Deans deliver perfect Christmas gift with fine victory at Wessex

Leandros Tsikras, wearing 15, helped Horndean to an impressive win
Leandros Tsikras, wearing 15, helped Horndean to an impressive win
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Horndean defeated Wessex M3 3-1 to record their fourth-consecutive win in the National League division two south.

The Deans came out on top in a hotly-contested tussle at Bournemouth’s LeAF Academy to boost their chances of promotion.

Both teams have been flying high at the top of the league and player-coach Nasser Ssemuwemba could not hide his delight after his side pocketed all three points.

He said: ‘They are without a doubt one of the strongest teams in our division.

‘We are only the second team to have managed to beat them so far this season and to do it in their own backyard is so motivating.

‘It’s going to be a tough run to the end of the season because we are also still involved in the National Shield.

‘I want to thank all our players for their commitment and hard work but, at the moment, there is no Christmas gift better than this win.

‘It’s always good to end the year on a winning note.’

The Deans started fast and aggressively in the opening set, forcing Wessex into a series of unforced errors to lead 8-4.

Wessex responded but the Deans had another gear as they took the opener 25-19.

The tide seemed to be turning in the second set.

Horndean’s man-of-the-match Leandros Tsikras felt things started to go wrong for the team.

He said: ‘Our reception unit just collapsed.

‘As a setter, you cannot string together any meaningful attacks without a decent first pass. Even with a player with as good reach as Marcus Russell, you need some kind of decent ball in to bring him into play.

‘Unfortunately for us, reception was our downfall at the start of the second set.’

However, the Dean’s reception unit eventually got a grip and the visitors were able to pressure Wessex with middle blocker Russell and opposite player Damian Roberts in superb execution form to level the score 22-22.

The match was tense and tight as both sides halted each other’s attempts to win the set, until Wessex eventually edged it 26-24.

In clear need of changing the tide, the Deans brought on Willard-Hans-Shongue to replace debutant Konstantinos Yiannakkos.

And the move worked as Shongue’s influence on court, together with Haakon Lie’s piercing hits helped the Deans to surge ahead after a 25-20 third set win.

However, the Deans had to recover from a slow start to the fourth set.

By the second technical time out the Russell and Tsikras combination had put the visitors ahead.

Both teams fought hard but it was Horndean, inspired by Ssemuwemba and Lie, who got the win 25-23.

Russell was delighted the team registered a vital success.

He said: ‘Its a massive win for us. They are the best technical team that we have faced so far this season and I want to congratulate all the players for working together to achieve this vital victory.

‘We hassled for points and our belief not to give up forced them into making mistakes. Great win to enjoy.’

The Deans return to action on Saturday, January 10 in the second round of the National Shield.

They face hosts OVC Oxford Bulls and division one side Danes Watford for a place in the quarter-final.