Russell inspires crucial Deans win

Marcus Russell, right. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133265-107)
Marcus Russell, right. Picture: Allan Hutchings (133265-107)
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 returned to winning ways in convincing style with a straight sets National League division two south victory over Cardiff Celts.

The Deans, who have been on a downward spiral following a hat-trick of defeats, bounced back with an emphatic performance at Highbury College.

It was Marcus Russell who led the home team’s positive response on court with a magnificent display in both attack and defence.

His exploits, together with that of kingpin Haakon Lie and playmaker Leandros Tsikras, were enough to ensure a third league win.

‘We are delighted to have got back to winning ways,’ said Horndean player coach Nasser Ssemuwemba.

‘The players were beginning to doubt themselves and this win will definitely boost everyone’s confidence.

‘They performed really well and their willingness to compete right from the first whistle was key to an impressive overall team performance.

‘I just hope this victory can help us settle into a winning rhythm.’

Horndean were quick to establish their grip on proceedings right from the start.

They restricted their opponents to only eight points en route to a blistering one-sided first set triumph.

Tsikras said: ‘It was an absolutely vintage start from our team.

‘We knew that Cardiff’s strongest attacks would be channelled through the middle.

‘So our plan was to simply serve hard but not to their libero.

‘This meant without a good first pass, their setter was always going to struggle to bring his middle players into the game. And the plan worked as they struggled to contain our powerful serves.

‘Thankfully for me, the passing from my team was brilliant and this allowed me to find my hitters with relative ease.’

The Deans doubled their advantage with Lie and opposite player Damian Roberts doing most of the damage in the 25-15 second set win.

Cardiff needed a quick response in the beginning of the third set in order to stay in the match.

And although they seemed determined after making rapid improvements in defence, it was the Deans who remained alive to wrap up victory 25-19.

The hosts also had the luxury of handing a debut to their 13-year-old Horndean Technology College student Joshua Green.

Russell, who was named man-of-the-match, said: ‘I think everybody played very well.

‘We knew what was in front of us and stuck to the plan.

‘We limited our individual errors, which always helps a great deal.

‘There is still room for improvement.

‘But all I can say at the moment is to enjoy the win.’

Horndean’s next match is away to Bristol on Saturday, November 15 at Abbeywood Community School (11.30am).