DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Conor O'Brien and Neustadt finally fought their way into the win column while Shawn Barry and first-place Linz were unable to break down Kapfenberg.
SC Wiener Neustadt 2 - 0 Wolfsberger AC
Conor O'Brien's late penalty was the icing on the cake for Neustadt, as they once again tormented Wolfsberger AC in a shut-out home win.
Neustadt were on a solid downward trajectory heading into the game, with a long winless streak seeing them fall farther and farther into the league's cellar.
While they were unable to push through against the league's surprise second-place squad through the first half, they found the magic they had been lacking to prove their dominance after the break.
Former RB Salzburg striker Stefan Maierhofer marked his debut with Neustadt in style, connecting on a fine set-up from Osman Ali in the 47th minute with his back heel to put the team ahead.
He was close to doubling the lead just past the hour with a header that missed by inches, but Neustadt nevertheless secured the victory in the 74th, Conor O'Brien put them 2-0 ahead with a cool finish from the spot following a penalty call on the visitors.
Wolfsberger never really threatened to ruin the afternoon for the remaining minutes, remarkably suffering their second loss this season to their last-place opponents.
While still occupying the Bundesliga's lone relegation place, Neustadt are now just three points behind Wacker with three games left before the winter break.
They face a tough follow-up on Saturday, as they must travel to take on Rapid Vienna.
LASK Linz 0 - 0 Kapfenberger SV
Shawn Barry and Linz kept Kapfenberger from posing any real threat, however were unable to break through themselves to be resigned to a scoreless draw on Friday.
While having several great chances and close calls throughout the first half, including a possible handball by a Kapfenberg defender in the area go unpunished, Linz lacked the flare and luck to take the lead.
They were handed a golden opportunity with 17 minutes in regulation when Kapfenberg's Harun Erbek was shown a straight red for a rough tackle, although it was without avail as their visitors scrounged their wits together to hold on for the draw.
Linz still top the Erste Liga standings, with their 38 points giving them a three-point lead over second-place Mattersburg.
They return to action on Friday with a trip to last-place TSV Hartberg, their final contest before the winter break.
Keith Cardona was not in uniform on Friday as Liefering suffered an embarrassing 3-1 defeat at the hands of last-place TSV Hartberg.