Loughborough Men 11-10 Coventry Men
Usually Handball is a game characterised by high-scoring encounters. However, this match was anything but the dull encounter that the scoreline might suggest. We started the match in great form, racing into a 2-0 lead in no time at all, but any thoughts we might have had that this would be an easy match were quickly dashed as Loughborough mounted a strong response. Nevertheless, we were slightly disappointed to find ourselves going in at half-time level at 6-6. What followed immediately after the restart did not make pleasant viewing. Frustrations started to build amongst our side that things were not going our way, and Loughborough capitalised on this to great effect to pull ahead to 9-6 with around 10 minutes remaining. We took a time-out to regroup, which had exactly the desired effect, as we stormed back into the match to take a 10-9 lead. However, we twice had opportunities to close out the game in the final minutes and twice failed to do so. Loughborough again took full advantage, equalising and then regaining the lead with roughly 15 seconds to go. This proved too short a period of time for us to equalise, and so we came up short by the odd goal in 21.
Following the game, we have to remind ourselves that this was a friendly, and ultimately the most important thing is not the result but gaining experiences that will make us a better team in the long-run. One thing I’m hoping that all of the guys take from the match was the importance of controlled aggression. Aggression is necessary in Handball, but as we discovered to our cost yesterday it becomes detrimental if that boils over. Not only does it increase your chances of falling foul of refereeing decisions, but it also affects your ability to execute your skills and choose the right options in attack and defence. Far too many attacks were squandered due to wayward shots or misplaced passes born out of frustration. The fact that when we calmed down and concentrated on executing the plans we had been working on in training we launched a strong comeback should provide as much evidence as is needed of the value of controlling your aggression.
That comeback was probably the greatest positive to draw from the match, and it was also good to give a few guys there Coventry Handball Club debuts. Thankfully we have an immediate opportunity to put things right against Warwick next Sunday in our first home match.
Loughborough Women 16-14 Coventry Women
Two games played, two narrow defeats. However, given the circumstances of the game, we couldn’t have been more proud of the performance our girls put in. Some of the girls had never met before yesterday morning, and for most of them this was their first experience of playing an (almost) full-length Handball match (we played 25 minutes per half rather than the usual 30). Added to the fact that there was very limited opportunity prior to the match to work on tactics with what was an inexperienced, scratch team, to come so close against a well-organised Loughborough side was a particularly valiant effort. Our girls also had the handicap of no substitutes, which whilst helping continuity made the physical challenge particular daunting. Therefore for our girls to have actually won the second half, when in theory the tired legs should have started to show, was a fantastic achievement.
Performances like this make us even more determined to make the women’s sessions a success. With more regular practice together, working on the core individual and team skills, and a few more players to allow us to make substitutions, and the two-goal defeat could have easily have been a win. Therefore we’re really excited ahead of Wednesday’s women’s session (17:30-18:30 at Coventry Sports Centre, Courts 5-10) to start building on that first performance and start to form a highly competitive women’s team.
Thanks once again to Loughborough for providing us with two really close-fought matches which hopefully will prove hugely beneficial in the development of both clubs. We’re looking forward to arranging return fixtures next year!