1860 Munich's promotion bandwagon lost some crucial momentum after failing to beat St. Pauli in Monday evening's top Bundesliga 2 match. A Kevin Volland goal earned 'Sechzig' a deserved point with a late equaliser at the Allianz Arena.
Top scorer Volland sealed his return to the side after suspension, notching his 10th goal of the season. The German U21 international departs for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim in the summer.
The largest crowd of the season (31,600) had turned out in force, hoping to see 'the Lions' continue a tremendous run of recent form - a haul of 22 points from a possible 24 - which has seen them storm back into promotion contention - just when another season of mid-season obscurity was looming.
Serbian defender Antonio Rukavina struck a sweet volley against the crossbar on 14 minutes as the hosts gained the upper hand in the contest.
Volland spurred another good opportunity on 22 minutes, failing to connect when he really should have done better from close range.
The home side were punished for this profligacy in front of goal and went behind against the run of play. Kai Bülow clumsily scythed down Petar Sliskovic in the box just after the half hour mark.
Gabor Kiraly, who last week gained the record for international goalkeeping appearances for Hungary, just failed to keep out a firmly struck penalty from Florian Bruns.
1860 battled hard in search of an equaliser and Stefan Aigner (rumoured to be a transfer target for 1. FC Nuremberg) had a header correctly chalked off for offside on 37 minutes.
The visitors from Hamburg looked to have done enough to seal a vital win to improve their own promotion prospects before some slapstick defending from Patrick Funk in his own box gifted the hosts an equaliser. Funk should have cleared to Row Z but hesitated (for reasons known only to him) and was caught in possession by energetic substitute Collin Benjamin. The loose ball fell kindly to Volland, who didn't need a second invitation to slot home with aplomb into the bottom left hand corner.
Only time will tell how crucial the 88th minute equaliser will be at the end of the season. On the night, it was no more than the home side deserved for their efforts, gaining their first point of the campaign after falling behind in a match. 'Die Löwen' stretched their unbeaten run to nine games, remain in 6th place and visit relegation-haunted FSV Frankfurt on Saturday looking for a win to stay in touch with the upper echelons of the table.