Up and down weekend for Cambridge Handball Club in their trip to West and North London
An up and down weekend for the Cambridge Handball sides; the women’s side once again succumbed to defeat amidst depleted numbers but there were still many positives to be drawn from their performance, whilst the men’s side dominated for the majority of their game but a crazy final few minutes saw them agonisingly slip to defeat.
Chelsea 32 – 15 Cambridge Women’s – Premier Handball League South:
An improved display from the women’s side at Gunnersbury Park Sports Centre, despite once again being limited to seven players due to absences, one of which being Grace Cappell, away with the GB women’s senior side in Macedonia.
This was compounded by the Chelsea team having double the numbers and double the rotation power, whilst the Cambridge seven had to fight through every minute in a six-pointer at the foot of the Premier Handball League South.
It was not the start the team would have wanted from the game, with several mistakes in attack providing too many opportunities for the Chelsea players to fast break, meaning the home team quickly established a lead, and it was not until the eighth minute before Cambridge made their mark on the game through Viki Takacs, stepping up her return from injury.
However, another treatment-table absentee that returned for this week’s game was Sadie Kirk, and her presence at centre helped to establish some order for the women’s side and enhance the attack, although the team will be have rued the missed chances presented in the early exchanges.
Coach Jandro Garcia Costa took an early time out at the tenth minute to give the team a pep talk and a chance to restructure, which ended up bearing fruit through Kirk’s movement at centre enabling Agnes Foeglein to steam past last week’s goal tally, hitting the back of the net three times in the first half.
Takacs added two more to her total in the first period, as well as another injury-returner Martyna Dziedzic getting in on the action before the interval, with the communication as a team much improved after Garcia’s time out.
Lucy Roe in goal helped to keep Chelsea’s total down, making some pivotal saves to leave the halftime scoreline at 19-7.
The cohesiveness was further enhanced in the second half with the defence improving even further to limit Chelsea’s opportunities despite their superior numbers.
The improvements continued with the offense, with last week’s player of the match Sam Yun Yap getting in on the action from the left wing, chipping in twice after Takacs had scored the first goal of the second half.
Kirk was also rewarded for her efforts at the middle of the court midway through the second period, and Foeglein continued to wreak havoc on the Chelsea defenders at six metres, adding another three to her match total.
And whilst the defence did reduce the home side’s efficiency, limiting them to 13 goals after the interval, Chelsea’s greater squad numbers eventually paid dividends, with Rania Montalbetti adding three in the second half to her three in the first in a player of the match winning performance.
Yap had the final say for Cambridge at the end of the second period, with the final score being 32 -15.
Cambridge will take the positives from the game in having put on a solid performance with minimal numbers; they will return to the same venue to face last year’s cup winners West London Eagles on Saturday, December 9.
Player of the match: Agnes Foeglein.
Islington II 32 – 30 Cambridge Men’s – Regional Handball League South 1
A frustrating afternoon at London Metrpolitan University for the men's side in a game that they led up into the final two minutes, as a lack of composure saw Islington 2 come back to take the game 32-30.
The opening exchanges were a cagey affair as both sides sought to assert their dominance on the game, however Cambridge's strength came through and they began to dictate the play.
The returning Oscar Castaigne, a product of the Cambridge youth teams, was a welcome addition at right back in the absence of Toby Barber; alongside Kevin Guy at centre, their connection with Will Luckhurst at line opened up a lead for Cambridge.
Himself and Guy contributed the first goals for the men's side - Luckhurst with three and Guy with one - but equally dominant was Daniel Shackleford for Islington 2, with him solely responsible for the home team's opening four goals.
It was after this that Cambridge asserted control, with a goal at each wing from Ross Waldron and Pedro Albuquerque as well as last week's player of the match Ayman Said chipping in from centre, causing the Islington coach to take an early time out at nine minutes.
After the stoppage the goals continued to flow for Cambridge, starting from the wings as George Browsell hit the top corner from the left and Waldron added another from a fast break.
Theo Miani and Vykintas Stuckis got in on the act also, however some sloppy defending allowed Islington to get back into the game and ensured it remained around a two goal gap for the rest of the half.
The Islington defence became increasingly lax in the wake of a dynamic Cambridge attack; three penalties came in quick succession and Stuckis duly put every one away, despite himself coming off badly in a foul that led to the third shot from seven metres.
The close of the first half saw a more level playing field as Islington's composure returned, but a further two goals from Stuckis as well as Castaigne meant it was 16-18 to Cambridge at the interval.
Coach Agnes Foeglein was happy with the defensive performance, however she said the attack was too erratic and that the team needed to be calmer in offence to build upon their lead.
And build it they did; Miani came in with another goal from wing and Guy added a quickfire hat-trick from centre to send the home team into arrears, with the Islington coach again taking an early time out seven minutes after the break.
Albuquerque contributed with a sumptuous goal from wing to further extend Cambridge's lead, waiting for the Islington keeper to approach before rolling it out of the top of his fingers, executing an incredibly aesthetic lob.
Islington however remained in the game and Henry Kennard slotted three into George Goddard's net in a row.
By no means did Goddard put on a sloppy show however; the second half saw some incredible saves from the returning keeper, including a penalty save that drew some intense frustration from the home team.
Castaigne's dynamic performance at right back, in the face of some overly aggressive defence from Islington which saw him momentarily leave the pitch due to a nosebleed, was rewarded in the final minutes as he added three goals to the scoresheet, alongside goals from Jacob Allard at line and another from Said at centre.
But the final two minutes was where the game was lost by Cambridge; it started with a questionable two-minute suspension for Allard that was compounded by Stuckis instinctively going to intercept a ball that was presented to him, however as it came from an Islington free throw he also had to depart the court.
This left four players outfield for Cambridge, upon which Islington capitalised; four goals in the final minute for the home side meant the final score read 32-30.
Improved composure will be required for the men's side when they visit Stratford Park Leaisure Centre to play Bristol on Saturday, December 2.
Player of the match: Oscar Castaigne.
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