Karlsruher SC earned a hard-fought 2-0 victory away to Bernd Hollerbach's Würzburger Kickers on Friday night at the FlyerAlarm Arena in Franconia. With a goal in either half, die KSC had been dominant throughout.
In what proved to be a real lackluster first half, Moritz Stoppelkamp has given Tomas Oral's side an early lead after his strike was deflected by Sebastian Neumann. Despite Hollerbach's early substitutions and a delay due to floodlight failure, Karlsruhe remained on top and got their second half way through the second period - as Dennis Kempe swept home after pinball in the box.
The result takes Karlsruhe away from the relegation zone and a first away victory of the season, whilst die Rothosen slump to a second home defeat of the season.
Stoppelkamp takes the headlines in lackluster first half
Before the game, it was high-flying Würzburger Kickers who were the clear favourites for the game. Since the departure of former manager Markus Kauczinski over the summer to FC Ingolstadt 04, Karlsruher SC have struggled under the tutelage of Tomas Oral and sit alarmingly close to the relegation places.
However, in the early stages of the game the form book was clearly being torn up. Die KSC, Karlsruhe, were dominating the proceedings and managed to take an early lead at the FlyerAlarm Arena. Summer signing Moritz Stoppelkamp received the ball in a wide right position. The former SC Paderborn man cut inside and sent a right footed effort towards Kicker's goalkeeper, Robert Wulnikowski; the ball appeared to take a deflection off Sebastian Neumann, wrong footing Wulnikowski and into the far corner of the goal.
That was Stoppelkamp's second goal in four games since his summer switch to the Wildsparkstadion. With Bundesliga experience, Oral will be hoping the now 29 year old can spur Karlsruhe up the table after their poor start.
It was a half of limited chances. On most occasions it was the final ball, that was the let down for both sides. Stoppelkamp, despite his goal, was the key proponent of this; he had the opportunity to square for an un-marked Erwin Hoffer, but his ball was poor and allowed Clemens Schoppenbauer to clear.
Karlsruhe push home their advantage in the second period
One of the key aspects of Bernd Hollerbach's sides good start to the season has been their strong home record. With only one defeat on home soil against Union Berlin, the newly promoted side have risen within places of the promotion spots. Yet on Friday evening, die Rothosen had been very poor throughout the first half. In a bid to change their fortunes, Hollerbach left no stone un-turned at half time and made an early change - Valdet Rama made way for Dániel Nagy.
The second half was delayed for around ten minutes, after floodlight failure around the FlyerAlarm Arena. This, matched with the earlier substitution, seemed to give Würzburger the impetus to search for an equaliser. Nejmeddin Daghfous nearly drew them level, and what an equaliser it would have been, as the Hessen native thundered a 35 yard free kick just inches wide of Dirk Orlishausen's top left corner.
That being said, on the counter-attack Karlsruher SC were a constant threat. Hoffer reminded the home side of this and nearly teed up Stoppelkamp for a second, but Tobias Schröck was able to intercept the midfielders effort from close range. The Austrian striker himself had a good chance, but his un-marked shot from the edge of the box was easy for Wulnikowski - perhaps an indicator why the former Eintracht Frankfurt and Fortuna Düsseldorf man has only one goal all season.
Despite their promising start to the half, the longer it had gone on the more die KSC were on top and although they had been wasteful with their attack so far in the second period; eventually they would make one pay and seemingly put the game to bed. Following a Stoppelkamp corner, the ball fell neatly to Hiroki Yamada to hit - the Japanese miscued his shot, but in the melée that followed in the box, Dennis Kempe was quickest to react and swept the ball in with his left foot.
Daghfous once again tried the spectacular on two occasions, to attempt to bring his side back into the game; but on both occasions his long range efforts were off target, much to the dismay of Hollerbach and the FlyerAlarm Arena faithful. Scoring is usually one of the more difficult tasks for promoted sides, but die Rothosen up until now have evaded that plague. Yet if this evening's display is anything to judge by, they may be falling into that trap. Orlishausen didn't have to make a meaningful save throughout the entire match.