Darmstadt could have escaped the bottom three with a win but despite being the better side they trailed at the break to a Brendon Borrello goal.
Phillipp Mwene added a second after half-time for the Red Devils, and although Felix Platte gave Darmstadt a lifeline in stoppage time, Kaiserslautern hung on to move within a point of their hosts.
Darmstadt dominate but Borrello strikes first
This game was originally abandoned after the then-Kaiserslautern coach Jeff Strasser suffered a major heart scare – although not a cardiac arrest as initially feared – at half-time, with the score at 0-0. He has since been replaced, rather cruelly under the circumstances, by Michael Frontzeck. He though has led them to two wins and a defeat, although they remained bottom of the 2. Bundesliga with Darmstadt just above them before kick-off.
From that one defeat against SV Sandhausen at the weekend, they made three changes, with Benjamin Kessel, Christoph Moritz and Sebastian Andersson coming in for Marcel Correla, Ruben Jenssen and Lukas Spalvis. As for Dirk Schuster’s Darmstadt, the only change from their 2-0 defeat to Arminia Bielefeld saw Markus Steinhöfer come in for suspended captain Aytac Sulu.
The hosts had the first chance, with Joevin Jones passed to Fabian Holland whose shot was kept out by Marius Müller, however the Red Devils would take the lead with just over 15 minutes gone. Benjamin Kessel had a chance blocked but, getting the ball back, he found Borrello instead. He took a moment to get into position, before striking the ball between Daniel Heuer Fernandes and the post.
The Lilies were by far the better side in the half however. Although Artur Sobiech’s attempt to claim a penalty was rather pitiful, soon after he had back-to-back efforts saved by Müller, with a strike parried and then a header taken by the Kaiserslautern goalkeeper. Dong-Won Ji then struck wide, whilst a little later in the half, a Tobias Kempe corner was headed clear by Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker straight to Yannick Stark. His volley was bound for goal, only to be denied excellently by Müller, who put the ball out.
Their keeper was keeping Kaiserslautern’s lead intact, with little to worry Heuer Fernandes at the other end. Nils Seufert and Leon Guwara shots were both well off target, however a second attempt from Seufert did need keeping out by Heuer Fernades. That though came after a run forward from Kessel, who was seemingly fouled on the corner of the box by Holland, however Bibiana Steinhaus played an advantage with no card forthcoming for Holland.
Platte consolation too little, too late
Both sides struggled to get going at the start of the second half, although Osayamen Osawe threatened to bring the game to lift with a charge down the left, only to be the ball over the bar as he looked to play it into the middle. From the same wing a couple of minutes of later however, Andersson put in a far more dangerous cross, finding Mwene, who placed his shot perfectly past Heuer Fernandes to double his side’s lead.
Mwene, playing further forward than usual in this game, then could have added a third. Borrello found him, however this time the shot was too high and smashed into the cross the bar. Kessel came close as well, heading wide following a free-kick.
Having controlled the first half, Darmstadt struggled to replicate that form in the second, with their first chance of any note falling to defensive midfielder Holland with a quarter-of-an-hour to goal. Just as in the first 45 minutes though, Müller came to Kaiserslatuern’s rescue to parry his shot away from goal. Osawe should then have won the game after an excellent turn and run, but in trying to place the ball over Heuer Fernandes, he ended up skewing his shot wide.
Nevertheless the victory looked assured, however Platte gave the home team a lifeline in the first of three scheduled added minutes. Jones cross the ball in, and although he had a tricky angle to navigate from he struck it precise enough to finally breach Müller’s goal.
A last-ditch free-kick from Kempe then met the head of Wilson Kamavuaka, with Müller saving. Kaiserslautern still had to deal with a Darmstadt corner, but from that Jones had a shot blocked, and Steinhaus blew the whistle for full-time moments afterwards to signify another important win for Kaiserslatuern.