere footnote in a season where Union will perhaps rue their sluggish start.

The hangover that was feared after the exertions of the Berlin derby was realised inside the first minute. A routine cross was whipped across the face of the visitors goal. Union should have scored. On another day, perhaps they would have been sharper, perhaps they would have been one up and able to grind Ingolstadt into submission. As it was, the crowd were ground into submission with a display that wreaked off the morning after the night before.

Two of us in the group were close to losing our voices and we were carried by those around us. Trying to sing the odd song but struggling. The players mirrored our physical state, regularly falling over on the slippery surface and unable to create many clear-cut chances. 

Before half-time the referee inexplicably waved play on after what seemed a certain foul by the Union goalkeeper. The Ingolstadt player was rounding Haas and his leg connected with the keepers outstretched leg. As the Ingolstadt players chased the referee up the pitch, Haas appeared to apologise to the victim of the injustice. After the touch of an elephant it was pleasing to see the sportsman's touch.

'They can play to midnight and they won't score,' I quipped, as Union went on the front foot, attempting to get the ball into the oppositions third of the pitch. They were a goal down after some neat interplay in the box from the team who started the day in 10th spot. The goal was not undeserved and was by no means against the run of play. Ingolstadt had a strange strategy of pressing quickly when Union were on the ball yet taking the sting out of the game with every goal-kick, free-kick or throw-in. They have only lost twice on the road for a reason.

Quirring was one of the two substitutes that Neuhaus introduced in the second half to change the game. It was down his right flank that Union tried to press. A ball was floated into Nemec and he scored another header. It was Union's turn to snatch the draw five minutes from time. We celebrated as if we'd won. Superman to the rescue. Fitting.

Union had had a couple of half-hearted penalty appeals turned down. In the 90th minute the referee spotted an infringement in the box. He pointed to the spot, no doubt aware of his first half error. Union were furious, a yellow card was given for a bizarre act of a player running up to the ball on the spot and ranting at it (apparently he spat on the ball ha ha). The Ingolstadt player stepped up; as cool as Clarke Kent. However, he was no Superman. He chipped the ball, it struck the bar and the game was up. A point saved. The referee left the field to an enraged home support. Today, it was certainly a case of a point saved, rather than two points dropped.  

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