Newcastle Vikings ladies team put in a gritty team performance, but went down 22-14 to a strong London GD II side in the England Handball Association Women’s League Cup Final in Manchester on Saturday.
Depleted by the absence of several regular players, the Vikings went into their first national cup final match at the Trafford Soccerdome with just seven available players, so were up against it from the outset. Whereas the experienced London GD side benefited from a full bench of substitutes.
Newcastle were slow to get into their game as London raced into an early 7-0 lead. But the Vikings soon found their defensive resolve and attacking potency once half-player Gesa Junge’s long-range effort got them on the scoresheet, quickly followed by a hat-trick from player-coach Marlen Slinning.
Remarkably the Vikings battled back to just one behind at 8-7, thanks to further strikes from Junge, centre Slinning and captain Sandra Christke from the penalty line. However, London seized back the initiative just before the break to go in 10-7 up at half-time.
The second half saw London put the Vikings to the sword with some incessant attacking plays to extend their advantage. But a brace of Christke goals from the line position and Slinning’s fifth, together with some great instinctive saves from goalkeeper Andrea King, kept Newcastle in the game.
Half Fienke Nanne added her name to the Vikings’ scoresheet with a powerful strike from distance before neatly setting up winger Blessing Ogbee. But without the ability to make any rolling substitutions, tiredness began to take its toll on the Newcastle team as the London side stretched their lead with some quick breakaway goals. The Vikings never gave up however, and kept up their fighting spirit throughout with Slinning scoring her sixth and seventh goals to give her the cup final’s top-scorer accolade.
London GD II claimed the league cup winners’ trophy with a 22-14 scoreline come the final whistle, adding to the EHA National Cup Final and Super 8 Women’s League titles already won by their first team this season. The Newcastle Vikings ladies will nevertheless look back on their first English cup final experience with pride in the way their depleted team performed and competed right to the end.
Newcastle Vikings: Andrea King (GK), Marlen Slinning (7 goals), Josefine ‘Fienke’ Nanne (1), Simone Smith, Gesa Junge (2), Blessing Ogbee (1), Sandra Christke (3)