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MT once again falls to the newly promoted – 25-29 in Erlangen

MT once again falls to the newly promoted – 25-29 in Erlangen

For the second straight matchday in the DKB Handball Bundesliga, MT Melsungen was handed an unexpected loss to a newly promoted team. Following in the wake of its bungled opener against Coburg, the North Hesse squad walked away from Erlangen on Saturday empty handed. After a 15-15 score at half-time, they gathered their bags and headed home as 25-29 losers. Top scorer in Arena Nürnberg (attendance 3,122) was Ole Rahmel (12/3) for Erlangen and Patrik Fahlgren (7).

Alibek Käsler photo: Patrik Fahlgren, top MT scorer, on the way to his seventh goal.

Over the course of the first half, the newly promoted side and last year's fourth place finisher in the Bundesliga looked evenly matched. Unsuprisingly, HC Erlangen and the MT headed into intermission knotted up at 15-15. Just 27 seconds after beginning, newly acquired Stanko Sabljic hurled the ball home to put the hosts ahead 1-0. By the MT quickly equalized on a counterattack by Philipp Müller for 1-1. Soon thereafter Felix Danner underran an errant throw and Isaias Guardiola took advantage to regain the lead. MT keeper Svetislav Verkic was well into the match from the start, laying down an outstanding black against the Spaniard.

MT coach Michael Roth sent out a somewhat surprising starting seven: with Michael Allendorf injured and only able to take part in the warmups, youngster Johannes Golla was inserted in his spot in the 5:1 formation, and also handled left wing duties. Otherwise the lineup was the same as a week ago against Coburg, with Philipp Müller (BL), Patrik Fahlgren (BM), Michael Müller (BR) and Felix Danner (P).

The two teams would go on to exchange heavy blows, sometimes bringing the Franconian side into the lead, at other times the MT. A prime example came between the 10th and 12th minutes, with Erlangen right wing Ole Rahmel leading a counterattack for 6-5, followed by a brace of MT goals to swing the contest to 6-7. Playmaker Fahlgren plowed his way through to the circle before Michael Müller took over for an unstoppable one-on-one manoeuvre.

It was the second — but last — goal by the captain on the night. Almost exactly five minutes later he was shown red by the referees: disqualification due to a foul on Pavel Horak, even if impartial observers felt a simple suspension was more warranted.

The North Hesse side didn't let the loss of their captain drag them down, however, although Erlangen initially tied up the scoreboard via penalty throw (8-8, 17th minute). The red-and-white regained their lead just three minutes later thanks to a Fahlgren strike (9-10, 20th minute). The MT playmaker outduelled keeper Huhnstock. The HCE keeper was having a rough night, so coach Andersson sent Michael Haßferter out to try his luck between the posts. The 21 year old has previously been playing in the Bavaria league and only joined the team on the day of the match after the team's number one keeper, Nikolas Katsigiannis, broke a finger in training. Andersson's gamble paid off quickly, with Haßferter blocking a throw from Johannes Golla from the 6 metre line just shortly after coming on.

MT coach Roth opted for a switch as well, replacing Johannes Sellin with Arjan Haenen at right wing just three minutes before half-time. Two important goals were soon notched by Momir Rnic, first to tie (14-14) and then to put the MT in front (14-15). The last goal in the first period fell to Ole Rahmel, however. The right wing slotted home to switch the scoreboard to 15-15 and raise his own personal tally to an outstanding 9 goals, 3 on penalty throws.

The second half saw the MT's opponent switch to a 5:1 defence, a switch from Erlangen's previous 6:0 formation. The North Hesse side struggled to adjust at first. But the hosts had problems of their own handling the MT's 6:0 alignment. A good piece of play ran without many goals falling. Neither competitor seemed able to seize the upper hand. Unfortunately– from the MT's vantage point – Verkic's replacement in goal Villadsen couldn't match his teammate's strong performance. Young Haßferter for his part missed a Schneider shot from 11 meters.

