From 6-9, with five goals in the fourth, Jug come back and almost win it

Day 12, Group B – Jug Adriatic Osiguranje Dubrovnik (CRO) v Novi Beograd (SRB) 11-11

The sides played a 12-12 tie on Day 3, then another one a couple of weeks ago in the semis of the Regional League (Jug won on penalties) and they managed to produce another draw. For quite a while, sharing the points was never in the picture as Novi Beograd were the dominant force from the beginning. However, Jug kept coming back, again and again.

The Serbs stormed to a 0-3 lead, Jug could score their first only one minute before the first break. They pulled another one back in the second, still, NBG held on for 3-5 deep into the second quarter. However, it was even by halftime as Loren Fatovic netted a man-up, then a counter in the last 48 seconds for 5-5.

That looked to a fine booster, instead the hosts found themselves three goals down late in the third as the Serbs staged another 0-3 rush. Strahinja Rasovic hit one from action, then in a 6 on 5, Alvaro Granados also buried an extra for 5-8. Matias Biljaka’s nice action goal ended Jug’s drought after almost five minutes, but Angelos Vlachopoulos was precise in a man-up so Novi Beograd enjoyed a fine 6-9 lead with one period remaining. 

Rasovic’s next shot in extra was well saved by Toni Popadic – it could have been four between the sides, soon the gap was down to one as Jug scored two from action in a span of 46 seconds. They were back and further 45 seconds later Maro Jokovic put the ball away from a 6 on 5 to make it 9-9 and there were a lot to play with 4:48 to go.

An emergency timeout seemed to have helped the Serbs as they forced an exclusion and Rasovic was on target this time. But a penalty, buried by Jokovic, levelled the score once more at 10-10, with 3:56 on the clock. NBG had two extras, a centre shot in between but they were unable to score, and it was inevitable that Jug would find the way to score. Indeed, Franko Lazic hit one from a man-up so Jug led for the first time in the entire match with 21 seconds remaining. The Serbs went for a 7 on 6 and it worked – they could set up Nikola Jaksic whose one-timer hit the back of the net with 0:02 on the clock.

Three weeks ago, Jug saved the game against Ferencvaros to a tie in the same way – so they may not feel that they dropped two points in this match. This draw still hasn’t secured their F8 berth but can be worth a lot, while Novi Beograd almost surely lost their chance to finish atop.

How they saw it

Vjekoslav Kobescak, coach, Jug

It was a very tough match. For most part of the game, they were better in the pool, we were constantly behind them. We have a very bad start but managed to come back for a draw and we even led towards the end. We gave all we have – if you have a third draw with NBG in a season, that shows the character of your team.”

Zivko Gocic, coach, Novi Beograd

“Congrats for both teams, it was a big fight from the very beginning to the end, to last second so to say. We were the better team in most of the game but in the last quarter we had problems to organise our attack to beat Jug’s defence. Still, this draw is really important for us.”