Newcastle Vikings women’s team came within just one goal of causing an unexpected upset in their top-of-the-table England Handball North Regional Development League match against a strong Peninsula side on Saturday.
A busy day of handball at South Shields’ Temple Park Leisure Centre began with the morning’s Under 16 Tyne & Wear County handball trials. 20 girls and eight boys selected following last month’s Handball Schools Festival turned up for the first round of trials in front of a large crowd of family supporters, with the second round due to take place on Sunday 12 February ahead of the Vikings’ home matches against Liverpool women and Liverpool Speke Garston men.
Newcastle Vikings ladies took an early lead in the following league match, the opener appropriately scored by captain Sandra Christke on her birthday. Right-half Alina Inta’s powerful shot from the back court and Maren Liane’s penalty strike then preceded left-half Judyta Turulska’s landmark 150th Vikings league and cup goal. Their opponents from Merseyside’s Wirral peninsula, coached by record Great Britain men’s player and London 2012 Olympian Chris McDermott and featuring young Great Britain women’s internationals Gabby Howarth and Laura Black, nevertheless levelled the scores before edging in front.
In a highly competitive match in which there was never more than two goals between the sides, Newcastle continued to peg back Peninsula through goals from Inta, winger Krystina Coulson, line-player Liane’s second penalty and centre Christke’s brace, before the away side went in 11-9 up at half-time.
Winger Blessing Ogbee added her name to the scoresheet, but the Vikings’ second half scoring was dominated by another five strikes from Turulska with fellow back-court player Inta firing in four more of her own including one from the penalty line. At the other end a gutsy all-round defensive performance coupled with some fine saves from goalkeeper Andrea King continued to thwart Peninsula’s pacey attacking plays, King also saving a couple of penalty shots.
But as Newcastle once again fought back to try to level the scores in the final minutes it was Peninsula’s defence that stayed solid and just managed to keep the Vikings at bay, 19-20 the final score. Having run Peninsula so close in such a well-played match, Newcastle’s will nevertheless go into their next match at home to Manchester on 5 February in a positive frame of mind.
The day culminated with a series of North East friendly league men’s matches. With Sunderland Handball Club unable to field a team it was left to Newcastle Vikings, Durham University and York Hunters to take each other on in the second round of the mini league. Newcastle opened with a 14-9 win over York, before slipping to an 11-16 defeat to Durham, with York then beating the student side 10-7. In the repeat fixtures the Vikings beat the Hunters 8-7, before Durham won 11-7 over Newcastle and 10-9 against York. The results meant Durham University’s men have won both the first two rounds of the North East League, with the third round due to take place in York on 26 February.
Newcastle Vikings women: Andrea King (GK), Malin Walle, Judyta Turulska (6 goals), Krystina Coulson (1), Maren Liane (2), Blessing Ogbee (1), Emmanuelle Chandler, Alina Inta (6), Sandra Christke (3), Rebecca Johnson.