What looked a tough and even game on paper between Sandhausen and Braunschweig was just that. It was heading towards a dull draw when Nik Omladic took charge of a dead-ball situation and dispatched the ball into the bottom left corner to revive the Lions' slim promotion hopes.
Currently on a five game unbeaten run, their best ever in the 2. Bundesliga, Sandhausen were looking to go level with the Lions and build upon their 2-3 win over 1860 München last weekend. Unsurprisingly, Alois Schwartz opted for an almost unchanged eleven from that which was triumphant in the Allianz Arena. The only change he made was forced upon him and Kevin Kratz came in for the injured Stefan Kulovits.
Torsten Lieberknecht and his side were in a contrasting vein of form to Sandhausen, having not won since the end of the winter break. He was dealt a blow by losing Marcel Correia to injury before the game, the Portuguese defender was by Vegar Hedenstad. While Damir Vrancic, Jan Hochscheidt and Emil Berggreen had their starting slots taken by Maximilian Sauer, Hendrick Zuck and Ryu Seung-Woo.
Things almost got even worse for Braunschweig within the first minute. Nicky Adler raced onto a long through-ball, his chip got past the oncoming Rafael Ginkiewicz but it was knocked clear by Saulo Decarli.
The visitors were struggling to get going and it wasn't until the fifteenth minute that they forayed forward. A flowing move found Nik Omladic, although the Slovenian fired straight at Manuel Riemann and the Sandhausen stopper comfortably held his shot.
Stefan Linsmayer was next to try his hand at opening the scoring but Ginkiewicz produced a fine stop from the stand-in captain's twenty-yard drive. The midfield battle continued to be the main feature of the game and despite some good openings, neither side could make them count.
There was one moment of controversy at the of the half when Ryu went down under Riemann's challenge. The South Korean appealed for a penalty but Christian Dietz booked him for diving, replays showed he made an excellent call and both teams went in level at the break.
Yellow cards were slowly overtaking the number of chances in the game, as it drifted towards a more niggly and gritty game. Berggreen and Hochscheidt were brought on to try and spark the Lions' attack into life although there was no immediate reaction.
It was clear something special would be required to break the dead lock and Omladic proved just that. Braunschweig's January signing stepped up to the free-kick and dispatched it into the bottom left corner, leaving Riemann with no chance and sending the visiting support wild.
There were to be no more chances in the game, as Braunschweig held on to get an invaluable win and end Sandhausen's unbeaten streak. They move fifth and cling on to feint hopes of a promotion place, with a game against table-topping FC Insgolstadt to look forward to next weekend.
Sandhausen will be disheartened after falling short in such a tight game, though they remain comfortable in mid-table and face FSV Frankfurt next Saturday.