For months, SV Darmstadt 98 seemed completely immune to the vicissitudes of a long football season. Untouched, the South Hesse drew their circles at the top of the table of the Second Bundesliga. Recently, however, the longed-for return to the Bundesliga is no longer a foregone conclusion.

The satisfying 1-1 draw at home against the promotion favourites Hamburger SV was followed last week by a 0-1 defeat at third-placed FC Heidenheim by Jan-Niklas Beste's late goal (1th minute) and on Saturday at the Bundesliga relegated Arminia Bielefeld, who were fighting to stay in the league, a 89-1 defeat, which hurt particularly because the East Westphalians overcame the 3-0 deficit through Mathias Honsak's short-term shot after a wide tee shot by goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen (1th) in were able to transform a triumphant success.

Perhaps also because Honsak, the best offensive force of his team, had to be replaced four minutes later because of the adductor problems already noticeable during the previous week. Of the force and duel strength of the "Lilies", which had been tried and tested game after game for months, when it was important this time not to see much, which was all the more annoying because the Darmstadt team missed the great opportunity to make it 2-0 two minutes after the lead goal.

Untapped key moment

The Swiss Filip Stojilkovic, for the first time in the starting eleven, but lost pace and power during his solo run, so that his shot could be blocked by goalkeeper Fraisl and finally stopped by Prietl in the goal area. "We have left Arminia alive," said coach Torsten Lieberknecht about the unused key moment. Like a week ago on the Swabian Alb, the momentum on Saturday turned in favor of the Darmstadt opponent.

The now passionately fighting for their chance East Westphalia equalized by Prietl's header (72.) and became the celebrated winner in the final spurt by a fabulous goal of the young Austrian Benjamin Kanuric via outside edge into the goal triangle (90.+1) and by the addition of their captain Fabian Klos (90.+4).

After the second defeat within a week, the aura of an almost unbeatable team was gone. Much to the annoyance of the players and their coach. Captain Fabian Holland vented his annoyance as he looked back on the game with some incomprehension. "In the end," he said, "there were many fifty-fifty situations that didn't tip over to our side. We just weren't fully there, and so you lose a game."

Internal criticism

The Berliner even wanted to have felt that "today the willingness was not one hundred percent there". A rather fierce internal criticism, for which there were enough signs. Lieberknecht also complained that afternoon under the East Westphalian winter sun. He, who turned the Darmstadt team into a stable unit for months, which his Bielefeld colleague Uwe Koschinat ennobled with the predicate "indomitable" before his debut as the new Arminia coach, already found the first half "driven" in the "game with the ball".

His team, he reprimanded afterwards, had "no clarity in the fifty-to-fifty situations". In the end, Bielefeld had "won the decisive duels and the second balls" – and thus also the game. However, the football coach Lieberknecht did not want to judge too strictly about the acute weakness of form of his professionals. "In a long season," he said, "there are also phases when you have a small dent. We need to get out of the dent calmly and clearly. We will succeed."

Otherwise, it could be with the so close ascent at the end as in the previous year, when the Hessians had occupied fourth place after 34 matchdays, again nothing. This time, SV Darmstadt 98, Hamburger SV and 1st FC Heidenheim are very close to each other in tabular form. On the other hand: A possible relegation against the Bundesliga sixteenth do not necessarily have to fear the Darmstadt from experience.

In 2014, after a 1-3 home defeat, the then third-division third managed a spectacular 4-2 success after extra time through Elton da Costa's last-minute goal after two hours and four minutes at the second division third-last on the Bielefelder Alm. Arminia was relegated to the third division again – with their captain Fabian Klos at the top. This time, the long Lower Saxony set the decisive goal in the fourth minute of injury time to victory. And once again, SV Darmstadt 98 had lost in Bielefeld as always after the relegation drama nine years ago.