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MT opens Heide Cup run with victory

Opening win for MT Melsungen: the team from North Hesse opened the international Heide Cup tournament on Friday afternoon with a 39-28 (22-11) victory against the HSV Hamburg. After a one-sided first half during which the MT highlighted the weaknesses in the 3rd Bundesliga opponent's game, the second half was more evenly matched. Michael Allendorf (9) and Felix Mehrkens (6) finished as top scorers.

For MT Melsungen and HSV Hamburg, this was the second encounter in just three weeks. During the season opener for the third Bundesliga team in late July, the two teams had played largely even, although the 1st Bundesliga squad ultimately finished with a five-goal cushion. This time the match quickly tilted in the Hesse team's favour. After an initial 1-1 (3rd minute) by Lukas Ossenkopp, MT Melsungen celebrated a brace of goals by Michael Allendorf to make things 3-1 (5th minute), and went on from there to extend the lead.

As was the case two weeks ago, a noticeable gap emerged in the conditioning and dynamic playmaking of the two teams. The MT were simply physically superior to the Hamburg team, pushing forward effectively from the backcourt. The North Hesse team once again moved the ball smoothly, preventing its 3rd League opponent from getting into their preferred high-tempo attack and thwarting them with a highly compact defence. While Jan Torben Ehlers closed the lead to 4-6 on ten minutes with a lovely throw from the backcourt, just minutes later Jens Häusler was forced to request a time-out after the deficit had grown to 4-8.

The Hamburgers returned from that breather with more concentration and aggressiveness on defence, quickly earning a turnover. The performance gap between a recently promoted 3rd Bundesliga crew and an EHF Cup qualifier soon became clear — including a fluttering ball from Michael Müller that moved things up to 9-6 (14th minute). His physically overmatched defender had no chance against Müller's dynamic play. The MT widened its lead with team, including stops at 13-7 (19th minute) and 18-8 (25th). The HSV struggled to organise its attack effectively, as evidenced by the half-time score of 22-11.

The second half started with a brace of goals by Jonathan Papirow, who put his shots past freshly inserted keeper Svetislav Verkic. The newcomer to the MT Melsungen roster soon proved his mettle by parrying a seven meter throw. MT coach Michael Roth inserted new faces not just in goal, but also on the court: newly acquired Gabor Langhans and Arjan Haenen were doled portions of playing time, as was youngster Johannes Golla. The Junior National Team member had already received some first-half time playing in the centre block, and now he was sent forward on offence — and repaid his coach's trust with a strike for 24-17 (38th minute).

Melsungen emerged from the half a bit sluggish, while their opponent from Hamburg moved with refreshed energy. After the HSV tightened things to 17/23, Roth called for an early time-out. His message to the team was short and clear. The team responded, building and maintaining a seven- to nine-goal lead, but even so the strong structure of their first half play had vanished and the HSV scored a number of breakaway goals. Dominik Plaue in the Hamburger goal also made several lovely saves.

Roughly ten minutes before the final whistle, a strike by Jeffrey Boomhouwer put the MT in front 33-25. With all question of the final victor settled, the teams began to test some strategic variants, including using extra court players without a goalkeeper designation shift — a tactical measure that had been used several times throughout the match. The exclamation point for the match came from Jan Forstbauer, a former Melsungen player, to wrap things up at 39-28.

On Saturday at 12:30 pm, MT Melsungen will play vs. Handball Club Motor Zaporozhye (UKR).

Fixtures on Sunday 14/8/16:
12:30 pm Match for 5th place
(5th place team vs 6th place team)
3:00 pm Match for 3rd place
(3rd place team vs 4th place team)
5:30 pm HEIDE CUP 2016 final
(1st place team vs 2nd place team)

Click here to visit the homepage of the Heide Cup.

(Report: handball-world.com / Photo: MT-Trommler)

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