The opening month with five DKB Handball league matches has come and gone for MT Melsungen. With only 2:8 points to their credit, their haul was more meagre than desired. October brings the next set of five league matches for the North Hesse side. And with them the chance to close the deficit or even surge into the plus side. Their motto: "Win points, make up ground!" The first encounter in what the club hopes will be a 'golden October' comes on Saturday against Frisch Auf Göppingen. Throw-off in Rothenbach Hall at Messe Kassel is at 7 pm. Tickets are still available at partnering ticket agencies and at the hall's box office, which opens from 5:30 pm.
The hopes were high that things would look completely different right now. Four points in two season openers against newly promoted sides, for example. Taken together with the win against Gummersbach, that would have given the North Hesse club six points to their credit after five matches, even if one concedes defeat against the league's two hottest title contenders Rhein-Neckar Löwen and SG Flensburg-Handewitt.
Göppingen enters as EHF Cup holders
As things stand now, coach Michael Roth's team no longer has any room for error and will need to work all the harder to move from the bottom of the table to the top. Saturday offers their first chance to get started. After VfL Gummersbach, Frisch Auf Göppingen is the next big-name club to travel to Kassel. In the 50-year history of the Bundesliga, the tradition-rich club has been in the top division for 36 of them. The green-and-white claimed the EHF Cup in 2011 and 2012 and with their win again in the spring are now the title holders heading into this year's European competition.
The team under coach Robert Andersson has lived through a season not unlike the MT's. With defeats against Hannover, Kiel and most recently newly promoted Erlangen, they have claimed points "only" in Minden and against Balingen. Current rankings: 4:6 points, 12th place! That is three spots ahead of the MT. That means the match on Saturday in Kassel will be between two competitors "at eye level" (Roth). One former MT ace will now be wearing the opponent's kit. Two-metre-tall Jens Schöngarth switched this off-season from Magdeburg to Göppingen. The lefty wore the "Bartenwetzer" red-and-white from 2009 to 2012.
Everyone but Langhans and Fahlgren back on board
Michael Roth hopes that all his players – excepting Gabor Langhans (knee injury) and Patrik Fahlgren (abdomen pull) – will be available for Saturday. The most recent returnee was Johan Sjöstrand (Käsler photo) who made his season début in Flensburg after two-and-a-half months off from injury. "While he hasn't yet regained his earlier form, it was important for him to get his feet wet. I think he'll round out his form fast", the MT coach believes. In the previous match, against Gummersbach, Michael Allendorf and Marino Maric had also celebrated their comebacks from injury.
"The ten days off from competition helped everyone – even players like Momir Rnic and Felix Danner who were a bit dinged up after the Flensburg match. We had time for regeneration and intensive prep for Göppingen. Now we and our outstanding fans can join together to hope for the next two points", Michael Roth said optimistically before the key match.
No question — making up ground means win on Sunday, or else. But the MT coach also knows: "The league is full of crazy results right now, like the surprise loss by Wetzlar against the BHC, or Hannover against Stuttgart or Göppingen against Erlangen. How a team plays on any given day makes the difference!"
Fans can win 300 euro gift certificate for flights from new MT partner Airport Paderborn.
The MT's new partner Airport Paderborn/Lippstadt will be using the match against Göppingen this Saturday to present itself actively to spectators at Rothenbach Hall. During half-time, fans who have registered in advance on Facebook can win a 300 euro gift certificate for plane tickets as part of a thrilling model airplane competition. The promotion at facebook.com/MT.Melsungen will run through Wednesday.
Extra reward for season ticket holders: Bring a friend!
Owners of a season ticket or subscription can now look forward to an extra reward. Beyond the standard option of receiving one free ticket for a match during the first and second leg, all season ticket holders can bring along a friend to the crucial encounter on 1 October against Frisch Auf Göppingen. The free tickets — naturally in the same category as the season ticket itself — are available starting immediately upon presentation of the season ticket at the MT business offices at Mühlenstr. 14 in Melsungen, at the Fan-Point Kassel at Am Friedrichsplatz 8 and at Sporthaus Solms, Lohfelden, Hauptstr. 49.
Referees in Kassel: Fabian Baumgart / Sascha Wild (Offenburg); DHB Observer: Wolfgang Gremmel.
Previous Bundesliga encounters:
22 matches, 10 wins MT, 12 wins Göppingen
20/4/2016, Frisch Auf Göppingen - MT Melsungen 27-24
11/11/2015, MT Melsungen - Frisch Auf Göppingen 31-21