DAVID SMITH - Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Shawn Barry and Linz kept within reach of the Ersta Liga's top spot with a draw at Hartberg while Conor O'Brien and Neustadt continued their slip with a shut-out loss in Altach.
SCR Altach 2 - 0 SC Wiener Neustadt
Conor O'Brien and SC Wiener Neustadt were unable to bounce back from their midweek blow-out, coming up scoreless and empty-handed in their loss at SCR Altach on Saturday.
Neustadt began the game brightly and on the offensive, with Matthias Koch coming close on a pair of chances in the first ten minutes - including a blast which forced Altach keeper Martin Kobras into a diving save.
It was, however, Altach who struck first rather unexpectedly in the 13th minute, after Philipp Netzer took what looked like a hopeless shot from more than 30 yards out, which remarkably threaded through multiple defenders and bounced inside the lower left corner.
Neustadt continued to be the better of the two teams, but once again suffered a blow against the flow of the game in the 55th minute.
Ismael Tajouri tried to dribble into the Neustadt penalty area, but was tripped up as he tried to find space, forcing the referee to point to the spot. Hannes Aigner made no mistake with his attempt, sending his low shot to the right corner while the keeper dove to the opposite side.
Neustadt continued to push for an opening to come back, however any hope they had of clawing back was quashed when Dennis Mimm was shown a second yellow card after recklessly tackling Louis Ngwat-Mahop from behind in the penalty area in the 76th minute.
While Mimm was sent for an early shower, Neustadt keeper Thomas Vollnhafer did save some face for his team by blocking Aigner's spot kick attempt, although it was a minor consolation as the final whistle eventually sounded the 2-0 loss for the visitors.
The result sends Neustadt down to second-last in the standings. They have a chance for redemption on Wednesday when they face Admira Wacker in the second round of the Austrian Cup, then return to league action on Saturday against last-place Ried.
TSV Hartberg 2 - 2 LASK Linz
Shawn Barry and Linz let a golden opportunity to challenge the league's top spot slip away, blowing a two-goal lead on their trip to Hartberg on Friday.
Linz were quick to assert their authority on the game, after Radovan Vujanovic reeled in a long pass from Thomas Hinum and coolly slotted it in the lower right corner for the 1-0 lead in the 16th minute.
Just moments after Vujanovic saw a free kick klang tantalizingly off the crossbar, Christopher Drazan successfully put his team up 2-0 when he found space on the left side of the area for a shot to the far corner.
Linz looked to be cruising to at least a share of the division lead, however the hosts had other intentions, putting on an impressive display in the final 20 minutes to force the draw.
First, David Sencar spotted a wide-open Danijel Prskalo in the 70th minute for a far-corner shot to bring the hosts to 2-1, then Bright Adomwonyi took advantage of a confused moment in the defense to make space for a shot that was deflected in its way into goal for the equalizer.
The result, while disappointing, does keep Linz in the picture for the Ersta Liga's lead, as they trail Mattersburg by merely goal differential, and leaders Liefering by just two points.
After a brief interlude for cup play, they will be out for the win when they host SKN Sankt Pölten on Friday.
Keith Cardona made his first appearance on Liefering's bench on Friday for their 2-2 road draw at FAC Team für Wien.