The Invicta Dynamos two-legged cup semi-final started with a narrow 3-2 defeat in the first leg at the home of the Wightlink Raiders leaving the tie perfectly poised ahead of game two in Gillingham on Sunday.
The Dynamos travelled to the Isle of Wight without Frankie Harvey and Mark Lee so shot stopper Mark McGill would continue between the posts for Invicta.
Just after a minute into the game Wightlink netminder Matt Colclough was forced to produce two saves from Juraj Huska as the Dynamos looked to put early pressure on the home team. The visitors then had another great opportunity soon after when Michal Oravec danced past a couple of players and raced towards goal but, rather than take a shot, he tried to pass to Jack Lee at the back stick who came agonisingly close to making contact. Wightlink’s Ben Paynter would receive a ten minute penalty from referee Stephen Matthews on seven minutes for abuse towards officials and, after 14 minutes, both the Raiders’ Nick Compton and Dynamos’ Arran Strawson were joining him in the box with minors though neither team were able to take advantage of the 4-on-4.
The second period started with Mark McGill forced into action straight away with the Scot saving well from Craig Tribe. Penalties soon followed for both sides, with Damon Larter and Michal Oravec taking time out, but they came to nothing before Niall Bound was later penalised for hooking on 28 minutes. The Dynamos put pressure on the Raiders during the powerplay but Wightlink held firm and scored immediately after going back to full strength – the clock showing 30:40 as Craig Tribe netted, assisted by Owen Griffiths and Jeremy Cornish. Cornish then extended the lead on 31:29, assisted by Damon Larter and Owen Griffiths, to leave the Dynamos knowing the next goal could be crucial. Fortunately they would claim it – Arran Strawson ventured forward on 39 minutes during a powerplay and, with limited passing options around him, he elected to shoot – the puck edging past Colclough to give the D-man his second goal in as many games. Just 21 seconds later the Dynamos had another – Juraj Huska firing in the equaliser from long distance assisted by Andy Smith and Callum Fowler for 2-2.
The third period was the tightest of the game with only limited chances leading up to the 50th minute mark and both Mark McGill and Matt Colclough saving comfortably when called into action – Callum Fowler coming the closest after clipping the post on 48 minutes. With the game closing-out, McGill then did well to save a shot from Owen Griffiths but Griffiths was on hand to score from the follow-up and make it 3-2, much to the delight of the home fans. With only a few minutes of the game remaining, the Dynamos put pressure on Colclough’s goal but the search for the equaliser failed to come leaving them a one goal deficit heading into the second leg the following night.
So it was defeat for the Dynamos but one that seemed more than manageable with home advantage awaiting in the second clash. The overall game had produced 41 shots at Matt Colclough and 39 at Mark McGill, showing how evenly balanced the tie had been. Arran Strawson picked-up the man of the match honours for travelling Invicta.
Written by Lee Allen