The Bundesliga pro handball players from MT Melsungen put more than a dozen hard training sessions behind them. After all that hard work, a victory in their second preseason scrimmage was a given. The squad from North Hesse had topped the Oranienburger HC on their way to training camp at the Robinson Club in Göhren-Lebbin on the Fleesensee, and now on the return drive from the Mecklenburg Lakelands celebrated a 37-32 victory over 3rd League side HSV Hamburg. HNA Editor Björn Mahr accompanied the MT throughout their training camp and observed the final scrimmage in the well-attended Alsterdorfer Sporthalle.
Said Roth afterwards: Everything worked out great.
Back in March of this year, Melsungen handball coach Michael Roth and President Axel Geerken paid a visit to the Robinson Club Fleesensee in Göhren-Lebbin. They weren't after a couple of days of spa treatments. No, they wanted to get a feel for the training conditions, rooms and culinary options. After all, an upwardly mobile team like the MT leaves no organisational stone unturned. Especially not when a year earlier in the Swedish town of Ahus not everything ran so smoothly. The food for example was hardly the tastiest: "Coach, we can't stand this stuff."
This time around Roth had only positives to report: "Everything worked out great." For those who hadn't heard yet, the news is clear: new recruits Arjan Haenen and Gabor Langhans are fine matches for the MT squad. "When I talked with people individually, I could tell: Everyone really likes them", Roth reports.
One big benefit of hosting a training camp in the Mecklenburg Lakelands was the short distances. A large fitness studio was just a long keeper's pass away. The clubhouse had enough space for various running drills as well as callisthenics. Physiotherapist Jenny Bajerke — when not busy massaging the tired muscles of the healthy athletes — spent time leading water gymnastics courses in the swimming pool to convalescing Johan Sjöstrand and Marino Maric. The Melsungen troupe left the premises only twice: once in the team bus headed to Malchow, a town five kilometres away, to use their sports hall for throwing drills. And the other time for a team evening, where a barbecue was held on the banks of the Fleesensee. Although no beer was served to the players. For a good reason: a test match against the HSV was scheduled for the next day.
Test Match in Hamburg: Who needs trained pivotmen, anyway?
On paper Bundesliga side Melsungen had enough pivots on its roster: Felix Danner, Marino Maric and young Johannes Golla are all skilled in playing from the close range zone. Yesterday's 37-32 (22-19) win against third Bundesliga club HSV Hamburg showed that Coach Michael Roth has another arrow in his quiver. Timm Schneider, ostensibly a centre back, looked good in the unfamiliar role. His eight goals were second on the team only to left wing Michael Allendorf.
"Timm handled the task well", said Roth, who was forced to make the change for a variety of reasons. Maric is still recovering from a broken foot, while Golla is currently playing in the European Junior Championships in Denmark. Danner for his part had experienced some back pain during training camp and was excused from the match at the Sporthalle Hamburg.
"37 goals are absolutely in order, but 32 goals conceded to a third-league side is definitely far too many", noted MT captain Michael Müller. He and his colleagues were clearly showing fatigue from the hard training sessions they'd just endured. The defence was somewhat too passive, for example. Beyond that, René Villadsen and Maurice Paske handled keeper duties in place of the convalescing Johan Sjöstrand but were unable to match his prowess as the final bulwark.
Even so: Melsungen turned a 17-17 tie into a 21-17 lead shortly before the break and then took things firmly in control after half time. The HSV did make one strong run to close to 30-31. But the 34-31 by Jeffrey Boomhouwer put this match clearly into the MT's victory column. "We were just looking for the win, not a beauty prize", Roth reiterated.
MT: Villadsen, Paske - Allendorf 11/7, Haenen 2, Langhans, Boomhouwer 3, Rnic 1, P. Müller 1, M. Müller 1, Sellin, 2, Schneider 8, Vuckovic 5, Fahlgren 3, Backs, Grolla.
(Björn Mahr, HNA, 1/8/16)
Lindin Cup matches starting Wednesday
After a brief regeneration phase on Monday, strength and endurance training back in their home town are then on the docket. Thursday, however, will see the next test against a challenging opponent. That's when the Linden Cup is scheduled to start, with the MT facing off against clubs like Wetzlar and Magdeburg.