Newcastle Vikings Handball Club’s women’s team were left frustratingly despondent after seeing Manchester snatch a late 22-23 win in their opening match of the England Handball North Regional Development League season, as their male counterparts also saw an early lead overturned.
Playing in front of good crowd of spectators at Temple Park Leisure Centre in South Shields, half players Judyta Turulska and Alina Inta got the Vikings ladies off to a bright start with an early brace and hat-trick respectively as the home side built a strong lead. It was one they were to maintain throughout most of the match, as tight defence was complemented by further goals from captain Sandra Christke from the line position, winger Blessing Ogbee and a brace each from player-coach Marlen Slinning and centre Sina Linsenmann either side of a further Inta double saw Newcastle ease to a 14-10 half-time advantage.
The second half began in similar vein to the first with two Turulska strikes as the well-matched teams traded goals, with Slinning, Inta and Ogbee also each adding to their first half tallies. Manchester narrowed the gap briefly, only for Newcastle to regain their 4-goal advantage through Slinning and Turulska.
But once again the away side clawed their way back, and this time it was to prove decisive. The Vikings were unable to make the most of a two-minute suspension to break through a depleted but solidly resolute Manchester defence line, before the scores were eventually levelled at 21-21. Manchester then went ahead for the first time in the dying minutes, and while Christke pulled one back it was to be so near yet so far for the Vikings as an enthralling contest ended 22-23 at the final whistle.
Newcastle’s men also got off to a great start in their ensuing encounter. Centre Peter Schichtel got the ball rolling with two early goals either side of an Athbi Almarzouq strike from the half position, before winger Wiktor Laczny fired in four quick-fire goals to help the Vikings stretch out an early lead. But Manchester soon found their attacking rhythm as eight first-half Manuel Lane strikes – out of a personal 12-goal match tally – almost single-handedly pulled the away team back and into the lead. Further Schichtel and Almarzouq braces plus Laczny and Gracjan Joppek goals nevertheless kept the home side in the running, Newcastle going into the half-time break 13-14 behind.
However, the Vikings were unable to keep apace during the second half, and despite Laczny taking his own goals tally to eight and further strikes from Almarzouq and Schichtel, Manchester extended their lead to record a 18-22 away win.
Newcastle Vikings women: Andrea King (GK), Marlen Slinning (4 goals), Judyta Turulska (6), Krystina Coulson, Sina Linsenmann (2), Blessing Ogbee (2), Kathryn Powell, Alina Inta (6), Sandra Christke (2).
Newcastle Vikings men: Daniel Walsh (GK), Robert Thompson, Athbi Almarzouq (4 goals), Gracjan Joppek (1), Craig Swanson, Sam Turner, Kasper Ottosen, Jonathan Bastit, Wiktor Laczny (8), James Porter, Holger Schultz, Peter Schichtel (5).