The English Korfball Association Cup finals day saw some extremely close and challenging matches.
The day started with the two semi-finals from the English Korfball Association Cup competition.
In the first semi-final Trojans (London) took on Mitcham 2 (London). If anyone thought that Trojans would have an easy game of it, they were mistaken, as there was never more than 2 goals seperating the teams. Trojans went ahead with the first goal, only for Mitcham to equalise, and that set the tone for the rest of the match really. Trojans went ahead by 2 goals a couple of times in the first half, but couldn't break away, and Mitcham always pegged them back. At half time the score was 6-4 to Trojans, but it was impossible to predict who would get that Cup final place. Shortly into the Second half, Mitcham were back on level pegging, at 6-6, and then they went ahead for the first time in the match, only for Trojans to bring it back to 7-7. Mitcham went ahead again, but not for long, as Trojans then scored to level at 8-8 and then scored two more to give them a slight cushion. Mitcham brought it back to a one goal lead yet again, but it wasn't quite enough as Trojans scored the last goal of the game, to win 11-9.
In the second semi-final Nomads (London) took on the Mitcham first team. It was Nomads who were quickest off the blocks, scoring first, but Mitcham responded with 8 goals without reply. Nomads heads didn't drop though, and they continued to battle, securing 4 of the next 5 goals, to go into half time only 5-9 down. At the start of the 2nd half, Nomads continued in the same vein, securing 2 of the next 3 goals. The strength of the Mitcham team began to tell though, as they found their shooting boots and notched up 4 goals in a row (7-15). Again Nomads rallied and scoring 3 goals to Mitcham's 2, to bring the final score to 10-17. A confident performance by the Mitcham side to take them into the Final, but also a strong performance by the Nomads side, which will surely give them a boost prior to their EKA National League Premier Division relegation playoff match against Kingfisher in May.
Seperating the Cup Semi-Finals from the 3rd/4th playoff and final, was the EKA National League First Division playoff match between last placed team Supernova (London) and National League hopefulls Highbury (London). The winner of this match would get the all important invite to participate in the new EKA South East Regional League next season, which replaces this season's National League First Division.
Many were anticipating a close and exciting match, given the recent success of Highbury in overcoming Tornadoes (Kent) the previous week, coupled with their performance in the London Area Premier Division, which they won without dropping a point.
The start of the match was dominated by both teams' defence, as they pushed out on the attackers, preventing good shots from being taken and disrupting play with interceptions, and rebounds. 20 minutes into the match, there was still no score on the board, from either side; a surprise given the shooting capabilities of both teams. Supernova eventually broke the deadlock, scoring the first goal of the game, which seemed to give them confidence, and to take confidence away from Highbury. Supernova went on to score 2 more, to give them a 3 goal lead going into half time. The second half certainly saw more goals being scored, and saw Highbury gain a little of their momemtum, but it was just too little too late, and they couldn't seem to find the flow and movement that had seen them through the season. Supernova continued to push in defence, and to use their experience to find gaps and score goals. They scored 5 in the second half, to Highbury's 3, giving a full time scoe of 8-3, which means Supernova retain their place in the Division.
The EKA Cup 3rd/4th play off saw Nomads compete against the Mitcham 2nd team. The match started cautiously, with neither team scoring freely. Although Mitcham scored the first 2 goals, Nomads fought back, and at half time it was 5-3 to them. The second half was a slightly different affair, with more goals being scored by both teams. Whatever was said to the Mitcham team at half time it certainly worked, as they came out and scored 6 goals in a row, all from open play. Nomads would not give up though, and they brought the score back to within 2, before Mitcham pulled away again. The superior scoring ability of Mitcham made the difference in the end, and after 60 minutes, it was 15-11 to them.
And so to the final. Trojans had won the EKA National League title, from Mitcham, in the last game of the season, so this match was always going to be a tense and hard fought affair. Trojans were looking to do the "double" and Mitcham were looking for revenge for the League defeat. The match didn't let the spectators down, going first one way, then the other, first Trojans in front, then Mitcham clawing the goals back, only for the lead to swap again. Trojans scored first, Mitcham equalised, Trojans went ahead again, but Mitcham brought it back, Trojans went ahead by 2, Mitcham first equalised, then went ahead by one. Half time was 7-6 to Mitcham, but neither team was giving anything away, pushing out in defence, working the block to get the rebound, fighting for every inch of space, and every opportunity to put the ball in the basket. Mitcham's half time talk must have worked well again, as they quickly scored 2 after the restart to put them 3 ahead, the biggest margin of the match so far. Trojans were not here to play second fiddle though, they were here to win that trophy, and they scored 4 without reply, to snatch the lead. Mitcham weren't to be outdone though, they equalised at 10-10 and it was neck and neck. This was crunch time. Trojans scored the next goal, and didn't look back, from then they didn't lose the lead again, and despite the best efforts of Mitcham, Trojans ran out 16-13 winners to claim both the EKA Cup and the EKA National League Titles, for the first time in their club's history. Congratulations to them.
And thanks to the referees and linesmen, without whom todays matches wouldn't have been possible.
photos Janos Schmidt