Bend it like Kellond-Knight
Top of the tree and with something to prove, Potsdam started on the offensive, forcing Essen back and refusing to give them title to settle but a swift break five minutes in saw Lea Schüller send a curler just behind Lisa Schmitz’s bar. Responding in kind, the hosts saw fine chance go to waste seconds later as Tabea Kemme nodded Eseosa Aigbogun’s cross just wide of Lisa Weiß’s upright.
The game tipped on its’s head when Vanessa Martini made a clumsy tackle on Huth, just on the edge of the box, the defender nowhere near the ball and left to scythe the advancing attacker down. Susann Kunkel immediately reached for her red to dismiss the young defender and made the job for the travelling team that bit harder with barely ten minutes played. The molehill becoming a mountain for Essen when Kellond-Knight stepped up to take the free kick, with barely enough room to get the ball up and around the wall the Matilda sent a delicious curler beyond the wall and round into the far top corner. A double-whammy for the visitors.
Potsdam began once more to attack freely, the away defence stretched as it struggled to deal with the attacking prowess of Kemme, Aigbogun and Huth; Weiß alert to deal with the onslaught. The hosts came close to doubling their advantage ten minutes later at another Kellond-Knight free kick, this one hooked into the box, Inka Wesely first to it but the defender couldn’t get a foot on the ball and was forced to chase it as it rebounded off of her thigh. Wesely only kept out by a diving Ina Lehmann, the captain throwing her body on the line to block the shot from two yards.
Essen make a match of it
It wasn’t all one-way traffic, however, and the visitors looked sharp on the counter, not accepting their fate, Schmitz kept busy as Essen looked to restore parity. Once more the hosts came close as Huth got goal-side of her marker, barely given an inch of space, Huth took aim with Weiß coming out, the forward went for the bottom corner on the stretch, the ball bouncing off of the post and into Weiß’s waiting arms.
From one end to the other as Essen once again broke, Manjou Wilde’s effort more than enough to beat Schmitz but the visitors denied their equaliser as Kellond-Knighted cleared off of the line. For the rest of the half, Essen played like a team possessed, looking more like any away team than one reduced to ten, they made the hosts work until half-time, 1-0 looking perilously thin.
Another fast start from Potsdam almost yielded results as Laura Lindner’s deep cross drifted towards the back post with everyone pulled towards the near but with no one in blue arriving the defence was able to clear the danger. Again the visitors grew into the half. Both sides were willing to throw everything they had at the other, three huge points on stake between first and second in the AFBL, Essen refused to sink even with the numerical disadvantage.
A carelessly short backpass from Johanna Elsig saw Irini Ioannidou nip in and steal the ball away, a bad first touch enough to let Schmitz grab the offending object before Ioannidou could capitalise. As it had been all game, one good chance for one team was followed by one for their opposition. A lofted corner kept Weiß on her toes, the keeper just about kept the ball out but could only ping it back into the six-yard box before plucking the ball out of the air as Charline Hartmann headed it back goalwards.
Huth seals it
Weiß’s hard work undone moments later when Bianca Schmidt’s through ball found Huth as the attacker slipped between the backline, having already scuffed earlier chances Huth remained composed as she fired low past the keeper and into the bottom corner.
With the game arguably out of reach for an Essen team that had looked just short of scoring, lacking a cutting edge up top, the last fifteen minutes became strappy. Cards were handed out like it was Christmas, the fouls getting cheaper as both Matthias Rudolph and Markus Högner went to their respective benches, fresh legs only slowing the match down.
Put on the back foot from the tenth minute, Essen did well to stay in the match for as long as they did, taking the game to the hosts time after time, consistently working Schmitz and her defence the visitors proved why they started the week second in the fiercely competitive league. For the fifth league game running, Potsdam impressed, the only team unbeaten so far this season, they have fully earnt their spot on top of the tree and the respect that goes with it although sterner tests await later this year.