And again the big party had to be called off. Again it was not an intoxicating cheer with the fans, again there was nothing left but to reassure each other that the big day was yet to come. The 1-2 defeat at Hannover 96 on Sunday was painful for the "Lilies" troop. The fourth Bundesliga promotion in the club's history was to be secured 400 kilometres away from home, but the Darmstadt professionals were not even close for 90 minutes.

From the whole body language of the professionals, the pinched face of coach Torsten Lieberknecht and the irritability of the representatives of the club management after the final whistle, it could be seen that the low blow of Hanover had sat. An afternoon in Lower Saxony that gnawed at the "lily" soul, but after a while also made those involved switch back to forward defense.

"We had an excellent situation in the dressing room. Some experienced players have given an insight into their emotions – in an emotional way," said goalkeeper Marcel Schuhen. "We're going to give it our all on Friday." In five days, Darmstadt 98 will have the third and penultimate match point after two missed in the home game against Magdeburg.

Darmstadt has something to lose

In view of the fact that after two defeats in a row they are still three and four points ahead of Heidenheim and Hamburger SV, Darmstadt's chances are still well ahead of the final two matchdays. But it has now become a nail-biter. The combatively adequate, but overall weak performance in front of 30,000 spectators in Hanover revealed that it has begun to work in the minds of the South Hessians.

Suddenly, they have something to lose, and the fear that the impressive construction work of the past few months could still slip through their fingers on the home stretch has visibly taken root. Two dismissals in the final phase of a game played from inside and outside between the teams with plenty of poison also speak for it. The chants of the approximately 5000,<> SVD fans after the final whistle "did something to you," said coach Lieberknecht. And held out the prospect that his team could "play with anger" on Friday.

Surprisingly, the Palatinate had called up his pros in a changed tactical formation. In order to have more offensive power on the pitch, he dispensed with the always stabilizing factor Tobias Kempe in a game in which nerves of steel were also important. And left Fabian Holland, who returned to the starting line-up after weeks of absence due to laryngeal disease, as the sole defensive midfielder. This did not get the "lilies", who seemed to have abruptly lost all the statics (with two "sixes") in their game, which had been resilient for months.

From kick-off, distances and procedures were not right, and the Darmstadters were sometimes on confused paths. Lieberknecht had unintentionally given his players a brain teaser on the pitch that overwhelmed them. Nothing went so well anymore: Pfeiffer's diagonal balls flew nowhere, Holland's tackling strength did not come to fruition, Bader's safety on the left eroded, Honsak let himself be boiled off as in his darker Darmstadt days, Phillip Tietz and Filip Stojilkovic were often not in agreement as an unfamiliar double leadership - and, and, and.

High-speed verbal arguments

When Lieberknecht corrected after 38 minutes, switched to 4-4-2 and brought Schnellhardt into the centre, the score was already 0-2. However, they left it at Nielsen's header (10th) and Teuchert's highlight when he drove the ball under the crossbar from an acute angle (31st).

When Lieberknecht's insight was less than five minutes old, so the Darmstadters were back in their familiar formation, it was only 1:2. Attacker Tietz had shortened with a precision shot (43rd) - and seconds later Schnellhardt almost managed to equalize. But in the end, the burden of the completely misguided first half hour was too high – and Lieberknecht's admission was clear: "Looking at the whole game, and I don't break a tooth there, I take the defeat completely on my shoulders."

The second half began as an exchange of blows, some of which were wild. A lot of hustle and bustle on the pitch, many high-speed verbal arguments also between the two benches, which surged each other. But the Darmstadters managed to keep the 96ers away from their own goal and to achieve a preponderance themselves. However, it was rarely dangerous: Zimmermann headed too high after a corner (55th), Tietz did not know how to make anything of a beautiful Bennett assist (76th).

It remained the same: these are not the days of the "lilies". When, in the 86th minute, the technically strong and experienced Bader had to leave the pitch with yellow-red, it seemed like the last piece of the puzzle of the realization: the Darmstadt team will have to be promoted on another day. When Manu also saw yellow-red after an unnecessary kick in injury time, the Darmstadt team gave a picture of deep frustration. As if a lot had slipped in a week with two defeats, which now needs to be repaired again.