‘Another chance gone’: Joe Johnston fears he’s running out of time as Streatham Redskins fall at final hurdle

Joe Johnston admits last weekend’s disappointing NIHL cup final defeat to Chelmsford Chieftains may have been his last chance of winning silverware as he contemplates his future in the sport.

Johnston’s Streatham Redskins side lost 17-5 on aggregate to Chelmsford — who had already won the league and South-East Trophy titles earlier this season.

Still feeling the pain of last weekend’s loss, the 36-year-old was downhearted as he reflected on what could possibly have been one of his last appearances for the club.

He said: “I’m obviously really disappointed for the team but for myself as well because you get to a certain age in a stage of your career and your running out of opportunities.

“Realistically how many cup finals will I have left in me?

“I don’t know what I’m going to do next year, I don’t know what’s going to happen with the coaching situation so I’ll have to think about what I’m going to do in the summer.

“It’s sad because that’s potentially the last cup final I’ll have and when you get to a certain age your chances are diminishing it’s just another chance gone so that was tough.”

Despite being on the wrong side of a 7-2 score line at home in Saturday’s cup final first leg, Johnston still believed a comeback was possible going into the deciding leg the following night.

However he says inexperience might have got the better of his side who went on to lose 10-3 away in Chelmsford to cap off a miserable weekend for the Redskins.

He added: “I’m a bit of an old romantic with things like that, I could still envisage myself scoring the winning goal and picking the cup up at the end of the game.

“That’s the reason I still play because if you’re going to go into the game thinking we’ve got no chance of winning then there’s no point in going.

“If you’re going to go into a game, especially ice hockey which is quite brutal, if you’re going to go in half-hearted there’s no point at all.

“I knew it was going to be difficult and unlikely but I’m a bit of a dreamer so I still thought we were going to win 6-0 and win the cup on one goal but it just didn’t pan out that way.

“I think we got stage fright a little bit on Saturday.  We’ve got a lot of players that aren’t used to that sort of big game I guess, the crowd was obviously massive and I think the big occasion got to a few people.”

While the club is currently suffering from a loss of form having lost each of their last five matches — their worst run all season — this weekend does offer the opportunity to bounce back from the gloom in the play-off quarter-finals.

Streatham face Oxford City Stars over two legs and should be confident of progressing having already beaten them four times throughout the current campaign.

But Johnston warns that momentum is on Oxford’s side and that there are no certainties in play-off hockey.

He explained: “We’re on a dire run at the moment and it’s all pretty negative, there’s not many positives that can come out of our last three, four weeks of hockey whereas teams that have been winning are on a little run.

“We should feel confident that we beat them four times but it’s play-off hockey and it’s winner stays on, it’s do or die and it’s a different kind of hockey so people will go for it more.”

Image courtesy of Rick Webb, with thanks

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