The second game of the 2015-16 season took place at The Greenbank Sports Centre, a week after victory over Loughborough and here was another university team prepared to take on one of the historically great names in British Handball.
Thoughts may have been of evening ‘trick or treating’, ghosts, ghouls and all things horrifying, but a hideous start to this game saw Coventry race into a 4 – 0 lead. This was all ‘Hammer House of Horror’ for everyone concerned with Liverpool. The rampant start by Coventry was halted temporarily by Beremeyer’s first of his 9 goal tally.
With Tilly sustaining an ankle injury after 10 minutes, we saw Kelvin Malone launched into the fray. Sadly short of training and match practice, Malone’s early attempts at goal carried all the power of an exploding Cheesy Wotsit. Lots of endeavour from Liverpool and some erratic refereeing did nothing to ease the concerns of the Liverpool bench and coach. After 13 minutes Coventry had stretched the lead to 7 – 1 and then we saw a period of parity with both teams swapping goals until at 11 -6 Coventry changed gear. A flurry of goals from fast breaks and basic cross-overs saw the lead increase. Liverpool were unable to make any headway against a strong defence and even when down to 5 men Coventry repelled attacks and scored against superior numbers.
An enforced time out occurred when timekeeping and scoreboard officials became engaged in a heated confrontation with the Coventry coach and players. A rare moment of passion from ex-players, who should know better. With the game restarted Coventry carried on their impressive display and finished the half leading 18 – 9.
The first half saw only 3 Liverpool players score and the load was being carried in the main by Beremeyer, although the impressive Brandt and Hughes also contributed.
The second half saw Liverpool score first and looking a more cohesive unit until Coventry cranked up the pressure and within 5 minutes the score line reached 22 – 11. In the Liverpool goal Eckersall produced a string of good saves but these efforts were sadly in vain. A major discussion point was the non-appearance of Brandt for much of the second half. Against Loughborough, Brandt was the leading goal scorer and his absence was puzzling!
As the game entered the final stages, Coventry were reduced to 4 men following two serious fouls. As Liverpool looked to exploit the 2 man advantage, indecision and poor ball handling undid them once again and Coventry proceeded to score. Rarely has this been witnessed especially against as experienced an outfit as Liverpool.
If erratic refereeing decisions punctuated the first half the red card issued to Irving in the 55th minute left everyone bemused due to the wrong player being sent off – Whittaker was certainly lucky for this mistake. This was a wholly unjustified decision for strong defence and mistaken identity only added to the disappointing display from the home team. As the game closed Coventry again exploited the fast break and scoring 4 unanswered goals. The final action of the game saw the hugely impressive Beremeyer score his 9th goal, an outstanding performance given the nature of Liverpool’s 31 -15 defeat.
Overall, a disappointing performance by Liverpool, albeit Coventry were a very strong squad. As you look through the statistics, Coventry had eight 2 minute penalties whilst Liverpool’s 5 did include a red card which cannot be explained by this commentator. As we look to the scoring from both teams, the dependence of Liverpool on Beremeyer who accounted for 60% of their goals has to be addressed, as only five other players got on the score sheet. In contrast Coventry had 10 goal scorers with their leading contributor scoring 5.
Early days in the new season, however, greater fitness and conditioning coupled with more game time from returning players will undoubtedly help the Liverpool cause.