DAVID SMITH - Thursday, March 10, 2011
Matt Taylor and Ahlen got a much-needed win in 3. Liga makeup action, with the American playing the full 90 minutes as a pair of second-half goals assured the full three points for the hosts.
Rot Weiss still had the taste of failure in their mouths after blowing a seemingly secure 3-1 lead three days before to end up settle for a draw in Jena, and were beginning to once again find themselves in a desperate situation with the relegation zone fast approaching.
Taking a point against the division's ninth-place team was the minimum necessary to give themselves a game's worth of breathing room above the drop, however a win was exactly the result which could begin a push over their final 11 games to assure their place in the 3. Liga for another season.
The first half was a stale encounter thanks to uninspired play from both teams, with the biggest moment of excitement for the home fans coming shortly before the break when Sebastian Hille volleyed the ball into Stuttgart's side netting.
Ahlen coach Arie van Lent made a pair of adjustments at halftime, bringing in attackers Sebastian Ghasemi-Nobakht and Björn Kluft, a decision which ultimately turned the game in his favor.
The hosts slowly began to turn the game in their favor and finally went ahead in the 71st minute. Ghasemi-Nobakht dribbled through the heart of the Stuttgart midfield and launched a shot from just outside the penalty area, which flew past the stunned keeper Bernd Leno.
The game was in Ahlen's hands for the remainder, and they added an insurance goal seven minutes later, after Manuel Eckel fed Björn Kluft at a tight angle for his blast into the net.
Taylor nearly netted his 13th goal of the campaign with five minutes left, however Leno made a clutch save to deny the American. It was of little consolation, however, with Ahlen easily cruising to the final 2-0 win.
With the last of their bad-weather makeup games now played, Ahlen find themselves in 14th place on 30 points, with a five-point cushion out of the drop zone. They have a four-day break before their next game, a Saturday afternoon home encounter against eighth-place Heidenheim.