On 42 minutes things stood at 18-18, at which point the guests seemed poised to move ahead. First Nikolas Link and then Christopher Bissel were each whistled in short succession for two-minute suspensions. Even so, the MT curiously required several attempts before they could knock home a goal. First Sellin missed from a tough angle. Then Fahlgren struggled to maintain control of the ball. Finally a play over the right wing succeeded. Twice in a row, in fact. Was this first two-goal lead (18-20, 44th minute) for the MT — courtesy of Johannes Sellin — the moment when the favourite would take control?

Nope, as soon became clear. Just three minutes later the Erlangen side had equalized at 21-21. What happened? Golla worked up a promising shot at the edge of the zone, but Haßfelter, who seemed to be settling into a groove, blocked the shot. The MT had pulled the keeper in favour of an additional court player, and Guardiola fired into the empty North Hesse net.

With the game clock dwindling and the pressure building from the tight might, the MT then turned the ball over twice in a row on bad throws (Sellin, P. Müller). The hosts by contrast smelled blood in the water and to the cheers of their 3,000 fans drove frantically forward with each possession. By the time Guardiola again took advantage of an empty MT net on 51 minutes followed by a Theilinger strike for 26-22 (52nd minute), the end was clear.

Five further minutes would drain off the clock with neither team producing anything memorable. Verkic returned in place of Villadsen and blocked two Erlanger throws. His teammates were unable to penetrate going forward, however. When one of them did break through, either Haßferter, the post or the crossbar thwarted them. With three minutes left from the end, Timm Schneider was shown red after fouling Jonas Link.
It didn't change the final result. Both teams scored two more goals, leading to a deserved 29-25 win for Erlangen, its first this season in the Bundesliga.

What they said

MT Coach Michael Roth: Now the worst case has occurred — everything we didn't want. It was the continuation of the unconcentrated performance against Coburg. The laxness in the first match of the season really brought us out of our rhythm. At 18-20 we had the chance to expand on the lead, but then for one we lacked the drive from the back, and then for another we were too agitated up front. While our attack worked quite well in the first half, there was simply too little in the second half. We were unable to adjust to the unjustified sending off of Michael Müller and had to fill his position without a backcourt lefty. We are missing key players right now and our team effort is too unstable, even non-existent. We need to accept that we are far away from being an elite team. On Wednesday against the Rhein-Neckar Löwen we're going to be the clear underdog. I expect our players to leave everything they've got on the court in front of the home crowd.

MT President Axel Geerken: This result is an enormous disappointment that has put us into a very difficult situation. Clearly we're missing important players, but it was no different during the pre-season. Nor is it a matter of facing too much pressure. We are absolutely out of sorts, are making simply too many errors on attack — I don't know why. We now need to see how we can get our heads held high again by Wednesday.

HC Erlangen - MT Melsungen 29 - 25 (15 - 15)

HCE: Huhnstock (1 Save), Haßferter (7 S) – Theilinger (1), Link J. (2), Guardiola (4), Haaß (1), Bissel (1), Rahmel (12/3), Horák (2), Link N., Thümmler (4), Sabjic (2) – Coach: Andersson.

MT: Verkic (7 S), Villadsen (3 S) –  Sellin (6/1), Golla, Fahlgren (7), Danner (3), P. Müller (1), Boomhouwer (1), Rnic 3, Schneider 2, Vuckovic, M. Müller 2, Haenen, Backs.  – Coach: Roth.

Referees: Lars Geipel/ Marcus Helbig (Leipzig / Landsberg).

Suspensions: 8 – 6 minutes (Haaß, Bissel, 2x N. Link – Sellin, Danner, Schneider); Disqualifications: M. Müller (17th min., Schneider, 57th mn.)

Penalty throws: 5/4 – 1/1 (Rahmel struck crossbar, 40th mn.)

Attendance: 3,122, Arena Nürnberger Versicherung, Nuremberg

Next MT matches:

We., 14/9/16, 7 pm, MT Melsungen - Rhein-Neckar Löwen, Rothenbach Hall Messe Kassel
Sa., 17/9/16, 7 pm, MT Melsungen - VfL Gummersbach, Rothenbach Hall Messe Kassel

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