Two goals from Christopher Rühr sent Mülheim through and ended Scottish Champions Kelburne’s dreams of an upset in the EHL KO16.
Mülheim wasted little time asserting themselves on the game and after three minutes forced a penalty corner which was despatched by Thilo Stralkowski with a powerful low flick which Mark Fulton got a stick to but could not keep out. Kelburne seemed nervous and allowed their opponents too much time and space to transfer the ball from one side of the pitch to the other. On nine minutes they could have fallen further behind but this time Fulton made a superb save diving high to his right to push another Stralkowski drag flick over the bar.
Kelburne seemed to settle into the game and started to press Mülheim further up the pitch, causing the usually composed defence all manner of problems. The Scottish side forced their first penalty corner but were frustrated when Felix Reuß somehow managed to get a toe to the ball to turn Mark Ralph’s effort onto the post.
As with the first quarter, Kelburne conceded an early goal in the second. Fulton had already denied Rühr who had pulled down a deflected cross and volleyed goalwards, but the No.17 got his first-ever EHL goal just moments later with a vicious reverse stick shot which gave the goalkeeper little chance. With Kelburne reeling, Mülheim added a third, Johannes Schmitz stabbed home from close range after good approach play from Rühr.
Kelburne threatened in patches but their second penalty corner was charged down by the number one runner and Chris Nelson smashed the rebound well wide. Mülheim showed their ruthless streak in front of goal yet again with just three minutes of the half left; Rühr drove along the baseline to escape the attentions of two defenders before brilliantly lifting the ball over the advancing goalkeeper and into the net with great skill and composure.
Kelburne were fortunate not to go further behind at the start of the third quarter. Stralkowski spun and stopped the penalty corner for Tobias Matania to flick at goal. The 22-year-old’s shot struck Mark Ralph who was standing on the line on the faceguard and went wide. Neither umpire seemed to see and a long corner instead of a penalty stroke was awarded.
The Scottish side broke out of defence with a strong run from Nelson but his shot whilst at full stretch did not trouble Reuß. With 3 minutes left in the quarter Mülheim made it 5-0; Schmitz cut in from the left and shot inside the near post. Fulton may have felt he could have done better.
Mülheim went into cruise control in the final quarter with Kelburne sitting deeper and deeper hoping to limit the damage and the Germans content to keep the ball. There was still time for Rühr to miss a wonderful chance to complete his hat-trick but incredibly he pulled his shot wide with just the goalkeeper to beat.
The game finished as a 5-0 win for Mülheim, their biggest win in the competition to date. Rühr scooped the man of the match award despite his late aberration. Speaking afterwards, Rühr said: “Of course we would like to face Rot-Weiss. We always enjoy playing them and it’s a big game, a derby. We will see.”
A mouth-watering tie in prospect as the German side march on. For Kelburne it’s back to the drawing board.