Greek ace Tsikras keeps Horndean on track

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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Leandross Tsikras played a starring role as Horndean kept their promotion plans on track with a 3-1 win over Cardiff Celts.

The Deans’ playmaker was on song in the National League division two south encounter at Highbury College.

Maciej Kubis in action for Horndean. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133265-313)

Maciej Kubis in action for Horndean. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133265-313)

He helped the hosts brush aside their rivals to stay hot on Wessex BU’s heels in second place.

Horndean are one point shy of leaders Wessex, who have a game in hand.

The third-placed visitors showed no signs of travel fatigue as they grabbed the first set.

They tormented the home team with a combination of tactical serves, solid blocks and well-placed spikes to take the opener 25-23.

Player-coach Ssemuwemba said: ‘We started the match in jittery fashion, while Cardiff were in sparky mood despite the long trip to the south coast.

‘We made a lot of individual mistakes at the start and even when we finally got our game going, it was too late to salvage the set.’

However, the Deans restored parity with a 25-17 second-set victory.

Influential middle players Marcus Russell and Ssemuwemba were to the fore.

The third set proved to be a show-case of Horndean’s new addition Adamantios Xanthoudidis at the net.

The newly-signed Greek player, who normally trades as a libero for the Deans, surprised his team-mates by slotting in well an outside hitter.

He served with precision and attacked with confidence to help his side win 25-20.

Tsikras said: ‘Half of our team were missing for this match, so we decided to play him as a spiker.

‘And what a good decision it turned out to be because he was very effective and won the team a lot of points.

‘If I can remember very well, he only made about two hitting errors.

‘It’s always a bonus to have a utility player in the team and in Xanthoudidis, we’ve found one.’

Tsikras claimed his fifth man-of-the-match accolade, while Stephen Metherell, Maciej Kubis and Benoit Royer joined the fray with well-angled hits and back court defence to ensure that the match did not stretch to five sets.

A service mistake from Cardiff later brought proceedings in the fourth set to an end at 25-16, handing the Deans their 11th-straight victory in all competitions.

Russell believes the Deans must stop the individual mistakes, though.

He said: ‘I don’t really want to be very critical of the team, because we had a few key players missing.

‘But if you cut out all the individual mistakes from every one of us, then we should be able to easily win games in straight sets.

‘At the moment we’re winning and the feeling is good. So, credit to the team. But there is always room for improvement.’

Horndean travel to Richmond on Saturday before they go to Exeter in the Shield semi-final on March 1.