A lone Steve Fisher strike was all that separated the Invicta Dynamos and Streatham Redskins in the NIHL Southern Cup semi-final 1st leg on Saturday with the Mos returning from South London with only a 1-0 deficit to overcome in game two in Gillingham on Sunday.
The Dynamos journeyed to the High Road minus captain Nicky Lewis and forward Callum Fowler and would perhaps have expected an onslaught with a full strength Streatham looking to make the most of home advantage. However the first period started slowly – Bailey Wootton having the best of the early exchanges when found alone at the back post but the Mos number 33 failed to find the target. It would take until midway through for the frame to fire into life – Kamil Kinkor escaping clear on the breakaway but finding Damien King in no mood to give up a goal and padding his shot around the post. On a speedy counter Eriks Ozollapa then struck the upright for the Mos with as a slapshot from the right circle before King was forced into action again – this time Adam Wood letting loose from the slot. Despite coming close, neither team did enough to secure the breakthrough and the sides returned to the changing room with the scoreboard unchanged.
In the second period the intensity stepped up a notch but both rosters would still flounder in front of goal. Chris Wiggins came close as he bulldozed his way through to shooting territory between the faceoff circles but his eventual shot was wide of the left post. Down the other end Eriks Ozollapa almost raced on to a long clearance to escape on the breakaway but brave netminding by Will Sanderson saw him speed from the crease and throw himself to the ice to poke clear before the Latvian could gain control. Having lost out on a chance to go ahead, the visitors were then lucky not to be behind when Steve Fisher steered a pass around the attempted diving interception of Elliott Dewey to find Adam Wood at the back stick but Wood fluffed his lines and missed the target with the goal gaping. The Mos then had a series of powerplay opportunities as Wiggins made three consecutive trips to the box but their spell with the man advantage was ineffective – the Redskins seeing off the time with ease. This caused the away side to over commit and Streatham nearly scored shorthanded when Callum Best danced around Arran Strawson and centred for Steve Fisher at the far post but Damien King denied him twice from right in front. The Mos failed to learn their lesson though and just seconds later the exact same scenario resulted in the only goal of the night – Best passing across the crease from the right wing and Fisher roofing over King for a 1-0 lead at 37.52.
In the final period the Dynamos suffered immediate penalty trouble as both Eriks Ozollapa and Harrison Lillis went to the box but the Streatham powerplay proved just as poor as that of their guests – Elliott Dewey almost netting whilst two men down as he skated the length of the ice before firing into Will Sanderson from close right. At 47.50 Chris Wiggins then took exception to Ozollapa and shoved him into the boards after the play had stopped – the offence going unpunished by the officials. The Mos then had Damien King to thank for keeping their deficit at one as he denied Casimir Madren-Britton’s blue line drive and then somehow kept the puck at bay with both Steve Fisher and Adam Wood snapping at the puck on the edge of his crease. It was to be the last of the genuine opportunities – Streatham’s attack nullified by late penalties to Wiggins and Jack Tarczycki but the Mos unable to find the tap-to-tape passing that would unlock the Redskins rear guard.
So it was a 1-0 road defeat for the Dynamos but with key absentees which forced Head Coach Kevin Parrish to juggle his lines it was still a case of job done in South London with the Mos still well in the tie heading into the second leg. With the onus on Streatham to make the most of home advantage the visitors will have been satisfied to return to Gillingham with the cup final still firmly in their reach and the decider now set to take place in front of their own fans. Man of the match awards went to two excellent netminder – Will Sanderson taking the honours for the Redskins and Damien King for the Dynamos
Written by Paul Bennett.