DAVID SMITH - Monday, April 18, 2011
Luis Robles was again in the nets for Karlsruhe in Monday-night action as the team slumped to another loss to visiting Augsburg to remain firmly in the relegation fight.
Both teams were looking to add three points to their total in order to fight off challenges from below. In Augsburg's case, they were looking to expand their three-point lead on Bochum in the race for the division's second automatic promotion spot, while Karlsruhe were trying to pad their narrow two-point lead over Osnabrück who were looking to escape the relegation playoff.
Each came out of the gates with an added fire, which made for a high-tempo first-half that could have seen a number of goals scored on either side of the ball.
Karlsruhe had their first golden opportunity with 18 minutes gone by, as Macauley Chrisantus set up Timo Staffeldt with a pass from the right edge of the area, however the subsequent shot was blocked to safety by Augsburg defender Uwe Möhrle.
The hosts kept the pressure up for the following minutes, however Augsburg were the first to fight their way onto the scoreboard after Daniel Baier stormed into the 18-yard box and dropped the ball off to the wide-open Tobias Werner for a twelve-yard shot past Robles for the 28th-minute lead.
Baier nearly made it 2-0 ten minutes later when he fought his way into the danger area and looked to be in perfect position for another crack at goal, however the referee's whistle blew for a perceived offensive foul by the attacker, ending the dangerous situation for Robles and his teammates.
The uptempo first half gave promise of a final 45 minutes of on-field fireworks, however as both teams seemingly conspired in secret during the break to try to lull the crowd to sleep, it turned into a torturous affair without any style, substance or real scoring chances for either team.
While Karlsruhe did an admirable job to shut down any further attacks by their visitors, they were powerless to make any headway towards an equalizer against a defense which, after the sounding of the referee's final whistle, had extended their run without conceding a goal to a remarkable 521 minutes.
The loss leaves Karlsruhe barely on the safe side of the line, just two points ahead of Osnabrück in the relegation playoff spot with four games left on the schedule. They hit the road on Saturday to take on 17th-place Rot-Weiß Oberhausen in a pivotal six-pointer which could give them some breathing room or potentially drop them into the bottom three.