Spieltag 1: VFL Bochum vs FC St. Pauli
The 2017/18 season sees the start of the Olaf Janßen era at FC St. Pauli, and it started in much the same fashion as last season’s run-in. Steady as she goes then, and indeed it was remarked in YSP’s Weisse Rose how calm this off season has been at St. Pauli; a few comings and goings, and the signing of Sahin for the foreseeable future. We aren’t used to such pre-season stability.
Many credited Janßen with the turnaround in form last season, and it was easy to see why on FCSP’s first competitive outing, as we looked slick with the ball and solid without it. New signing Sammy Allagui provided a deft touch in the last third, and looked lively from the off. At the other end, the defence looked assured, even when an often sloppy Bochum attack managed to string some more accurate and incisive passes together.
FCSP started the match brightly, and could have taken the lead inside three minutes as Bernd Nehrig found himself through on goal. A placement of his shot either side of the rushing keeper and we would have been justly rewarded for our positive start. Unfortunately, it was fired straight at the keeper, who saved comfortably.
Soon after, Allagui had a shot-come-cross parried away, and the two sides went about sparring with one another as the first half drew to a close. At half-time, the game was goalless, but St. Pauli had looked the more likely to score and you felt it unlikely that Bochum would be so slapdash in the second half: would the Boys in Brick rue their failure to reward their bright start to the game?
As expected, Bochum came out strong in the second half; Himmelmann justifying his selection with some deft saves, and Kalla clearing off the line. The goal then, came as something of a sucker punch; Dælli breaking away and finding Allagui, who squared the ball to Christopher Buchtmann. The Librarian continued where he left off last season and stroked his shot into the bottom right corner of the goal, sending 4,000 travelling fans from Hamburg (and Yorkshire) into raptures.
It was almost short-lived however, as Wurtz spurned an excellent opportunity from five yards – the best they would create all game. The next 30 minutes were largely uneventful. Choi had a good effort go high and wide, and Bochum probed without ever looking likely to equalise.
Largely, this was a good performance, but drei Punkte are always more important. Allagui looked like he will settle in well, and will hopefully compliment Bouhaddouz as their relationship develops. The Midfield looked steady with Buchtmann in fine form and the defence solid; showing no signs of Soren Gönther being a huge loss. In seasons gone by we would have conceded a wholly avoidable late goal, but not tonight and that bodes well.
A run out against Stoke on Monday should help blow off some more of the pre-season cobwebs before the game against Dresden a week later. For now, there is quiet optimism for the season ahead.