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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Salford book Cup semi-final spot

SALFORD booked their spot in the semi finals of the EHA Men’s Cup when they beat Northern Section rivals Liverpool 33-20 on Saturday.

Current league leaders Salford clearly went into the game as favourites, but Liverpool, with the return of their players from England U18 duty, were determined not to let their local rivals have it all their own way. 

The first half of the game got away slowly for both teams. It has been a while since Salford last played a competitive fixture with players being away with GB and England a little bit of rust had set in to the team's cohesion and they struggled to capitalise on their early attacks. 

Indeed, Liverpool's young squad started the better, scoring the first goal of the game and keeping the score to one goal apiece after five minutes. Salford did eventually get into to gear though and took little further time to motor up a bit of a lead.

A strong spell between 5 minutes and 10 minutes saw them take a 5 goal lead at 7 to 2. This prompted a minor come back from Liverpool to bring the scores back to within three before Salford pushed on again to finish the first half ten goals to the good at 17-7.

A ten goal deficit at half time is not something many teams can overcome, especially when playing against one of the strongest defensive units in the league. However, full credit needs to go to the plucky young Liverpool squad. At no point did they give up. Indeed, coming out after half time you could have said they were the more hungry of the teams for victory. 

Whilst the teams swapped goal for goal during the first five minutes of the second half, the second 5 minute period was the mirror opposite of the first half. This time it was Liverpool that outscored Salford by 6 goals to 1 to bring the scores back to within 5. Alas, though, that was the closest Liverpool were to come. 

Taking back control of the game, Salford regrouped and applied a little bit more focus to the job at hand. In doing so they cut out many of the basic errors that had cost them dearly in the first period of the half. 

With just over 20 minutes gone their lead was back up to 10 and by the end of the half Salford had managed to extend their lead to 13 to win by 33 goals to 20.  

Salford will take on Cambridge in the semi finals on May 12/13 after they beat Bath University 35-24. 

* In the English Leagues, Ruislip Eagles convincingly beat Warrington Wolves 38-16 at Birchwood in the women’s First Division, while Olympia beat Thames 37-27. 

The English Men’s League play-offs continue this Sunday with leaders Salford taking on third-placed Ruislip Eagles at SportHouse in Barking on Sunday. 

And on the same day, London GD take on Manchester and Cambridge play Leeds, both at Leyton SCORE Centre.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

England U18 Boys secure historic win

ENGLAND Under-18 boys secured a historic 29-27 victory over Moldova in their final qualifying match of the European Championships in Turkey last week.

Their debut victory came after a superb performance from all members of the team, and left Head Coach Scott Harrington a happy man.

Although a small nation, Moldova are strong in handball and won the senior European Challenge Trophy earlier this year.

But England were not daunted by their final opponents in a three-match group stage to the Under-18 European Championships.

Training camps in Germany and Denmark had paid dividends and the squad held a further preparation camp at SportHouse in Barking, and friendly matches were played with Ruislip Eagles and Newham Flames which ensured the team would go to Turkey full of confidence that they would put on a good show and learn from the experience.

Nervous in the build-up to their match with favourites Iceland, England U18s found the opening ten minutes a struggle but came to terms with their surroundings and were 12 down. The first half performance showed the side still had plenty to learn to replicate the athletic ability of their opposition to perform for 30 minutes.

21-9 down at the break, England battled back in the second half and stemmed the flow of goals somewhat, losing out 38-20.

The hosts Turkey were up next and the crowd were right behind them. The noise was deafening but this only raised the morale of England who lead 8-6 in the first 15 minutes before Turkey dominated the end of the half as England realised again elite athletes must last every minute!

Once again England regularly found the back of the goal, this time on 23 occasions with ten coming from hot prospect Sam Bedlow (16). Ben Tyler (18) marshalled the defence and David Klaening continued to inspire with ten goals in a match they eventually lost only 36-23.

And England raised their game even more for the final match against Moldova, which was tight throughout with no side ever leading by more than two goals.

Team Manager Tom Smith said: “There were nerves and the odd technical error, but when you have squad members coming off the bench for their first taste of the action and scoring from ten metres - as was the case with Daniel Bright - and the desire of Tom Kelsall with his knee heavily strapped, and the new kid on the block Bryn Edwards defying belief of all his team mates with a hip shot into the top left, there was a sense of belief that maybe England could do it.”

