HC Erlangen went down to a defeat by the top team from Melsungen on Sunday afternoon. In front of 4,108 spectators and with a decimated squad, the team of Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson lost 32:21 in the Rothenbach-Halle arena in Kassel.
As so often this season, Eyjólfsson also had to improvise on the 31st matchday of the DKB German Handball League. The HC was without a total of five players in the game against MT. Apart from Andreas Schröder and European champion Johannes Sellin, pivot Jonas Thümmler (knee problems), Nicolai Theilinger (flu-like infection) and young star Johannes Bayer (broken arm) were missing in North Hesse. Such a thin squad obviously made any endeavor to take one or even both points away from Melsungen quite a bit more difficult.
It was clear from the first half that the home side had resolved to produce a good display in front of its fans. The MT set off at a cracking pace and had pulled 7:4 ahead after five minutes. With his team trailing by four goals after eleven minutes, Eyjólfsson called a timeout. The club from Franconia was only rarely able to break down Melsungen’s offensive 5:1 defense. That was compounded by too many technical mistakes, which the home side, with the class of its individual players, punished clinically – whether on a fast break or six against six. Melsungen’s wingers Reichmann and Allendorf repeatedly got on to the score sheet and led the MT to a seven-goal lead by the break.
The second half began as the first ended. Melsungen’s goalkeeper Simic parried one shot after another and the home side stretched its lead by repeatedly scoring on fast breaks. The next piece of bad news for the HC came in the 34th minute. Jan Schäffer, who had just been called up to the squad, saw the red card after an unfortunate foul on Reichmann and so sat out the rest of the game on the sideline. The HC fans who had made the journey had a sense of foreboding that things would get worse for their team after the loss of Schäffer, and that feeling proved well-founded in the 39th minute, when Arijan Haenen made it 25:15 to leave Erlangen trailing by ten goals for the first time. Yet the team of captain Michael Haaß did not give up and kept on carving out chances in front of Melsungen’s goal. However, Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson’s players were thwarted by Melsungen’s goalkeeper, the Montenegrin international Nebojsa Simic. He impressed with 16 saves, or 43.2% of all shots on goal, and so prevented HC Erlangen from getting back into contention. The star ensemble from Melsungen, in particular its key players and internationals Reichmann and Kühn, made life very tough for the valiant HC Erlangen with its sparse squad right to the final buzzer. Melsungen’s Head Coach Heiko Grimm was able to substitute players repeatedly and so bring on fresh legs. In contrast, the HC’s strength dwindled and it finally went down to a 32:21 defeat.
HC Erlangen’s next task is no easier: It welcomes top-of-the-table Rhine-Neckar Lions, the reigning champions who are dominating the league at the moment, to the ARENA NÜRNBERGER Versicherung on Whitsunday, May 20. The top game against the newly crowned cup winners begins at 3 p.m.