Darmstadt had won four of their opening six games of the 2. Bundesliga season, but they had been winless since beating Arminia Bielefeld in mid-September, a run that had seen them plummet into the bottom two before kick-off.
However in just his second start for the club, Jones fired in with just six minutes gone, and although St. Pauli were the dominant side for most of the match, Dirk Schuster’s side hung on for a precious three points, which move them back up to 16th in the table.
St. Pauli dominate to fail to respond to Jones’s strike
St. Pauli were fresh from a 3-1 win at Dynamo Dresden less than 72 hours earlier, but had to do without an injured Lasse Sobiech and Bernd Nehrig, who was ill and only fit enough for the bench. Clemens Schoppenhauer was handed a belated first start with Johannes Flum also coming in. Darmstadt’s first game of the year against 1. FC Kaiserslautern was called after the Red Devils’ boss Jeff Strasser was taken ill at half-time. They have since brought in Dong-Won Ji from FC Augsburg on loan, and he took the place of Jan Rosenthal place in the starting line-up.
St. Pauli had the first chance of the game, capitalising on a mistake by Slobodan Medojevic, with Aziz Bouhaddouz snatching the ball from him. He played through to Cenk Sahin who shot across goal and wide. Darmstadt then went down the other end, with Jones coming through the middle and shooting from outside the box. The shot kept low but it found its way through everyone, and past Robin Himmelmann, to put the Lilies into the lead.
It was the first goal in German football for the player brought in from Seattle Sounders. However having seen his debut cut short by the unfortunate circumstances on Wednesday, he didn’t make it to 45 minutes here as he was forced off by injury – not before though being yellow-carded for coming back onto the pitch following treatment without the referee’s permission.
Despite the early set back, the hosts would go on to boss the play in the first half. Bouhaddouz, without a goal all season, and Jermey Dudziak combined soon after, with the former’s shot saved by Daniel Heuer Fernandes with his feet. Luca Zander then from a tight angle forced the ball in off Romain Brégerie, albeit only after the flag went up. Replays show it was, at best, a very close call.
They remained on top up until the break, with the visitors not register any shots apart from the goal. Sami Allagui had a couple of efforts saved from Heuer Fernandes, whilst in the closing stages of the half, the Darmstadt goalkeeper punched the ball into the path of Clemens Schoppenhauer. Sensing a chance he struck towards goal, but Aytac Sulu got down to head the ball away from goal.
The equaliser never comes as Darmstadt hang on
It took a little while for the second half to really get going, although Sulu survived appeals for what would have been a harsh handball as he slipped in the Darmstadt box. Allagui then came close to scoring twice. A cross from Bouhaddouz didn’t quite get to him as Fabian Holland intercepted, but no-one denied him the chance to head on goal soon after, only for Heuer Fernandes to save and Sulu to clear.
Having survived that, Darmstadt finally began to offer something going forward themselves as they looked to extend their lead. A corner took a deflection off Allagui allowed Peter Niemeyer a chance to shoot, with Himmelmann saving from point blank range. They threatened from set pieces too, with substitute Rosenthal going wide following a corner and Sulu heading wide from a free-kick.
St. Pauli, who had brought on Dimitris Diamantakos for his debut and Richard Neudecker, a scorer on Thursday night, appeared to be becoming more desperate as they tried to force an equaliser. Neudecker in fact came close to scoring again, after he headed towards goal from a Waldemar Sobota cross, but it was an excellent save from Heuer Fernandes to tip the ball over the bar.
It was beginning to look like the equaliser would never come. Dudziak shot over after finding some space, whilst a Bouhaddouz header from a corner was easily saved by Heuer Fernandes. Darmstadt had chances to make sure of the win too, with Tobias Kempe and Medojevic shots both off target, but in the end they hung on for three points earned with their backs to the wall. Meanwhile it was a first loss, and a frustrating one at that, for St. Pauli under Markus Kauczinski.