A goal from Arran Strawson was not enough to prevent the Invicta Dynamos failing to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Chelmsford Chieftains on Sunday as the re-crowned champions cemented their spot at the top of the NIHL South Division 1.
In the opening period the Mos started well enough – Nicky Lewis sweeping wide of the far post from a good position close right before seeing an effort harshly ruled out at 06.31. Callum Fowler’s pass to the crease bounced off the pads of Euan King and Lewis poked the rebound through the legs of the seated netminder only for the referee to blow up as he made contact and later rule out the strike for an offence unknown. When the action restarted it was the Chieftains who enjoyed the better of the remainder of the frame – Damien King having to be at his best as both Ross Brears and Juraj Huska were presented breakaway opportunities in quick succession. Having stood firm, the Mos shot stopper would have then perhaps been disappointed with the way he did finally concede – a Billy Phillips slapshot from a third of the way down the pad slamming onto the goalie’s stick and looping behind him to put Chelmsford 1-0 up at 17.35.
After a fairly low key opening period not really befitting of the league’s top two sides, the second saw Chelmsford continue to have the better of the chances with the Mos struggling to combine effectively. Grant Bartlett could have made it 2-0 early on as he followed up his own effort only to fire over the target from point blank range. The miss would matter little at 24.40 – the home side’s back line caught napping as Olegs Lascenko disappeared behind the frame before finding Darren Brown with plenty of space on the edge of the crease and this time Damien King was left with no chance as Brown tallied with a one-timer to double his side’s lead. Down the other end the hosts attempted to reply but opportunities were few and far between – Callum Fowler coming close when following up an Eriks Ozollapa effort but Euan King standing tall at his near post leaving him little to aim at. Meanwhile King’s sibling was equally impressive at the other end – the Dynamos goalie gloving a Grant Bartlett wrist shot, turning a Daniel Hammond poke from the crease wide and robbing the Chieftains when 3-on-1 to keep his team within touching distance heading into the last.
In the final frame the home side almost cut into their 2-0 deficit – Connor Redmond redirecting Ondrej Zosiak’s blue line drive but only into the chest of goalie Euan King. During a spell of 5-on-3 the Mos then came as close as they could without tallying – Cameron Bartlett and Ross Brears in the box as Callum Fowler saw an effort hit the post with the goal judge lighting the lamp but the referee saying no goal. A follow up from Eriks Ozollapa was then expertly gloved by netminder King before Fowler thumped the upright again with the Chelmsford net now living a charmed existence. When the numbers evened up it was the hosts who fell afoul of the referee’s whistle – Fowler being penalised for hooking and his reaction resulting in a ten minute misconduct that would put him out of the rest of the tie. Ironically it was without their biggest goal threat that the Dynamos finally answered – the clock stopping at 53.43 as Arran Strawson bobbled a wrist shot from the blue line through heavy traffic in front of Euan King and over the line to make it 2-1. Chelmsford could have replied but Damien King closed his palm on a stinging Billiy Phillips slapshot before shutting the door on an Anthony Leone effort towards to the 5-hole late on. The best of the chances then came the way of Eriks Ozollapa – the Latvian set free on the breakaway with the opportunity to level but Euan King read his high shot to the top far corner and executed a game winning glove save that confirmed a 2-1 victory for the Chieftains.
So it was defeat for the Dynamos in a game where they stuttered for the opening two frames before finding themselves with too much to do as they found their feet late in the third. Chelmsford looked comfortable for large periods of the tie but two controversial washed out efforts allowed them to claim another Gillingham victory. When it came to man of the match awards the King brothers had a monopoly on the beers – netminders Euan and Damien taking the spoils for both sides.
Written by Paul Bennett.