Newcastle Vikings Handball Club’s women’s team came from behind to snatch a superb 15-17 away victory over Manchester in their first league game of the season on Saturday, but the hosts proved too strong for Newcastle’s men.
The England Handball men’s National League North clash against Manchester’s first team was first up on the court set in the middle of the city’s National Cycling Centre velodrome. The home side took an early three-goal lead before centre Julien Eng got the Vikings on the scoresheet. However, despite further goals from Eng and half players Adam Harwood, Stephan Stricker and captain David Topacho’s brace, Newcastle were unable to withstand the swift and powerful attacking plays of their opponents as Manchester opened up a 16-6 advantage by half-time.
Manchester’s experience, strength and shooting accuracy continued to dominate in the second half, while a hand-injury to Harwood saw him having to sit out the rest of the game. Wingers Adam Mobberley and Matthew Lamb grabbed opportunist goals to add to further Eng and Stricker strikes from the back court as the Vikings tried their best to fight their way back into the contest. Etienne Lisse scored his first Vikings goal from the line position, Eng fired in a couple of penalties and Lamb snatched his second n the rebound, but by the final whistle Manchester’s men had run out clear 32-14 winners.
Next up was the women’s Regional League North match which proved to be a much more evenly matched affair. The two sides traded early goals with right-winger Blessing Ogbee, left-half Emily Bjerk and centre Maren Liane levelling things up after each of Manchester’s strikes. Marlen Slinning Goulty from the penalty line and Marie Brevet from the left wing added further Vikings goals either side of Liane’s second, but despite some typically dogged Newcastle defence the hosts held on to take an 8-6 lead into the break.
The second half, however, quickly turned in Newcastle’s favour as captain Sandra Christke struck from the line position, soon followed by a swift Bjerk hat-trick to put the Vikings ladies ahead for the first time. But it was a solid defensive team performance backed up by an inspired goalkeeping display from Andrea King between the posts to keep Manchester’s attacks at bay that proved to be the match-winning difference between the two sides. Newcastle gradually opened up a four-goal advantage as Slinning Goulty, Liane and Bjerk each scored two more from the back-court with Brevet adding another in between. And by the time the home side netted a couple of late penalties the Vikings had the game won, 15-17 the final score.
Newcastle Vikings men: Daniel Walsh (GK), Mark Harrison (GK), Robert Thompson, Etienne Lisse (1 goal), David Topacho (2), Matthew Lamb (2), Adam Harwood (1), Adam Mobberley (1), Mohamed Fedi Boussema, Jonathan Bastit, Stephan Stricker (2), Julien Eng (5).
Newcastle Vikings women: Andrea King (GK), Marie Brevet (2 goals), Marlen Slinning Goulty (3), Katerina Gibson, Maren Liane (4), Blessing Ogbee (1), Emily Bjerk (6), Sandra Christke (1).