Who writes these scripts?Article
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BLOG: ehfTV.com commentator Tom Ó Brannagáin lookes back at a game in which the frenetic dying moments, rather than the game as a whole, will live long in the memory

Who writes these scripts?

The game in Minsk will never go down in history as a classic that's for sure. It was just marginally better than the match of the week in Dunkirk as a spectacle. It was a drab, dour affair that seemed millennia removed from what modern day handball can be. At least in Dunkirk the teams had an excuse, due to a proliferation of injuries. Here, it wasn't for the want of trying, it was more a lack of quality. 

Mojsovski is a big miss for Metalurg, but surely they have enough quality remaining with Vugrinec, Atman and Mirkulovski. To be fair, when Vugrinec played (and he didn't play as much as usual) he scored some very important goals. Mirkulovski and Atman had some moments of class, especially with their interplay with pivot Dimovski, but not on a consistent level and certainly not at the level we saw in the last 45 minutes of last week's game in Paris. Minsk for their part have shown that they can compete with the big boys, but lack the necessary experience to see a game out.

We mentioned there was no love lost between these two teams and there were some niggly moments, but on the whole the defences and goalkeepers were on top. It's the philosophy of Cervar to win games in defence and his team followed his instructions to the letter. They were awesome in defence, with Stanic in great form also, but seemed bereft of ideas up front. Denic, the Minsk coach wants a fusion of the two (defence and attack) and at times there was champagne handball from the home side. But there was not enough belief or experience to finally undermine the Macedonian team.

The centre blocks for both teams in the 6-0 defence were crucial. For Metalurg, Markoski and Jonovski and for Minsk, Doroshchuk and Bundalo. When these combinations played together, both teams looked impenetrable. They fought with passion and no little tactical awareness.

In attack Cindric did exceptionally well for Metalurg and Bombac for Minsk. They were the driving forces in their teams attacks.

And it was their youthful enthusiasm that sparkled in a drab game. A young player has none of the hang ups of an older, experienced player. They play with the heart and a body that is not yet exposed to injury. In a game that was marked as a low scoring game from two minutes in, the self-fulfilling prophecy of a draw was on the cards. This was all Metalurg needed and they were just going to do enough to get it. But both these young players wanted more, and they wanted their teammates to want more. The trio of Mackovsek, Bombac and Miklavcic looks like reaping long term rewards for the Belarusian club, if they are willing to wait. Cindric is a great find for Metalurg. 

There are eight players from Minsk with their birthdays in April. Strange but true. (imagine the cost on your teammates). It looked for long periods like all their birthdays would come early as they forged into multiple goal leads twice during the game only to be clawed back by Metalurg. Metalurg ground them down minute by long minute. Denic spent the entire game with his arm in the air looking for passive play. So often was it in the air that his hand may have aged a year from lack of blood flow. But Metalurg played their waiting game. They are not looking for plaudits for their style of play, they just want results. 

Enter the final 15 seconds and it was not the slow, pedantic play of Metalurg that saved them from the ignominy of defeat, but a young willing pair of legs and a brave heart. Minsk led by one, a hard fought lead that looked to be enough, especially the way the Metalurg attack was playing. Cindric destroyed Bundalo for pace outside, and a rugby style ankle clip gained a penalty. The final buzzer sounded. Cue the "who is gonna take it" drama on the sideline. Not Cindric; he had missed two. Vugrinec? Regular penalty taker with experience. No! Step forward another young gun. Goce Oleski took the ball. Renato blessed himself. Goce scored. Self-fulfilling prophecy. Game drawn. Heartbreak for Minsk, but in the cold light of day a good point on the development road.

The crowd of 3,500 for their part, was amazing. They applauded groaned and cheered in equal measure and gave a warm round of applause to a returning Atman. They lived every moment with their team. 

This was not champagne handball. The cork threatened to pop a few times during the game, but mostly it just fizzled out. In fact if we had fast forwarded the game to the last 5 minutes we would not have missed that much. These were the minutes of high drama. The seconds that highlight MOTW above all others. Dramatic games with climactic endings. Penalties on the final buzzer! Who writes these scripts? 

The man with the "bottle" when all was said and done was Ojleski. 

Post script

After the whistle, there was high drama off the court. The ins and outs will remain in the arena. But, there may be some big news coming from Dinamo Minsk. Watch this space.

TEXT: Tom Ó Brannagáin, ehfTV commentator