Not for the faint of heart

After a successful start in the league – beating Lübeck 2-0 at their Lohmühlestadion – 1. FC Magdeburg were to play the first round in the Saxony-Anhalt Cup against Landesliga side VfB Ottersleben. Ottersleben, from a suburb in the West of Magdeburg, play in tier VII, so most 1. FC Magdeburg fans expected a dominant win.
In the match itself, however, Magdeburg showed nothing of the tactics that new manager Ruud Kaiser had tried to instill into the team: it was not a quick passing game, but one dominated by long passes and long dribblings. As neither of these yielded much success, regulation time ended with a nil-all draw.
Luckily, just a few minutes into extra time, FCM’s Stiefel scored the lead. But Ottersleben were far from giving up and produced a number of great counter-attacks that could have led to an equaliser, but in the end they failed to produce a goal from these opportunities. The punishment soon followed when Magdeburg’s Becker scored another to make it 2-0 for the final score. With a sigh of relief, FCM fans noted that the club with his new team had just „won“ the second of two competitive matches, and had again not conceded a goal.
Only three days later, the second cup round was scheduled, this time against tier VI side Preussen Magdeburg. Everyone and their dog were convinced that this would be a different game compared to the first round match – and they were right. Only not in such fashion as they had thought. The match got off to a good start, when Stiefel’s free-kick in the third minute was deflected into the goal and Magdeburg took the lead. The next twenty minutes the Regionalliga side dominated play, but then Preussen began to take over. To be exact, 1. FC Magdeburg were exclusively defending now – and badly at that. Consequently Preussen – whose starting line-up included no less than nine (!) former FCM players – scored the equaliser and with the half-time whistle took the lead. An abysmal FCM defense saw Preussen increase their lead to 1-3 after captain Daniel Bauer involuntarily deflected a long pass to a Preussen forward.
Spirits in the stands weren’t exactly high, most of the spectators no longer believed FCM could turn the match around. With 7 minute to go, however, Magdeburg’s Verkic let one go from 25 yards out, and, luckily, the ball hit the inside of the post to make it 2-3. The match had become hectic, so much so that referee Schweinefuß had failed to send off Preussen’s captain for unsportsmanlike conduct after he pushed Bauer over following a foul. After Magdeburg’s goal, however, a Preussen player was sent off with a second yellow for disagreement. The match did not get any easier for FCM though, as Preussen fought tooth and nail to hang on to their lead, but to no avail, as Denis Wolf scored the equaliser with three minutes left on the clock. In extra time, it was again Preussen who could have taken the lead, but their forward only managed to hit the bar. But in the second half of extra time 1. FC Magdeburg took the lead for the second time in the match, when Eddy Vorm headed the ball in from close range. While spectators were still celebrating, repeatedly chanting „Eddy, Eddy“, Preussen equalised again, when goalie Tischer failed to make contact with a cross. This was completely avoidable, especially as the referee had sent off another Preussen player for a cynical foul on Wolf. Penalties were then needed to decided the match. Here 1. FC Magdeburg had the better goalie, Tischer saved one shot, and made two takers shoot the ball over the goal: 1. FC Magdeburg were in round three. Remarkably, fans celebrated rather than pour out criticism over the young team that had tortured them so much in the game.
On Monday, the team were treated to a 90-minute video analysis session with their manager, and by now should have put the match behind them, especially defender Daniel Halke who admitted it had been his worst match in the past three years. However, none of the players were able to say exactly why they had failed to produce a good performance that day. In any case, 1. FC Magdeburg has won all three competitive matches so far, although there is room for improvement in the manner of these victories.