The venue on Wednesday evening was the Benteler Arena in Paderborn, as Verl’s traditional home at the Sportclub Arena was deemed to be unsuitable by the German football authorities. With that in mind, the territory was foreign for both sets of players and it showed in the early stages. Verl’s Mikic found himself behind Dennis Eckert-Ayensa and when the 28-year-old defender hauled down the Schanzer forward on the edge of the penalty area, referee Patrick Glaser judged the sin to be cardinal and issued a red card.
After such a disastrous start to the match, one could have forgiven Verl for retreating into their metaphorical shell. Yet, in the face of adversity, the North-Rhine Westphalian side continued to give as good as they had and even produced the evening’s first real moment of quality. Justin Eilers displayed the technical ability one would expect from a former Werder Bremen attacker and forced Fabijan Buntic into a smart stop following a driven effort from the right-hand side of the penalty area.
The longer the half went on, however, the more the Schanzer came to dominate the play. Marc Stendera found Stefan Kutschke on the edge of the penalty area, but the man who has hit three goals in his last two matches was unable to continue his red-hot form as the ball slammed against the aluminium. When the Black-Reds were able to find the target with their attempts on goal, Verl’s Robin Brüseke was an equal. This included Ilmari Niskanen’s point-blank effort after Michael Heinloth’s accurate delivery from the right back position.
Capretti’s men had done their utmost to frustrate Ingolstadt for the majority of the first half, but Verl’s resistance collapsed at the beginning of the second. Truth be told, it came with a slice of fortune as Dominik Franke’s effort deflected off Filip Bilbija and squirmed into the back of the goal. Tomas Oral and Ingolstadt, however, will not have cared about the manner of the opener, the end result was still the same – Bilbija had his second of the season and the Black-Reds had their lead.
Although the Schanzer had broken the deadlock, the match at the Benteler Arena was still a largely even affair. Both sides traded promising efforts; Kutschke’s dangerous cross was deflected away for a corner, whilst Yildirim’s low shot was easily saved by Buntic. Verl felt they should have had a penalty when Tobias Schröck’s headed clearance appeared to strike against the defender’s arm, but the referee was not entertained by the protests and continued with the play.
Ingolstadt had the potential to reclaim second position from Hansa Rostock should they pick up all three points. With that in mind, it was perhaps disappointing that the Black-Reds had not made more of their man advantage. Indeed, with a little over ten minutes remaining, the Schanzer were punished for their lethargy. Yildirim went one better than his previous effort and after expertly controlling a lofted ball, the 25-year-old lobbed the ball over a stranded Buntic. It had taken a moment of magic, but the ten men of Verl were level.
With the metaphoric foot well and truly placed over the banana peel, Oral sent the kitchen sink and more at the Verl goal in the closing stages. Second half substitute Fatih Kaya was the focal point and nearly took the ball around Brüseke after Caiuby’s accurate pass and when a potential shot did present itself to the young Ingolstadt attacker, the woodwork once again stifled the Schanzer as Kaya’s effort slammed against the upright.
Kaya’s last-gasp denial by the post was perhaps indicative of the Schanzer’s entire evening in Paderborn. Oral’s men had performed well-enough for the majority of the match, but they had fallen short when it came to the fine margins and ultimately it was that failure that provided Verl an opportunity to strike back. With Rostock now occupying second position in their own right, the Black-Reds have work to do in their quest for promotion back to the 2. Bundesliga.
SC Verl: Brüseke – Choroba (Lannert, 56’), Mikic (Red Card, 3’), Langesberg, Ritzka – Kurt (Janjic, 74’), Corboz, Köhler – Putaro (Yildirim, 56’), Eilers (Sander, 46’), Rabihic (Jürgensen, 10’).
FC Ingolstadt 04: Buntic – Heinloth, Schröck, Keller, Franke – Kotzke (Gaus, 90+2’), Stendera – Niskanen (Elva, 65’), Bilbija (Preißinger, 85’) – Kutschke (Caiuby, 65’), Eckert-Ayensa (Kaya, 65’).
Goals: 0-1 (Bilbija, 48’), 1-1 (Yildirim, 76’).