Newcastle Vikings Handball Club suffered a disappointing double defeat at home to the University of Leeds in Saturday’s Regional League North fixtures at the Benfield Centre for Sporting Excellence.
A slow start from the Vikings men’s team saw them go five goals down before a hat-trick of strikes from centre Pablo Docampo eventually got them into the game. Stand-in goalkeeper Matt Lamb neatly saved a Leeds penalty shot between his legs and left-half Frank Smelt added a fourth in a low-scoring first half that ended 4-7 to the Gryphons at the break.
Smelt and Docampo each netted twice more from the back-court as the Vikings sought to narrow the gap early in the second period, before a knock-out shot in the face floored goalkeeper Lamb. That injury reduced the already depleted Newcastle side to just six players with line-player Craig Swanson donning the keeper’s jersey, and Leeds quickly took advantage of the extra player to extend their lead again.
The Vikings continued to fight their hardest at the back with some determined defending characterised by a Kafeneon man-of-the-match effort from left-winger Robert Thompson. Captain Adam Mobberley meanwhile lead by example at the other end with three goals from the right-wing and Docampo took his personal tally up to eight. But even with Lamb bravely returning to the court in the latter stages to resume his position between the posts, the home team were unable to prevent the university side from running out 14-19 winners.
The University of Leeds also took an early lead in the subsequent women’s match, before goals from left-half Judyta Turulska, right-winger Blessing Ogbee and right-half Alina Inta edged the Vikings ladies in front. However, centre Maren Liane was cruelly forced off following an early knee injury, while in defence the home side uncharacteristicly struggled to contain the Gryphons’ attack and Andrea King became the second Newcastle goalkeeper of the day to suffer a Leeds shot in the face. Player-coach Marlen Slinning Goulty nevertheless lead by example at the other end with a back-court treble either side of Inta’s second, but by half-time Leeds had gained a 7-10 advantage.
King’s penalty-save at the start of the second half briefly gave Newcastle some positive hope, but the Gryphons continued to find their way through the home defence. Inta, Turulska and Kafeneon player-of-the-match Goulty each scored twice more for the Vikings, but ultimately it was not enough as Leeds leapfrogged them in the league table with a 13-20 away win.
In a busy afternoon of handball action, the senior league matches were then followed by a mini tournament between Newcastle’s juniors and mini-Vikings players, with over 30 children enjoying a fun series of games with lots of goals and some great teamwork.
Newcastle Vikings men: Matthew Lamb (GK), Robert Thompson, Craig Swanson, Adam Mobberley (3 goals), Mohamed Fedi Boussema, Frank Smelt (3), Pablo Docampo (8).
Newcastle Vikings women: Andrea King (GK), Marlen Slinning Goulty (5 goals), Judyta Turulska (3), Katerina Gibson, Ed Ogbee, Maren Liane, Blessing Ogbee (1), Alina Inta (4), Maria Jose Gonzalez Alvarez.