Hyslop’s late equaliser secures thrilling draw for Highbury Korfball Club

The Highbury korfball team, who are based at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre

The Highbury korfball team, who are based at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre - Credit: Archant

An exhilarating comeback from Highbury Korfball Club earned the Swiss Cottage-based club a fully-deserved 17-17 draw against Mitcham in the second tier of the national league on Sunday.

Having trailing for the majority of the game, substitute Niccola Hyslop popped up with the all-important equaliser - and Highbury, who train at Swiss Cottage Leisure Centre, will feel they could even have snatched a winner with a couple of efforts at the death.

First-team coach Andrew Speck gave three players their starting debuts - Matt Dodds, Sara Rocha and Marrit Nijmeijer - and was rewarded after all three chipped in with vital goals.

It all looked to be going wrong for Highbury at the start, as Mitcham raced into an early 6-1 lead, the only respite being a goal from Moses Hutchinson-Pascal after good work under the post by Dodds.

Highbury rallied with three goals without reply to get within two goals at 6-4, but Mitcham debutant Aleks Turner had other ideas, chipping in with his third and fourth goals of the game to stretch Mitcham’s lead to four.

Nijmeijer and Rach Dixon halved that deficit with neatly-taken efforts and the final exchanges of the first half saw the sides trading efforts as Mitcham scored from a free pass and Simon Mackie get the first goal of what would be a hat-trick, ably assisted by Alun Perkins.

Trailing 9-7 at the interval, Highbury hoped to close the arrears in the second period - but two long shots from Mitcham opened the gap to four goals once again.

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Speck responded with a triple substitution, introducing Tiago Almeida, Darryl Light and Hyslop.

Portuguese players Rocha and Almeida scored their first goals for Highbury, and Simon Mackie and Dodds also chipped in – but Highbury still found themselves 14-11 down with time ticking away.

Speck decided to bring himself on as a final substitute, a final roll of the dice in a game that was slowly starting to swing in Highbury’s favour - and it was to be an inspired move as his side scored three goals without reply, with Almeida netting and Speck scoring a brace, to level the scores at 16-16.

That effort looked to be in vain as Mitcham landed a late sucker punch, but Highbury had the final say, with Hyslop sinking the all-important final goal of the game.

There was still time for Highbury to have another chance and they came so close to snatching the unlikeliest of victories before the referee called a halt to a frantic finale.

Speck said: “I was really pleased with the effort put in by all our players in coming back from five goals down to draw the match.

“With three players making their full Highbury debut and all four substitutions used throughout the game, it really was a gritty and focused Highbury performance. All the players gave it their all.

“Now the focus moves onto next week [against Bec] where we will look to fine-tune the team’s performance and go all-out for the win.”