Newcastle Vikings’ men’s team bounced straight back from cup defeat in London to beat Huddersfield University in a busy weekend of handball action.
Ten players had an early start on Saturday morning, catching the 4.45am train from Newcastle to London to take on the second string team of the well-established London GD handball club in their England Handball League Cup preliminary qualifier in Dagenham.
The match started at high intensity, with solid attack and defence from both teams. Sam Turner and Scott Garrow got the Vikings’ score ticking over with some superb finishes from tight wing positions. Allied to some excellent goals from distance by the back court players and an impressive performance in goal by the returning Mike Cooke, Newcastle remained in touch with the more experienced outfit at half-time, trailing only 14-10.
However, the early start coupled with the greater squad depth of the London team started to tell in the second half, the Vikings conceding several goals to fast break attacks. A change in goal also helped London GD to gain a significant lead, as the tiring Newcastle players struggled to shoot with the power and accuracy needed to beat the classy replacement keeper.
The Londoners ran out comfortable 36-15 winners in the end. But the Vikings can be proud of their performance, particularly standing toe-to-toe with far more experienced players in the first half. The team spirit was fantastic from both sides and the quality of refereeing also made for a really enjoyable contest.
Returning to home territory, the Vikings men were soon back in Northern Development League action on Sunday afternoon for their league encounter with Huddersfield University at South Shields’ Temple Park Leisure Centre. Clearly buoyed by the return to their ranks of several players who couldn’t make the London trip, Jonathan Bastit’s early strike set the ball rolling as the Newcastle side stretched out an early lead that never came under real threat. Four goals apiece from centre Peter Schichtel and winger Simon Heintz, backed up with a hat-trick from Dawid Miozga and Mark Harrison’s strike from the line helped take Newcastle out to a strong 13-6 half-time lead.
Bastit and Miozga further asserted the Vikings’ advantage at the start of the second half, combined with some strong defensive team play and agile goalkeeping from Faisal Albathali. Further goals from Heintz and a Matthew Lamb breakaway brace, before Bastit rounded things off, gave the Vikings a decisive 23-14 victory at the final whistle. The win stretched their unbeaten league run to four games and in the process saw them leapfrog Huddersfield into third place in the league.
Newcastle Vikings (Cup team): Daniel Walsh (GK), Mike Cooke (GK), Florencco ‘Kole’ Viejo-Caballero, Peter Schichtel, Simon Heintz, Scott Garrow, Robert Thompson, Matthew Lamb, Jonathan Bastit, Sam Turner.
Newcastle Vikings (League team): Daniel Walsh (GK), Faisal Albathali (GK), Mike Cooke (GK), Florencco ‘Kole’ Viejo-Caballero, Peter Schichtel (4 goals), Simon Heintz (6), Jason Lee, Mark Harrison (1), Neil Bhandary, Dawid Miozga (5), Jack Woods, Jonathan Bastit (5), Chris Bowe, Matthew Lamb (2), Sam Turner.