Averaging less than a point per game away from home this season, there were fears an often travel-sick Union side may have run into another roadblock at the Ruhrstadion. Instead, the visitors from the capital found themselves ahead early on, when Kruse rifled a half-volley into the top left-hand corner to send ‘Die Eisernen’ on their way.
Winless the previous time these two sides shared a division, Bochum were hoping to spark an upset, but the hosts continued to stall throughout the opening half. Unable to threaten a resilient Union backline, it was in fact the away side that came closest to a second goal, with both Bastian Oczipka and Grischa Prömel steering efforts just wide.
Playing with the handbrake on for much of the opening 45 minutes, Bochum looked to step on the gas after the restart and should’ve drawn level midway through the second half. Andreas Luthe could only parry Elvis Rexhbecaj’s original stinging effort into the path of the usually reliable Miloš Pantović, but the Serbian blazed his rebounded strike over the crossbar of an empty net.
Frustration turned to despair for Pantović 10 minutes from time, when his driven effort crashed against the underside of the crossbar, before eventually bobbling to safety. A tetchy close to proceedings looked to jeopardize Union’s advantage, but an under-zealous Bochum attack failed to knock them off course. The hosts now hover worryingly above the drop zone and will begin the new year in need of a jump start.