Monday 17 March 2014

Laidler Conference Match Report: Widnes Wild 5 - Deeside Dragons 4

Another packed crowd at Silver Blades saw Wild overcome their local rivals in a thrilling game. Roared on by a big travelling support, the red shirted Dragons were matched throughout by the home side for whom MVP Bobby Caunce worked tirelessly. The home side saw the return of overseas star Filip Supa and talented youngster Lee Pollitt.

The game got off to a predictable start with both sides attacking at a furious pace and Deeside taking a 4th minute lead, when Andrew Chappell fired home from close range. The lead was short lived and flying forward Ben Brown equalised in the 8th minute, after good work from Supa and Caunce. The rest of the period saw an end to end, cut and thrust contest.

It was in the second period where Widnes started to control the game pattern, with some highly effective counter attacks which took the visitors by surprise. Filip Supa soon returned to scoring form with a wrist shot past George Cox just twelve seconds into the period. Bobby Caunce and Shaun Dipnall were the architects of a superb goal. The goal fired Deeside into action, with an aggressive brand of hockey. Whilst Chris Jones was serving a roughing penalty, Wild went further ahead, when Caunce finished from a Shaun Dipnall pass. Greg Ruxton in the Wild goal came under great pressure but along with young defenceman Tom Jackson, Josh Grocutt and Dan Bracegirdle they faced up to a fierce physical challenge.

The final period saw a further, rather bizarre goal in the 49th minute, the puck trickling inches over the line past a bemused George Cox after a Shaun Dippnall shot. This appeared to prompt a netminder change with Matt Compton replacing Cox, the big netminder having just served a ten minute misconduct penalty. His experience couldn't prevent a further Widnes goal. Bobby Caunce beat him inside the left hand post in the 54th minute, Filip Supa being the provider.

At 5- 1 up and just six minutes to go it seemed like job done. However, a boarding incident behind the Widnes net saw Jackson, Tom Ratcliffe and Ken Armstrong all serving penalties. Within seconds, Dragons had scored through Simon Furnival, and he followed up two minutes later with a second to bring the Dragons within two goals. Inside a minute James Parsons had made it 5-4 and it was the Dragons' fans on their feet. In a torrid last 2 minutes, Widnes held out to record a memorable win.

This was a game which kept the crowd on edge until the end, second placed Dragons outshooting the home side two to one.

Wild coach Mark Gillingham was delighted with his side's efforts. "It was obviously a big win for us, especially coming on the back of two disappointing results a fortnight ago. Deeside play in quite a specific way, so we set a game plan and stuck to it for the most part. We congested the middle of the ice, which stopped them playing the long passes they like to make, and until the last goal they only scored with the man advantage. Even with the plan in place, though, it was the effort that each of the players put in that meant we could get the result, and it was a well earned victory."

Wild are at home again next Sunday, when newly-crowned league champions Solihull Barons provide the opposition. Doors open at 5.15 for a 6.15 face off.

* Wild will be supporting a community initiative at Tesco Widnes on Saturday 29th March . There will be a chance to meet some of the players and try your hand at some hockey skills between 9.30 and 17.00. There will be a raffle for a signed shirt, stick and season ticket with funds raised in aid of When You Wish Upon A Star.

Dick Gillingham

Photo: Widnes Wild's Filip Supa by Geoff White -