Tyne & Wear’s Under-16 county handball girls team showed a huge improvement in their second round of England Handball north regional competition matches over in Chester on Saturday, despite defeats in both their league and friendly games.
They started well in their opening league game against the experienced Shropshire juniors, taking an early lead thanks to Alexandra Inta’s back-court shot after a first minute penalty miss, soon followed by a penalty strike from fellow Romanian Ana Botezatu. Some good defending and fantastic saves from goalkeeper Bryony Coldwell kept the Midlanders at bay before they eventually pulled one back, only for captain Alice Atkinson to fire into the top corner from the left-half position. However, as several players began to miss good scoring opportunities, Shropshire quickly turned the game around to take a 3-6 lead into the break.
Shropshire extended their lead early in the second half, before right-half Zoe Barber broke through the opposition defence to score. But despite their best efforts, Coldwell making some brilliant stops between the posts and two more Botezatu goals at the other end, Tyne & Wear were unable to claw their way back as Shropshire ran out 6-15 winners by the final whistle.
With Nottingham forfeiting their scheduled league game to gift Tyne & Wear a default 10-0 win, the girls then played a friendly match against Staffordshire side Olympia Cannock. Coldwell pulled off big save in the first minute, but was unable to prevent Cannock gradually building up a lead, interspersed with Inta’s hat-trick of goals for the Northeasterners. With other opportunities missed, Cannock were 3-9 up come half-time.
Cannock began the second half with two more goals, but the Tyne & Wear girls continued to push forward in attack with Botezatu and Inta both finding the back of the net. Coldwell made several more great saves at the other end, and as the two sides tired and began to make mistakes the Romanian duo combined for a late breakaway goal which Botezatu netted from the rebound after Inta’s shot hit the Cannock keeper. But it was too little too late with Olympia’s 6-14 win ultimately rounded off with a last-minute penalty.
Coach Marlen Slinning Goulty was nevertheless pleased with how well the Tyne & Wear girls had played. “Really good defence and a massive improvement from the last tournament. Everyone tried to shoot and set each other up. I am really proud of their performance” she said. The girls will now look forward to their third round of matches back in Chester on 9th December.
Tyne & Wear: Bryony Coldwell (GK), Alexandra Inta (5), Esther Moffit, Alice Atkinson (1), Zoe Barber (1), Tahura Uddin, Ana Botezatu (5).