Newcastle Vikings’ men’s team were narrowly beaten 20-17 away to the University of Manchester in Saturday’s England Handball Regional League North fixture.
The Vikings lads took to the court set in the middle of the National Cycling Centre velodrome missing several regular players and with usual winger Matthew Lamb having to don the goalkeeper’s shirt for the first time.
Both teams were nevertheless head-to-head throughout a tight first half, thanks to strong defences and some excellent goalscoring accuracy from the back-court players on both sides. Half-players Fedi Boussema, Frank Smelt and Tom Harrison each found the net twice for the Tynesiders, along with one from centre Adam Batley, as the Vikings dominated the first 20 minutes. Robert Thompson added one from the wing before captain Adam Mobberley’s second penalty took Newcastle into the half-time break just one behind at 11-10.
The second half continued in a similar vein, with Mobberley converting his third penalty of the match and winger Thompson, player-coach Smelt and Kafeneon player of the match Boussema each adding further doubles to their tallies to cap fine personal performances. Lamb meanwhile did a great job between the posts at the other end to keep the university side at bay.
However, in a frustrating final few minutes, the Newcastle lads ran out of steam, picking up a couple of 2-minute suspensions, while Mobberley was unfortunate to be red-carded as former Viking Vlad Cocos went for a fast-break. The Manchester University students grabbed the advantage and pulled away with three quick goals to seal the 20-17 win.
The Vikings men will nevertheless be looking to take the positives of their all-round team performance into next Sunday’s tough English National Cup match at home to National League side Manchester.
Newcastle Vikings: Matthew Lamb (GK), Robert Thompson (3 goals), Adam Batley (1), Thomas Harrison (2), Milan Anilkumar, Adam Mobberley (3), Mohamed Boussema (4), Frank Smelt (4).