Defending champions TV Suhr have got off to a flying start in the handball playoff finals, winning their first match against Kadetten Schaffhausen 27-24. The last ten minutes were crucial as Schaffhausen struggled without top striker, Atilla Kotorman.
Until the closing stages, though, the Cadets looked equal to Suhr in every department. As the visitors pressed forward, Suhr's player-manager, Goran Perkovac, was forced into a defensive role, scoring just two goals himself (one of which was a penalty).
While Kotorman's injury clearly limited Schaffhausen's attack the surprise return of long-term casualty, Stian Vatne, brought added steel to the visitor's defence. Clever use of a double power-play in the second half saw the side score three quick goals to move within one point of the home team with just ten minutes to play.
Suhr found their rhythm in the closing minutes though, with Carlos Lima particularly impressive on the wing. The final three-goal margin was enough to send most of the sell-out crowd home happy, but Schaffhausen will at least be relishing the chance for revenge at home on Friday.
"We missed Kotorman in defence, in attack and in the powerplays," admitted Schaffhausen's trainer, Peter Bruppacher. Unfortunately for the Cadets, Kotorman's ligament injury will not have cleared up by Friday, or in time for the rest of the best-of-five series.
by Mark Ledsom