Widnes Wild Women 5 - Chelmsford Cobras 4
Period Scores: 2-0, 1-1, 2-3
Shots on goal: Widnes 42 - Chelmsford 35
Penalties In Minutes: Widnes 8 - Chelmsford 4The Widnes Wild women’s team moved up to second place in the Women’s Premier League table after a hard fought 5-4 win at home to Chelmsford Cobras on Sunday night.
They are one of 4 teams tied on 12 points but, because of a superior playing record against 3rd place Streatham, they currently occupy the runner’s up slot – albeit a fairly distant 8 points adrift of leaders Slough Topcats – who won 1-7 away at Whitley Bay.
The game against Chelmsford was a gritty affair – and a complete contrast to the game away in Essex 7 days earlier that the Wild had won at a romp.
The Cobras had much of the play in the first period and spent most of their time camped in the Widnes end with the Wild attack consisting mainly of brief counters out of defence. The first goal of the game came when Katie Hills – who had scored 5 away in the last game - got on the end of a Leen de Decker clearance and slotted home on 15.12 to give the Wild a fortunate lead.
Then, in the dying seconds of the period, Abigail Culshaw, taking advantage of a hooking penalty fired in a power play goal (19.06 – asst Hills & Madeleine Gustavsson) to give Widnes a 2 goal cushion at the first break.
The second period saw more one-way traffic as the visitors outshot their hosts by 19 to 6. Stephanie Drinkwater performed heroically in the Widnes net and kept everything out until she was beaten for the first time at 25.30, however the Cobras’ goal was disallowed as the referee had been in the process of blowing for a high sticks penalty against Chelmsford’s Lucy Jarvis on the edge of the blue zone at the moment the goal went in.
The Cobras’ breakthrough did, eventually come 4 minutes later with a well worked unassisted goal from Tereza Plankova on 29.24.
Just 3 minutes later, it looked as if Chelmsford might score again but the attacking player was adjudged to have been brought down unfairly and a penalty shot was awarded. Netminder Drinkwater stood her ground, however, and saved the penalty and the score remained a narrow 2-1 in favour of the Wild.
The Widnes team managed to give themselves a little breathing space at the end of the period as Katie Hills scored her second goal of the game (39.55 asst Amanda Williams) and the Wild women went into the second break with a 3-1 lead.
When Abi Culshaw added a fourth goal at 41.07 (unassisted) you might have thought that the game was pretty much over but that was far from the case. The plucky Cobras continued to push forward and a second goal for Plankova (43.12 asst Law) put them right back into it again.
Enter Bethany Hill – just back from winning a bronze medal with the GB team at the World Championships in Slovenia - with two stunning goals on 48.17 (unassisted) and 51.31 (asst Plankova) and the scene was set for a nail biting finale.
The Cobras seemed to have the initiative and it could only be matter of time before they scored again to take the lead but the Widnes women dug deep and managed to keep them at bay. Just when it looked as if the match was heading for a draw – which would have been the Wild’s third in a row at home – team captain Charlene Chapman put them back in front (54.36 assist Lucy Kirkham) with what would turn out to be the game winning goal.
The last few minutes involved more hard defending as the Cobras surged forward in search of a late equaliser. However, despite several icing calls that took play back into the Wild zone in the last minute, they did not pull their netminder in favour of an extra attacker and the clock slowly ticked down to a Widnes victory.
The Widnes Wild women’s team now have three games away in a row - at Nottingham Vipers (17th April), Whitley Squaws (24th April) and Milton Keynes Falcons (1st May).
They are next at home on Sunday 8th May when they will face Whitley Squaws in a 5.30pm face off at Silver Blades Widnes.
The week after on Sunday 15th May they entertain Nottingham Vipers in their last home game of the season.
Admission is free – so what not come along and support the North West’s only Women’s Premier League team…?