When the final whistle sounded, they stood there for themselves, their hands resting on their knees, their eyes lowered to the furrowed Heidenheim green. First of all, get along briefly, first sort out this almost unknown feeling. After more than eight months or 21 games, SV Darmstadt 98 lost a second division game for the first time on Saturday evening: 0:1 by conceding a late goal at 1 FC Heidenheim.

Captain Fabian Holland set the tone shortly afterwards when he said: "This will not blow us away at all." And indeed, for 90 intense minutes, the "Lilies" gave no indication that their glory could quickly come to an end this season. After a showdown with many hooks, eyelets and even more duels, they were simply punished for inattention in the 89th minute.

. It was an unfortunate coincidence that central defenders Thomas Isherwood and Christoph Zimmermann took themselves out of the game in this scene when they wanted to take care of the league's top scorer, Tim Kleindienst (15 goals), after a long ball for two. This created a clear path for Stefan Schimmer from Heidenheim, who skillfully staged Jan-Niklas Beste – goal.

Although the South Hesse on the Ostalb still set to a powerful final offensive, in which goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen threw himself wildly into the header duels far in the opponent's half and the Heidenheimer Dzenis Burnic still saw yellow-red, but the FCH defense was not to crack for the Darmstadt on this evening.

No team takes full risks

The top match of third against first was, as expected, not for football aesthetes, but more for friends of football as a hard physical exercise. The character of the two teams, which have been pushing forward for several seasons despite manageable budgets in the second league comparison, and the constellation at the top of the table, spoke for an unyielding confrontation characterized by condensed defensive lines and the physique of the players.

Neither party took full risks. The Heidenheimers did not, because the "Lilies" would have marched to nine points in the event of a defeat. The Darmstadt team did not, because it was enough for them away to preserve the six-point advantage over the Heidenheimers with a draw. Two draws in the duels against HSV (1:1) and FCH would have been adequate against the background of the tense personnel situation in the squad.

Now you have to deal with the SVD after a point from two games simply with the fact that the field on the three promotion ranks has condensed enormously, the HSV with one and the Heidenheimer with three points behind them sit in the neck. If you take a closer look at the results of the top three, which started strongly after the winter break, the forces have hardly shifted: From the six games since the restart, the Darmstadt 13, the Hamburg 14 and the Heidenheimer 13 points. Which now gives these three clubs – especially after the results of the weekend – an enormous advantage over the other pursuers.

Torsten Lieberknecht, of course, found aspects worthy of criticism – "too few touchdowns", "too many wrong decisions" – in his team's game. But the coach didn't want to hang them too high. "We've lost a game now, let's move on." Lieberknecht also pointed out that after the only previous defeats of this season, the league opener in Regensburg and the cup derby at Frankfurt Eintracht, his team started a propere series of success. "My team will certainly do that again," said the Palatinate. Next Saturday SV 98 plays against Arminia Bielefeld.

What the Darmstadt game lacked in Heidenheim was offensive penetration at least in a few decisive scenes, which are often enough for the "Lilies". The remarkable volley long-range shot by Philipp Tietz (2nd) and the header scored from an offside position by the scorer (31st), plus a halfway dangerous attempt by Holland (70th) – that's all it was.

On the other hand, the Heidenheimers had the nose ahead in all relevant statistical key figures of the game and with the header chances of Jan Schöppner (against the crossbar) and Patrick Mainka (brilliant parade of SVD goalkeeper shoes) also the better chances. "We did everything we could in this game, the attitude was right. These are things we never want to blame ourselves," Schuhen said. "Now it's about showing the right reaction."