Tyne & Wear’s under-16 county handball girls put in two much-improved performances in their third round of England Handball North Regional competition matches in Chester on Saturday, running their opposition much closer than in previous outings.
The first league game against Nottingham saw the North East team take an early lead through centre Alexandra Inta’s double and one from half-player Ana Botezatu. Fellow half player Zoe Barber fired a great shot into the top corner, but Nottingham soon levelled things up again. However, youngster Inta broke through to score her third, and with goalkeeper Bryony Coldwell making some good saves at the other end Botezatu added her second and Inta’s fourth put Tyne & Wear 7-5 ahead at half-time.
Nottingham replied with three quick goals at the start of the second half, but Inta and Botezatu soon put the North Easterners back in front. The Midlanders, benefiting from being able to make use of their substitutes, nevertheless edged back ahead as Tyne & Wear began to tire but kept pushing on. Botezatu added a penalty and Barber stole the ball in her own half and dribbled up the court to shoot into the top corner, but despite Inta also scoring a late brace it was not enough as Nottingham ran out 20-13 winners by the final whistle.
The girls’ second league match of the day was due to be against Olympia Cannock, but with them cancelling the girls played a friendly game against the experienced Peninsula side instead. The Merseyside Wirral-based team’s early double was soon replied by Inta, before Peninsula scored a couple of penalties. Botezatu, Inta and a superb first county goal for line-player Tahura Uddin pulled Tyne & Wear back into it, and after another Peninsula penalty Barber’s strike ensured the two sides went into the break level at 5-5.
Botezatu’s hat-trick put Tyne & Wear ahead as the second-half got underway, but several penalties coupled with two-minute suspensions for Inta and Barber let Peninsula regain the advantage. Both players nevertheless came back on to score either side of Botezatu’s fifth, but her sixth from the penalty line proved too little too late as Tyne & Wear fell just short at the end, Peninsula taking the win 14-12.
The Tyne & Wear girls can nevertheless be pleased with their performances, working hard and playing with good team spirit as they improve from tournament to tournament with all players finding scoring opportunities. They now look forward to the fourth round of matches in January confident that they can pick up a deserved first competitive victory.
Tyne & Wear: Bryony Coldwell (GK), Alexandra Inta (10), Esther Moffit, Alice Atkinson, Zoe Barber (4), Tahura Uddin (1), Ana Botezatu (10).