The new Tyne & Wear County under-16 girls handball team took part in their first England Handball competition North region matches on Saturday at the Northgate Arena in Chester.
The first of their 2 x 20 minute matches was against Staffordshire side Olympia Cannock, who opened up an early 6-goal lead before centre Alexandra Inta scored Tyne & Wear’s first goal mid-way through the first half. However, they were unable to hold off Cannock’s attacks and by the time right-half Nazish Amin scored Tyne & Wear’s second just before the break they were 20-2 down.
The North Easterners got off to a better start in the second half as Inta scored her second goal with a great break through the Cannock defence, while goalkeeper Bryony Coldwell made some brilliant saves at the other end. Romanian youngster Inta went on to strike four more, her sixth goal coming on the fast break as she intercepted a pass in defence before dribbling up the court to shoot past the Cannock keeper. Inta, winger Esther Moffit, right-half Zoe Barber and line-player Jess Hegarty all came close to scoring further goals as Tyne & Wear tried to find gaps in the Cannock back line, while captain Alice Atkinson made some strong blocks and interceptions in defence. But they were unable to close the gap as Olympia Cannock ran out clear 35-7 winners.
With several other teams not able to make it to the event, the Tyne & Wear girls were awarded a walkover 10-0 win over scheduled opponents Tarporley, so then played a friendly game against a strong Shropshire team. Tahura Uddin had a great opportunity early on from the line position only for it to be saved well by Shropshire’s keeper, before the more experienced side opened up a three goal lead. Naz Amin struck Tyne & Wear’s first goal of the game, but despite a lot of shots on goal including an Inta penalty they were saved or hit the crossbar. All the girls worked hard in defence and put in some great tackles but Shropshire extended their advantage to take a 12-1 lead into the half-time break.
Alex Inta scored Tyne & Wear’s second early in the second half before her penalty shot struck the post, while Hegarty had a great scoring opportunity well saved and Amin also missed with a penalty strike of her own. Coldwell pulled off a superb save between the posts late on, but the Tyne & Wear girls increasingly tired as the game went on after fighting hard and with just one substitute, Shropshire winning 24-2 at the final whistle.
Coach Marlen Slinning Goulty was nevetheless very proud with how the girls performed in their first competitive matches and with the hard work and effort they put in. “They all had great spirit and worked as a team through both matches”, she said, adding “A steep learning curve for them but they improved all the time.” The girls will now look forward to the next round of Northern regional matches on 18 November 2017 when they are scheduled to face Shropshire and Merseyside-based club Peninsula.
Tyne & Wear U16 Girls: Bryony Coldwell (GK), Alexandra Inta, Zoe Barber, Nazish Amin, Alice Atkinson (C), Esther Moffit, Jess Hegarty, Tahura Uddin.