DAVID SMITH - Friday, May 20, 2011
With their two-game relegation playoff series against Dynamo Dresden looming, Osnabrück assistant coach Joe Enochs is hoping the team's recent play will keep team morale high as they fight for their survival.
A ten-game streak without having tasted victory had Osnabrück entering the final round of the 2. Bundesliga season balanced on the edge of a knife. While heading to their final showdown in Ingolstadt occupying the spot destined for a two-legged playoff against the 3. Liga's third-best team, nothing was yet decided.
Favorable results amongst the three teams still fighting it out near the bottom of the standings could have seen the Lily Whites jump past Karlsruhe to end the season entirely safe from harm, while a negative turn of events could have dropped them down below Oberhausen into an automatic relegation place.
As luck would have it, an Oberhausen loss combined with a Karlsruhe win rendered their 1-0 win against Ingolstadt mathematically irrelevant, setting up the crucial tilt with Dresden.
While breaking their long winless streak by putting an abrupt halt to Ingolstadt's own nine-game run without defeat was by all means an impressive way to head into their two most important games of the season, Enochs is hoping that the team will have already had a boost from the unrewarded work they had put in during the previous weeks.
"Obviously [the win] built a little bit of confidence in the team," Enochs told YA of the effect of the victory over Ingolstadt, "[but] we've had a lot of confidence anyways since we've played really well in the last six or seven games, we've just not gotten the results."
While on paper the three points against Ingolstadt can be pointed to as their best result since beating Oberhausen in late-February, the long-time Osnabrück player and now coach is quick to emphasize that it is by no means a performance to latch onto as a shining beacon headed into their games against a strong Dresden team.
"Against Ingolstadt, we didn't play as well as we had played against Bochum or or FSV Frankfurt," he concedes, "but we got the win, so that's given us a little bit of a boost."
Enochs offered somewhat of an insight of what was happening on the Osnabrück bench during the nerve-wracking 90 minutes, which in a situation such as this is always with one eye on the other important games.
"We were informed the whole time," he readily admits of their stream of information regarding the other crucial games. "The players on the field also realized what the scores were on the other games since they were flashing them up on the scoreboard."
One such notification just past the 15th minute showed revealed exactly what the Osnabrück players, coaches and fans had been hoping to see. With Oberhausen having just fallen behind in Cottbus and Karlsruhe having conceded an equalizer to FC Union, the Lily Whites were in position to move into a safe position should they find a way to take the lead over their hosts.
"We wanted to push up, but we didn't want to lose our plan that we had on the field," Enochs evaluated of whether this affected any decisions from the coaching staff.
"If Oberhausen had been ahead and Karlsruhe was also leading, then we would have had to make some substitutions, but that wasn't the case so we just stuck to our plan."
Osnabrück did jump ahead shortly thereafter, taking the lead on a 35th-minute goal, however it was largely a moot point since Karlsruhe had already retaken the lead four minutes prior, and eventually surged ahead to the win leaving Osnabrück with the playoff challenge ahead.
Even though all the pieces didn't fall into place in the precise way Enochs and the rest of the team had hoped, he remains focused on what they were indeed able control themselves, and hopes that they can follow through with a repeat performance in the coming days.
"We did our homework and won away from home. It wasn't a very good game from us, but nobody is looking at how we played, just the end result."
"We got the result we needed and were hoping that Union would get the result in Karlsruhe. It didn't happen so we've just got to look forward to these next two games against Dresden and hope that they end positively for us."
Osnabrück will visit Dresden for the first of two legs on Friday evening, then return home on Tuesday for the final decider in front of their own home crowd.