Union beat Türkiyemspor for the second time in a week on Thursday evening, this time 3-0 in a cracking floodlit Polytan cup tie. Following a close-fought, goalless first half, Union’s goals came from Lisa Heiseler, Sarah Abu Sabbah and Celine Frank.
1. FC Union Berlin: Hornschuch - Metzker, K. Orschmann, Niesler, D. Orschmann - Görsdorf (65. Frank), Heiseler, Moraitou - Blaschka (83. Youssef), Abu Sabbah, Trojahn (65. Reissner)
Türkiyemspor: Scheunemann - Wolter Cosme, Schick, Laue, Toth (88. Kullick) - Lübcke, Hartwig (68. Beyaztepe) - Pflanz (88. Griethe), Szuh, Loredo Ahoki (80. Mohamad) - Wippig (88. Schwedler)
Goals: 1:0 Heiseler (57'), 2:0 Abu Sabbah (85'), 3:0 Frank (90+4')
A battling, goalless first half
The artificial turf of the Käthe-Tucholla Sportplatz glittered with frost under a black, crisp sky and weak, milky floodlights. It could only mean one thing, the return of the cup. But as pretty as the scene was, the 150 or so people in attendance could have been forgiven for thinking the worst, that this would be no competition at all. Union had beaten Türkiyemspor 11-2 on Sunday in a match they utterly dominated, leading 7-0 at half time.
And even the most myopic of Unioner there on Thursday evening would have admitted that there is only so much spectacle when the fight is over so soon after kick off.
But this was something else. Türkiyem’ were stung by the weekend, they had a point to prove, and it made for a compelling, battling cup tie that crackled and spat into action from the off.
Union's head coach, Ailien Poese had been wary, seeing their reaction coming, and making a single change from that side, the goalkeeper Sarah Hornschuch replacing Mal Wagner. She was in action almost straight away, sweeping up their captain, and leading light, Erika Szuh’s early effort.
Union struggled to find the heights they so often hit early on. There were a couple of misplaced passes, so uncharacteristic of them, as Türkiyem’ looked to attack down the flanks. But still, they have too much ability to be rolled over, even when the opponents have revenge on their minds.
Sarah Abu Sabbah brought a ball down on the spin with delicate ease, suddenly bursting past her two markers like they weren’t even there; Katja Orschmann, a quarterback masquerading as centre-half, hit a dangerous through ball for Pia Metzker; Athanasia Moriatou in the middle, Anouk Blaschka on the right and Metzker ahead combined intricately, trying to trick their way through a midfield littered with crunching tackles and hard pressing players from either side. Lisa Heiseler shot over, Moraitou dragged her free kick wide.
The intensity was close to spilling over at times. Blaschka took a blow to the back of the head, the spirited, fantastic Abu Sabbah got a yellow card for a rush of blood to the head and was led away by Moraitou, chirping away as she went. Ten minutes later she and Laetitia Scheunemann, Türkiyem's unfliching keeper, had a horrifying clash as they both raced onto a 50-50 ball near the right-hand side of the Türkiyemspor box, reaching it at the same time, neither backing down, and both paying the price. They required lengthy treatment as their coaches worried and their team-mates came together to compose themselves once more.
It was emblematic of a half that Union were starting to dominate, littered with corners flashing across the box that no-one could quite get on the end of. Moraitou unleashed a shot from 25 yards that started off innocuously and grew more dangerous by the inch as it dropped suddenly just to the right of Scheunemann’s goal.
But led by Szuh, dropping into midfield where she was engaged in a compelling duel with Moraitou, Türkiyem’ wouldn’t give up. It took a combination of Heiseler and Dina Orschmann to dispossess her right at the end of the half. Mayumi Loredo Ahoki was proving a dynamic, bustling handful, darting into the occasional gaps opening up between Union’s constant pressing. Their coach, Mehmet Bolat, was livid at an Union free kick given near the end of the half, dead centre, on the edge of the D, that Katja Orschmann clipped only an inch over Scheunemann’s bar.
Dina Orschmann, meanwhile, had to try and control her natural attacking instincts at leaft-back, only allowing herself the occasional, devastating flourish as she did with a couple of minutes to play when she suddenly burst inside, covering half the pitch in what seemed like a couple of steps, leaving two players in her dust, and finding Blaschka on the right, whose cross was so close to being put away by Abu Sabbah. Abu Sabbah then had a volley saved by Scheunemann, diving to her right.
Heiseler opens things up, Beyaztepe sees red
The fight continued. Lena-Marie Wolter Cosme lost her boot out near Union’s left wing when tackled by Dina Orschmann, and it sat there for a moment, a foreign object among the occasional browning, damp leaves on the silvery green of the astroturf. But play had carried on, so Wolter Cosme picked it up and chased back, still holding it as she re-engaged Orschmann, now near the edge of her own box and was only able to put it back on as Union prepared to take a corner.
Scheunemann showed all her bravery, again racing out to save at the feet of Abu Sabbah, and by the end of the game she would be playing on practically one leg, limping horribly, wincing every time she had to kick the ball out of play.
But with almost an hour played, the guests could hold back the tide no more. The skipper, Heiseler, picking the ball up near the edge of the of the box, taking a touch, a nudge forwards, and rifling the ball past Scheunemann with her right foot to open the scoring. It was as if she said enough was enough, “give it here”, as she has done so many times before.
Ailien Poese, all in black on the touchline from the tips of her trainers to the peak of her cap, leapt into the air, she knew how important it was, as it inspired Heiseler’s team-mates to push ever further on. Both Abu Sabbah and Dina Orschmann went close shortly afterwards.
Heartbreak was to follow for the guests ten minutes later when, just a few minutes after coming on, Lorin-Hiva Beyaztepe was sent off following a kick at her fellow substitute, Union’s midfielder, Celine Frank. It seemed fairly innocuous, and the red was harsh, but it largely ended their hopes there and then. Beyaztepe trudged off, disbelievingly.
The addition of Naika Reissner on Union’s left only stretched Türkiyempsor further, her constant running and hitting the byline driving them to distraction, while Abu Sabbah took a lull in play to drive on her team-mates, “come on,” she implored them. “let’s get a second goal.”
This Union side are not ones to rest on their laurels, and duly it was coming. Katja Orschmann hit the bar with a header from a corner with ten minutes to go before Frank’s wicked drive could only be palmed into the path of Heiseler and Abu Sabbah by Scheunemann. The pair raced, and Abu Sabbah won, stroking the ball home, the necessary selfishness of the superb striker on show for all to see. It didn’t stop her from checking on the stranded keeper though.
So it was with practically the last kick of a now freezing night that Union would make it three, and what a way to finish, Frank beating Scheunemann from 40 yrads out, hitting the ball with pace but enough dip, having seen the keeper off her line, for it to kiss the underside of the bar before bouncing over the line.
They had passed another test and come out shining, and the skipper intimated as much after the final whistle when she said, "We're obviously over the moon that we've progressed to the next round. That was our goal. We knew it would be a different game to Sunday. We were aware that it would be a battle.”
It’s another battle won. This Union side are approaching a long winter break in the finest of unremitting form.