Newcastle Vikings Handball Club’s women opened their England Handball Regional League North title defence with a highly competitive hard-fought 18-19 away win over last season’s runners-up Liverpool at Chester’s Northgate Arena on Sunday.
In an evenly matched first half in which the two teams traded goals throughout, centre Maren Liane opened the scoring before the Merseysiders nudged ahead. Right-half Alina Inta, right-winger Blessing Ogbee, line-player María José González and left-half Rosa Larcy all fired in from close range to level the scoreline at 5-5, before back court players Liane and Inta both struck again with Larcy slotting a penalty shot.
Goalkeeper Andrea King brilliantly saved a Liverpool penalty with her outstretched foot, but could not prevent the hosts from continuing to find their way through the Newcastle defence to level again, and was thankful to captain Sandra Christke-Lamb’s strike from the line position and another Larcy penalty to give the Vikings a narrow 9-10 half-time advantage.
Liverpool came out the more positive at the start of the second half, and despite another Inta goal they quickly opened a four-goal lead as Newcastle failed to take their attacking opportunities. However, backed up by another King penalty save, the Vikings women got their game together and fought back superbly with six unanswered goals from Liane and a double-brace from top-scorer Larcy sandwiching Christke-Lamb’s second to really get the Newcastle players pumped-up going into the closing minutes.
The home side continued their well-practiced attacking plays, with left-winger Judit Radnoti scoring her seventh goal and left-half Marta Tubacka adding her fifth as they sought to level again in a tense finish. But the Vikings defence held firm, with player-coach Marlen Goulty firing a brilliant shot into the top corner over the Liverpool defence at the other end, and Newcastle’s Kafeneon player-of-the-match Liane appropriately rounded off the scoring with her fourth goal to secure the one-goal 18-19 victory.
Newcastle Vikings Handball Club would like to thank Liverpool Handball Club for a great game, with the Merseysiders gracefully acknowledging the close loss as a great advert for women’s handball, played in the correct spirit with some excellent performances. Goulty was pleased with all of the Vikings girls to come back for the win from their opening match of the season, but nevertheless recognised there were clearly a few things to practice on before the next match in two weeks time away to the University of Leeds on 17 November.
Newcastle Vikings: Andrea King (GK), Marie Thompson, Marlen Goulty (1 goal), Katerina Gibson, Rosa Larcy (7), Maren Liane (4), Blessing Ogbee (1), Alina Inta (3), Sandra Christke-Lamb (2), María José González (1).