Deans shine in shield

Willard-Hans Shongue in action for the Deans
Willard-Hans Shongue in action for the Deans
Josh Green in action for England under-17s at the NEVZA Championshi. Picture: Hamistolen Photography

Green buoyant after his first international abroad

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Horndean reached the quarter-finals of the National Shield with wins against OVC Oxford Bulls and Danes Watford.

The Deans delivered two excellent performances to come out on top in the three-way battle.

Player-coach Nasser Ssemuwemba was particularly delighted with the win against National League division one side Watford.

He said: ‘This is a fantastic start to the year for us.

‘We only had one training session before this triangular encounter but there were no signs of rustiness and that’s credit to all the players.’

Horndean also had to cope without two of their most influential players – Marcus Russell and Leandros Tsikras.

It took the Deans just 57 minutes to see off Oxford in the opening match at Kidlington and Gosford Sports Centre.

Andreas Spyrou and Willard-Hans Shongue both impressed as Horndean dominated.

Spyrou found his outside attackers with ease, as they demolished the Berkshire League side 25-11 and 25-14 in the opening two sets.

The Deans had to fight a bit harder to take the third 25-22.

After a 30-minute break, the Deans were back in action against favourites Watford.

They made an aggressive start, using their fire-power through the wings to cause havoc in the early stages of the match.

The Deans also showed their top attacking form, with precision serves, tight blocks and well-organised back-court play to take the first set 25-17.

They fully dominated the battle at the net during the second set and Watford could not keep up, with Haakon Lie and Damian Roberts hammering from all possible angles of the court to double their lead 25-18.

But the division one side started the third set with much more determination, sprinting into an 8-2 lead at the first technical time-out.

Horndean responded, with both Jakub Chruscicki and libero Adamantios Xanthoudidis on top form.

The score went to 22-22 but the Deans remained calm to complete their victory 25-22.

Horndean player Steve Metherell revealed the team’s joy.

He said: ‘The whole team is in celebration.

‘As far as the decisive match was concerned, Watford made more individual mistakes.

‘We were calmer, even when things were not going our way. It was a great day!’

In the shield quarter-final, the Deans will host Dartford on Saturday, January 31.

First, though, Horndean face National League division three south leaders Richmond on Saturday at Highbury College (11am).