FTC in control after shaky start
February 27, 2017
MATCH OF THE WEEK – GROUP 1 – FTC had some problems in the opening phase against a well organized Metz defense, but once they got their game going, they cruised to another win at home.
By Peter Bruun
FTC-Rail Cargo Hungaria (HUN) vs Metz Handball (FRA) 29:23 (15:10)
Before the Match
FTC were second in Group 1 (11 points), two fewer than group leader, HC Vardar.
Metz found themselves in fourth position on six points, trailing Buducnost by two but before fifth ranked Thuringer HC.
The French champion were not only looking for further advancement in the group but also avenging a 28:25 defeat at home in the first meeting between the two teams.
It took FTC some time to get their offense going against a well prepared and well defending Metz squad. A 3:2 lead for the visitors after 10 minutes, was hardly indicative of FTC scoring nearly 30 goals in the end.
However, after spending a quarter of an hour adjusting their game, the Hungarians left no doubt which team would dominate the rest of the match.
It did not begin as a high-scoring affair.
In fact, it took more than three minutes, before Metz´s German left-back Xenia Smets scored the first goals. FTC had to wait another two and half minutes when Zita Szucsanski scored for the first time.
It was not that the two teams were trying to put points on the board. However, it seemed as if both sides were playing faster than they actually could.
A strong Metz defense presented yet another obstacle. Each time, FTC’s players saw a gap, it was closed before they could benefit from it.
As a result, Metz were in the lead (3:2) after 10 minutes. When Nera Pena took the position of Dora Hornyak things improved considerably.
The Spanish playmaker got the game flowing and represented a constant threat. She can take credit for changing a FTC 5:6 deficit in the middle of the half, into a 10:6 lead, which subsequently increased to 13:7 and 15:9.
Now, FTC had their game going even without Nerea Pena on the floor – surprisingly she spent the entire second half on the bench.
In Pena’s place, Zita Szucsanski took over as the organizer of the hosts´attack – successfully.
FTC increased their lead to seven goals (23:16) and Metz tried playing seven-against-six, but without yielding the desired results.
In the last 10 minutes – in fact the match was decided – intensity dropped a notch, while FTC were holding on to a clear lead.
Player of the Match
For the second FTC match in succession, I hand the award to Zita Szucsanski.
In the first half, Nerea Pena was heading in the right direction to receive the honors, but as she spent the second half watching from the sidelines, and since Szucsanski did so well most of the time, she gets the acknowledgement.
Of course, it helps that she was the highest scoring player together with her teammate, Nadine Schatzl, both with six goals.
FTC defended second place in their group and proved once again that they are a team to be reckoned with as a FINAL4 candidate.
The match was further proof of the deep squad, Gabor Elek, has at his disposal.
To Metz, the defeat was without consequence with regards to reaching the quarter-finals, considering Thuringer HC´s defeat in Astrakhan (see below).
Astrakhanochka earned their first points in the main round, defeating Thuringer HC 26:24.
Sunday, HC Vardar will try to protect home court against Buducnost.