Was this the much-anticipated breakthrough? MT Melsungen celebrated more than just a clear 37:25 (18:12) victory against TVB 1898 Stuttgart. They truly impressed in all aspects of the game before 4,018 enthusiastic spectators at Kassel's Rothenbach Hall. Drawing on strong performance by keeper Johan Sjöstrand and red-hot Johannes Sellin (16 goals), the North Hesse side needed only a few minutes to get into gear and leave the guests far behind. The top scorer for the TVB was Bobby Schagen, with nine goals, five of them seven meter throws.
The MT's training room had emptied out significantly in recent weeks, but the streak was broken when René Villadsen and Jeffrey Boomhouwer joined the rolls of the injured. They joined Gabor Langhans as spectators on the bench. Backups for Langhans and Villadsen were already lined up in the form of Svetislav Verkic and Dener Jaanimaa, but Michael Allendorf was left alone on the left wing.
Everyone understood that the recent poor start to the season (4:10 points on the table) had been dragging on the MT. The question was: would they climb out of the hole, or dig deeper. And in fact the team from Melsungen did look tense in the initial moments of the match, although the defence and keeper Johan Sjöstrand were ready and alert from the start. The result: after a brief lead thanks to Momir Rnic, little else ran smoothly for the hosts, whereas the Stuttgarters used goals by Dominik Weiß and Tobias Schimmelbauer to seize the initiative (1:2, 6th).
The wake-up call for the red & white was delivered by Johannes Sellin, who coolly converted a seven meter throw against Johannes Bitter, followed by a fine counterattack goal to retake the lead. What followed was a masterpiece by Sellin, with the right wing hitting from almost all positions, including one tough empty net goal thrown from his own backcourt as Bitter had been pulled in favour of a court player (9:4, 14th).
The Stuttgarters managed to right their ship a bit after that slap and kept to just three our four goals behind. They were lucky that a nasty foul by Teo Coric on Michael Allendorf brought only a suspension and not a red card (22nd). Allendorf quickly took revenge with a brace of goals to bring the score to 13:8 (24th), roughly the previous lead. The MT grew that lead by the half on the strength of Sellin's insatiable hunger for goals, including his second throw into an empty net. At intermission he counted 10 goals on just eleven attempts.
Sellin's second miss came immediately after intermission, but his eleventh hit followed shortly thereafter. At that point the Melsungen play began to bog down a bit, with Johannes Bitter making two impressive blocks and his attackers hitting their throws. The momentum was now with the guests, who ultimately proved unable to capitalize. Once more than MT express began rolling — better late than never. Even Johan Sjöstrand had a chance to get in on the scoring (21:15, 35th).
Once it became clear that victory had been secured, highlight reel plays and individual tricks began to appear. These included extra-special teamwork by the Müller twins, with Michael serving up a 'Kempa' pass to his brother, who was already in the air and hit for 23:16 (38th) or three quick goals in succession from the six meter line by the freshly inserted Johannes Golla for 28:19 (44th). Sellin continued working hard to finish up his dominant performance strong, hitting for 30:20, the first double-digit lead, with his 13th goal (46th).
For long stretches the match was highly one-sided, with the Swabian guests unable to catch their breath. Yet there was no sense of surrender. They continued scrapping to try and penetrate the strong MT coverage, led by fine blocks from young backcourt player Golla. Coach Michael Roth began substituting, sending Dener Jaanimaa in to put his name on the list of goal scorers. The final shot belonged to the man who finished up with a heady 16 scores: Johannes Sellin converted "Kempa" alley-oop passes from Michael Allendorf and Nenad Vuckovic, although the latter goal was disallowed because he was ruled to have stepped in the goal area. The final whistle brought celebration from fans and players alike, rocking the Rothenbach Hall like seldom seen before in recognition of a formidable performance.
What they said
Michael Roth: I'm satisfied with the win. We dug deep to do what was needed. Our strong defence got us going in the match. On the whole we only suffered five technical errors. Pushing forward, we produced a lot of pressure from the inner backcourt positions, which is one of the things you need to win big. I like the fact that we didn't let down in the second half, even when new players were substituted in. Dener Jaanimaa did a fine job, and so too did our youngster Johannes Golla in particular. His performance in practice earned him playing time, and he played a great match.
Markus Baur: Congratulations to Michael and the MT on a well-deserved win. We had the best laid plans for this match and thought that the MT might struggle to find their form against us as well. That's not how it happened. They had the necessary presence on offence and power on defence to best us this time. We also conceded 21 goals from the outside. Many of those came off fast breaks, but they were in a position to do that because we allowed them to up front. My team didn't have much to give today. This kind of loss certainly hurts. Less than last week against Magdeburg, though.
Axel Geerken: I had a great time today and hope our players did too. It's always more fun to win than lose. Today we saw a little bit of everything that's been lacking this season. Nevertheless we shouldn't overstate what's been accomplished either. But if we can bottle it, we'll bring in a few more points this October. It was also outstanding that more than 4,000 people were on hand, despite our previous poor performances. That's sensational, thank you!
Günter Schweikardt: Our performance this season has been good to date and we're generally pleased with the development of the team. But one thing was clear today. We saw a super performance by the MT and we couldn't keep up.
MT Melsungen: Sjöstrand (1 goal, 13 saves / 21 goals allowed), Verkic (2 saves / 4 goals allowed); Maric 1, Sellin 16/2, Golla 3, Fahlgren 1, Danner, P. Müller 1, Rnic 3, Schneider, Allendorf 5/1, Vuckovic 3, Jaanimaa 1, M. Müller 2, Haenen.
TVB 1898: Jerkovic (3 saves / 12 goals allowed), Bitter (7 saves / 25 goals allowed.); Schimmelbauer 2, Lobedank 1, Weiß 5, Schagen 9/5, Schweikardt 1, Kraus, M’Bengue 2, Coric, Baumgarten 2, Kretschmer 1, Orlowski, Celebi 2.
Referee: Christian vom Dorff / Fabian vom Dorff (Kaarst)
Penalties: 4 – 4 minutes (Rnic 15:44, P. Müller 40:22 – Coric 21:25, Weiß 33:35)
Penalty throws: 4/3 – 5/5 (Sellin over the goal 41:15)
Attendance: 4.018 in Rothenbach Hall, Kassel
Sa., 22/10/2016, 7 pm: TBV Lemgo – MT Melsungen, Lipperlandhalle Lemgo
We., 26/10/2016, 7pm: GWD Minden – MT Melsungen (DHB Cup), Kampa-Halle Minden
Sa., 29/10/2016, 7 pm: MT Melsungen – GWD Minden, Rothenbach-Halle Kassel