Football Features

Union Berlin 1-1 Schalke 04: Kenny rocket offers Wagner a lifeline as Andrich patience finally pays off

By J Smith

Published: 16:32, 7 June 2020

Union Berlin and Schalke 04’s recent struggles continued with a 1-1 draw on Sunday afternoon. 

These two sides have been in terrible form since the Bundesliga restart but Union came flying out of the traps, taking the lead after 11 minutes through Robert Andrich and missing a number of chances to double their advantage.

A long-range Jonjoe Kenny strike gave David Wanger’s men an undeserved equaliser just before the half-hour mark and from there, both sides huffed and puffed to no avail in a match short on aesthetic quality.

But what did we learn from the stalemate?

1. Kenny rocket salvages a point

It’s been a weird loan spell for Kenny, who has looked impressive going forward but continues to show the lack of defensive and positional awareness which meant he’s been unable to supplant Seamus Coleman at Everton. However, at least from a Schalke perspective, there’s no questioning this was his day.

The young right-back unleashed a rocket of a shot to pull Wagner’s side level in the 28th minute, charging forward unchallenged by the Union defence and firing the ball low inside Rafael Gikiewicz’s right-hand post — Kenny’s second Bundesliga goal of the season.

Kenny charged up and down the right flank throughout, showing the exact sort of energy and commitment which has been sorely lacking from his teammates during the second half of the season. Although you can’t see him breaking into the Everton side beyond this season, there are those who will be willing to take a punt on a tenacious right-back like Kenny.

2. Patience is a virtue

Andrich isn’t known for his goalscoring abilities. After all, he’d only managed 12 in the league at senior level ahead of Sunday’s match and is more valued for his physical presence and defensive contributions. That said, you certainly can’t blame the guy for not trying.

The midfielder finally netted his first-ever top-flight goal to give Union the lead on Sunday with his 48th shot — an incredible number of wild attempts and missed opportunities.

Given his previous wastefulness, you couldn’t help but be impressed with the way Andrich took his chance, too, receiving an Anthony Ujah pass and charging toward a terribly exposed Schalke penalty area before finishing low beyond Alexander Nubel into the bottom corner.

3. Chance missed for wasteful Union

Let’s face it, as good as Kenny’s effort was, there was absolutely no way Schalke 04 should have found themselves level in this one. Wagner’s men were cut to ribbons by Union Berlin, who could have found themselves two or three goals to the good inside the opening 20 minutes.

Union have struggled to create chances all season and it appeared this lack of practice caught them off guard on Sunday, with the likes of Yunus Malli and Florian Hubner missing golden opportunities, while Keven Schlotterbeck was denied at close range by Nubel in the final five minutes. In fact, Urs Fischer’s men managed 13 shots to Schalke’s four throughout the match but could only muster one goal.

With Werder Bremen losing to Wolfsburg earlier in the day, this was a big chance for Union to end their automatic relegation fears once and for all. For now, at least, they must keep sweating.

4. The wait for a win goes on

The return of the Bundesliga has been a huge positive for many sides — the likes of Bayern Munich and Wolfsburg, for example, have flourished. However, it’s safe to say that really hasn’t been the case for Union Berlin and Schalke.

Union have now taken just two points from five games since the restart and, if you go back even further, are winless in their last seven. That run has seen them drift to 14th in the table, just three points ahead of Fortuna Dusseldorf in the relegation playoff place.

For Schalke, this actually represents their first point since the restart, having lost to Borussia Dortmund, Augsburg, Dusseldorf and Werder Bremen in their previous four matches. Scaling back even further, Wagner’s men are without a win in 12 Bundesliga matches, scoring just four goals during that time, a run which has completely derailed a promising season which could have ended in qualification for European football.

5. Matondo shows up his teammates

Although they improved defensively as the game went on, Schalke were miserable offensively once again in this one, making it far too easy for Union to stay in shape and keep them away from their penalty area. However, if there was one man who never stopped trying for Wagner’s men, it was Welsh youngster Rabbi Matondo.

The former Manchester City youngster was deployed in more of a central role in this one but was given licence to roam right across the pitch to find space and cause problems for Union Berlin.

Matondo attempted five dribbles throughout the match, completed three of them and was one of just three Schalke players to attempt a shot.

Furthermore, the 19-year-old covered 10.81km — the second-highest of any Schalke player before he was substituted in the 82nd minute — and performed 22 sprints in an incredibly energetic performance.

This desire to make things happen and raw commitment to the cause from a 19-year-old was impressive, even if he was a little naive and wasteful at times, but only served to further illustrate just how shambolic Schalke have actually been in recent months.