England ran out narrow 29-27 winners, with Klaening finishing as top-scorer in that match with six goals, while Bedlow adding five and Clark 4.

Overall in the three matches, Bedlow was top scorer with 20 while Klaening added 19.

Favourites in line for EHA Cup final clash

THE two favourites in the EHA Men’s Cup have been kept apart in the semi final draw made at SportHouse in Barking last weekend, increasing the likelihood that they will play each other in the final.

London GD will play University of Manchester in their semi final on May 12/13, while Salford – who have yet to beat Liverpool in their quarter final – will play the victor from Cambridge v Bath in their semi tie.

The draw was made in the presence of referees and members of the public, while the EHA Men’s Plate semi finals will be Olympia v Manchester and Deva versus either Warwick of Liverpool Speke Garston.

London GD only just reached the semi finals after a tough match against rivals Ruislip Eagles which they won 24-27.

The previous day, Manchester University had cruised into the semi finals with a 31-17 victory over Bristol.

And in the women’s EHA Cup, Ruislip Eagles edged past Olympia 34-26 on Sunday, while Saturday saw London GB beat Warrington Wolves 32-21.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

It's crunch time in EHA Cup

IT’S crunch time in the EHA Cup this weekend, with some crucial matches being played across the country as clubs go in search of silverware.

The EHA Men’s Cup is at the quarter final stage, and the University of Manchester will take on Bristol on Saturday at Sugden Sports Centre in Manchester.

The following day at SportHouse in Barking, Ruislip Eagles and London GD will do battle in a match which is never half-hearted.

In the women’s EHA Cup on Saturday Warrington Wolves will play London GD at Birchwood, while Sunday’s other Women’s Cup match sees Ruislip Eagles play Olympia at SportHouse.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

London GD keep title hopes alive

London GD maintained the push for the Men’s National League title when they beat Leeds Hornets 40-24 at the Greenbank Sports Academy in Liverpool on Sunday.

Second in the table, London GD will need to win their remaining two matches – and hope Salford lose both theirs – if they are to take the 2011-12 title.

Against Leeds, London GD had Juan Carrasco to thank for scoring ten goals, while Phillip Altong chipped in the eight.

Marcin Cwik scored 13 for Leeds, but it was not enough to avoid defeat for a Hornets team who had just the seven bare players for the match.

In other matches, third-placed Ruislip Eagles beat Manchester 31-24 with Christian Nguelo scoring seven goals. For Manchester, Minas Georgiou and Semit Liatouji both scored seven goals, but Manchester couldn’t overhaul their opponents.

Table-topping Salford were given a 10-0 walkover in their clash with Cambridge, who failed to raise a side for the match.

But Salford’s title is far from certain – their final two matches in the play-offs are against second-placed London GD and third-placed Ruislip Eagles.

Veteran Eagles swoop past Thames

INJURY-hit Ruislip Eagles women had to call up the old guard for their clash with Thames on Sunday – but they still managed to secure a 23-18 victory in the English National League clash at Leyton SCORE Centre in London.

Eagles were already without three of their key players to long term injuries, and faced Thames with three further key players missing including their top scorer, Danni Sposi, and influential defender Milli Chebanova. But they knew that if they were to have any chance of retaining the league, they could not lose this vital match.

So coach Mel Chowns stepped out of retirement, Rena Fairbrother and Andrea Szanto stepped up to play a full 60 minutes and Ella Jadeszko returned to cover Chebanova role in defence and the veterans combined well with their younger teammates to pull off an excellent victory.

Ruislip were also determined to give right winger Judit Volgyi a winning send off as she returns home to Hungary.

Ruislip started the better, but were soon pegged back by Thames who were also without key players but had Olimpia Lopes da Veiga in good scoring form.

Half time was a close one-goal lead for Ruislip but they stepped up a gear in the second half and Szanto began to really cause trouble through the centre and Volgyi scored from fast breaks and this ensured a key victory for Ruislip by 23-18. Da Veiga finished with 7 goals for Thames, a total matched by Szanto.

The win leaves the league delicately poised with Great Dane just two points ahead but having played a game more than Ruislip. Significantly, Ruislip’s goal difference is +12 on Great Dane and this could be the deciding factor at the end of the season.