1. FC Heidenheim 1-0 Erzgebirge Aue: Thomalla strike the difference in tight encounter

The striker who's joined permanently from Lech Poznan made all the difference for the home side, but the Violas will wondering if they could have got something from this.

1. FC Heidenheim 1-0 Erzgebirge Aue: Thomalla strike the difference in tight encounter
Photo: Bundesliga
1. FC Heidenheim
1 0
Erzgebirge Aue
1. FC Heidenheim: (4-4-2) Müller, Kraus, Wittek, Strauß, Feick, Skarke (Rasner 57'), Griesbeck, Titsch-Rivero, Schnatterer (Halloran 79'), Kleindienst (Atanga 60'), Thomalla
Erzgebirge Aue: (4-2-3-1) Männel, Rizzuto, Breitkreuz, Riedel, Hertner, Tiffert, Riese (Toshev 78'), Adler (Kaufmann 75'), Kvesic, Soukou (Nazarov 71'), Köpke
SCORE: 1-0, Thomalla 42'.
REFEREE: Guido Winkmann (GER). Booked: Rasner (87')
INCIDENTS: Attendance: 11,000

1. FC Heidenheim got their 2. Bundesliga campaign off to a winning start by beating Erzgebirge Aue in a low-key encounter at the Voith-Arena.

Denis Thomalla scored the only goal just before half-time on a sunny afternoon in South-West Germany, although Aue will feel they could have got something out of this game.

Croatian midfielder Mario Kvesić had three good chances to score their first goal back in the 2. Bundesliga, being denied by both the woodwork and Heidenheim keeper Kevin Müller.

But despite finishing with three strikers on the field, they couldn’t find a way through, and the hosts well celebrating their first three points of the season.

Déjà vu for Aue

For Aue this was their first game back in the second tier after a year away. They finished second in the 3. Liga last season, behind Dynamo Dresden, following relegation from the second tier in 2014-15.

Although the two met in the DFB-Pokal last season, with Heidenheim winning 2-0, Aue’s final match at this level was strangely enough this very same fixture, with the 2-2 draw that afternoon not enough to keep the Violas up.

Simon Skarlatidis was forced out of the starting line-up after an injury in the warm-up. | Photo: MOPO24
Simon Skarlatidis was forced out of the starting line-up after an injury in the warm-up. | Photo: MOPO24

Goalkeeper and captain for Aue, Martin Männel, turned unlikely goalscorer in that encounter fifteen months ago, was one of two survivors for them, the other being Sebastian Hertner.

They were forced into a late change to their starting line-up, with Simon Skarlatidis injured in the warm up, meaning Nicky Adler had to come in off the bench.

Otherwise, manager Pavel Dotchev decided against naming any of the club's new signings in the starting line-up, the only exception being Pascal Köpke who has made his loan move from Karlsruher SC last season permanent.

For Heidenheim, five players that started the last league meeting were in the eleven named here. They also included new loan signing Tim Kleindienst up front, with Thomalla also starting after making his move from Polish side Lech Poznan permanent.

Long throw decisive in low-key half

Anyone hoping for thriller would have been left bitterly disappointed by the opening exchanges, with few incidents of note. Both keepers were required to make saves – Müller from Adler and Männel from Thomalla. Otherwise the only other attempt was a Mathias Wittek header which sailed over the bar.

Just before the half-hour though Aue came mightily close to breaking the stalemate. Kvesić, who scored four league goals last season for them, struck low from outside the box, and was only kept out by the post. Wittek made a vital interception to stop Köpke from reaching the rebound.

He then had another superb chance to give the team from Saxony the lead. Played through on goal by Köpke, his shot was saved by Müller, with Köpke’s poor first touch denying him the chance again from the rebound.

But despite creating the best two chances, they went in behind at the break. Having failed to defend a long throw from Marc Schnatterer, Tim Starke’s initial shot was blocked by Thomalla, who scored four goals in 13 apperances in the second half of last season, then fired it into the back of the net to give the hosts the lead.

Heidenheim celebrate what proved to be the only goal | Photo: MDR/Picture Point
Heidenheim celebrate what proved to be the only goal | Photo: MDR/Picture Point

Heidenheim unable to extend their advantage

The second half was if anything even less full of incident. Again it was Aue who had the better chances as they went hunting for an equaliser. Adler’s long range effort didn’t come close, but Kvesić proved a threat in front of goal once more, with a shot from a tight angle caught by Muller.

At the other end they defended superbly, given Heidenheim barely a sniff at goal, with Männel having virtually nothing to do. However their problem last season was a lack of goals, and so it was proving here.

And so Dotchev brought on two new strikers as the half wore on, with former Karlsruhe striker Dimitrij Nazarov and Martin Toshev appearing for the debuts. But neither of them could make an impact, whilst Köpke’s only effort late on was well off the mark.

Substitute Ben Haolloran had a couple of chances to extend the lead late on, but both were saved Männel, as was a strike in stoppage time from Marcel Titsch-Rivero.

However the home fans, in full voice throughout, will be very satisfied with the three points. Aue showed they will be tough to breakdown, yet in the end it was enough to get anything from this game.