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Erlangen keeps its cool to capture win on the road against VFL Gummersbach

Gummersbach, 04-28-2019

HC Erlangen’s Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson expected a hard fight before the away game at the 16th-placed club in the DKB German Handball League – and it proved to be really hard. The home side, who are threatened with relegation, were literally fighting for survival, yet Michael Haaß and his teammates were not perturbed, fought back from trailing by four goals as their fans spurred them on, and rewarded themselves for their fighting spirit by running out winners by 27:25.

The opening spell was evenly poised. Former Gummersbach player Florian von Gruchalla scored the first goal for Erlangen and directly after that the HC’s captain Michael Haaß tied the encounter at 2:2 with a set shot. The opening minutes confirmed predictions that the home side would defend tenaciously. After neither side gave each other an inch in the first five minutes and the game was tied at 4:4, the home side exploited its extra man to open up a 6:4 gap. The club from Franconia kept on carving out very good chances to score, but were thwarted by a string of saves by the opposing keeper Carsten Lichtlein, who will join HC Erlangen next season. Gummersbach hardly made any mistakes in the opening spell and exploited every gap that opened up for it at the beginning. When the home side threatened to pull away, Eyjólfsson adopted a 5:1 strategy in defense, which enabled the HC to reduce the deficit from 9:13 to 12:14 by half-time.

HC Erlangen was as if transformed when it came back out after the break. Goals by Büdel and Schröder tied the score at 14:14 and, after the lead changed hands several times, Michael Haaß put his side ahead to the cheers of the HC fans who had made the journey (21:20 in the 48th minute). From then on, HC Erlangen no longer let itself be disconcerted. It operated cleverly in attack and only rarely gave the opposing side space in defense. Nikolai Link extended the lead to 22:20 and at the latest by when Florian von Gruchalla, who finished up with a haul of six goals, made it 23:20 with an impressive goal after a pass by Büdel, the around 100 visiting fans were not able to remain seated. Gummersbach again summoned up all it had and switched to open man-to-man covering. However, the goal by Nico Büdel to make it 26:22 with three minutes remaining as good as sealed the encounter. The 3,474 spectators in the Schwalbe Arena finally saw the visitors run out winners by 25:27.

“In the second half we were far more compact in defense and won our duels – that was the key to success. I’m proud of my team’s commanding performance today,” said a happy Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson afterwards.