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HC Erlangen succumbs in Berlin after a strong first half

Berlin, 09-01-2019

HC Erlangen lost to Berlin Foxes by 30:23 (11:11) in its first away game of the season. After a strong first half in which the HCE never surrendered the lead and posed tough problems for the top team from Berlin, Erlangen failed to take the points back home to Franconia despite a great fighting display.

The HC’s Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson had to travel to the German capital without Petter Overby, who was suffering from a protracted viral infection, and Martin Murawski. The left winger injured his Achilles tendon in training and will be out of action for several weeks. The win against Stuttgart in the season opener had also not left goalkeeper Nikolas Katsigiannis and the backcourt players Nikolai Link and Antonio Metzner unscathed. All three were laboring under an injury, but nevertheless stepped up to the plate and gave their all for their team from the outset.

The club from Franconia got off to a very good start in its first game on the road in the new season. Firnhaber, Sellin and Florian von Gruchalla put the first goals on the board as the HC soon went 3:0 ahead, also because its defense was outstanding and Carsten Lichtlein was a strong mainstay between the posts. HC Erlangen stamped its mark on the game in the first half, impressing with compact defending and well-structured attacks. The HC was able to score in particular via the crease and wings in this spell. In the 9th minute, the referees punished Sime Ivic for a foul on Paul Drux with the red card. This controversial decision initially threw the visitors off their stride. Trailing by 4:1, the Foxes hit back to tie the score at 5:5. Nevertheless, Erlangen benefited from good work in defense and played out its attacks precisely and with focus. Both teams went in at the break tied at 11:11.

After the restart, the Foxes put four goals in a row past Carsten Lichtlein to surge 15:11 in front. Just three minutes into the second half, Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson needed to talk with his team and so called a timeout. That bore fruit: Before the home side was able to organize itself, Firnhaber buried the ball in the net after a pass from Büdel to make it 15:12. After Erlangen had turned in an outstanding display in defense in the first half, it was now Berlin’s turn to excel in that department. The home side punished every mistake the HCE made in offense by scoring on the counter. The visitors now visibly found it difficult in their slow approach attack to unlock their opponent’s aggressive defense. And when they did find a way through, they were thwarted too often by Dejan Milosavljev, who had a field day between the posts. The Serbian international, who won the Champions League last season with his former club RK Vardar Skopje from Macedonia, saved a total of 16 shots on his home debut. As a result, the HCE trailed by five goals with a quarter of an hour remaining. The team of captain Michael Haaß fought tooth and nail, but could no longer replicate its well-structured play in attack from the first half. The favorites from the capital were able to stretch their lead further as the game went on, pulling 16:12 and then 19:13 ahead. HC Erlangen finally went down by 30:23.

“We turned on a very strong performance in the first half and got off to a very good start. Then the early red card against Sime Ivic threw us off our stride a bit. In the second half, Berlin’s keeper managed to stop us from scoring too often and so we soon slipped behind and didn’t manage to claw our way back,” said the HC’s Head Coach Aðalsteinn Eyjólfsson afterwards.

HC Erlangen faces its next tough game on the road this Thursday, when it travels to the far north for an encounter against the reigning German champions SG Flensburg-Handewitt. The throw-off in the Flens Arena is at 7 p.m.