STREATHAM 4–1 OXFORD CITY STARS
Nicky Chinn’s dramatic overtime winner sent Streatham into the play-off semi-finals after overcoming a first-leg two-goal deficit against Oxford City Stars.
Goals from Joe Johnston and David Savage leveled up the tie before Adam Wood’s last period strike looked to have sealed the comeback for the hosts.
But Ben Ealey-Newman scored just minutes later to set up a nervy overtime finish in which Chinn believes he was lucky to grab the deciding goal.
“It’s one of those things, I got a good opportunity there on a 4-on-3 power play and just managed to put it away,” said Chinn.
“It’s always a bit, oh damn is it really our time?
“But I was confident, we had been playing well all game.
“It was actually a lucky goal, he mishit the puck and it ended up on the stick but that happens.”
Trailing 2-0 following Saturday nights defeat, the opening goal was set to be crucial and although Streatham dictated the majority of the opening period, Oxford’s defence proved a difficult unit to break down.
Streatham eventually profited from a power play situation when Steven Fisher set up Johnston to poke home the opener and begin the fight back.
And despite taking a while to come, Johnston felt his side managed to raise their game to trouble Tom Annetts in the Oxford goal.
“I felt it was coming, I thought it had been coming for a while,” said Johnston.
“Oxford’s goalie played out of his skin yesterday [Saturday] but to be honest I don’t think we really moved him that much, a lot of the shots were at him.
“Everyone came a little bit more focused a little bit more up for it and more motivated from yesterday [Saturday].
“We got on them early, probably didn’t score as early as I would have wanted us to but once you get one it’s on to the next one and obviously we found ourselves 3-0 up.
“I’m just very proud tonight. Everyone knuckled down and did what they had to do.”
The hosts maintained their dominance into the second period and following a heated exchange between Adam Wood and Dax Hedges in which both sides were penalised for roughing, Savage kept his composure to level up just a minute later with another power play goal.
Then with the tie still hanging in the balance, on 52 minutes Wood demonstrated the skillful side of his game with some neat work to round Michael Whillock in defence, before scoring with a backhanded shot to give Streatham the lead for the first time in the tie.
That lead was only momentary though as within two minutes Joe Allen was put in the bin for hooking, allowing Oxford to benefit with a power play goal of their own through Ealey-Newman.
With the tie level at 3-3 this marked Oxford’s best spell in the match as nerves looked to be getting hold of Streatham.
But last-gasp heroics from Savage and goalminder Will Sanderson kept Streatham’s cause alive to take the game into overtime.
With five minutes of 4-on-3 overtime called Shane Moore was penalised on the stroke of full-time leaving Oxford shorthanded.
Chinn needed just 29 seconds to set himself before unleashing a wrist shot winner to spark jubilant scenes.
Streatham will face their cup-final conquerors, Chelmsford Chieftains, in the play-off semi-finals this weekend, hoping to make amends for their disappointing loss last month.
Although Chelmsford will once again be considered strong favorites, Johnston says less expectation can play to Streatham’s advantage.
“Obviously last weekend was a pretty tough weekend for us but it’s a fresh start again because it’s knockout hockey and form goes out the window,” added Johnston.
“Next week it’s a clean slate so anything can happen, we’re going to be underdogs but sometimes it’s quite good to play that role.”
Image courtesy of Rick Webb, with thanks