Stars Title Hopes Dashed By Romford
Match Report: Oxford City Stars vs RJR Raiders (Romford) Sunday 31st March 2019.
Oxford City Stars went into the game knowing that anything less than a win would mean their League title challenge was over for the season. Their chances were slim as they also depended on a number of other results, but in the end, they will be meaningless for the Stars as they succumbed to the Raiders, who Stars had only beaten by an overtime winner in the first meeting in Essex, earlier in the season.
Stars gave a starting debut to 17-year-old netminder Daniel Trueherz and he was soon in action as Raiders opened the brighter as Stars took two early penalties on the play, Tom Davis and Jake Florey taking the penalties. Stars managed to penalty kill both of these as Trueherz faced down the Raiders shots. Stars seemed to have weathered the early storm as firstly Josh Oliver and then Lee Richardson went close for the hosts. The visitors opened the scoring, in the 9th minute, when Samuel Austin fired in a wrist shot past Trueherz. Stars upped their game and 48 seconds before the end of the period equalised when Matt Lawday, continued his fine run of goalscoring, when he flicked the puck over the Raiders netminder Bradley Windebank.
The second period started with Raiders taking a minor penalty with Callum Burnett sitting out two minutes for holding. Stars didn’t really trouble Windebank in the visitor’s goal and it was no surprise when Raiders took the lead when Ewan Hill fired home after Trueherz had saved the initial shot on the goal. Within 11 seconds parity was restored as Oliver fired home from distance after good work by Michal Oravec, who picked up his second assist of the game. Less than a minute later and Stars were behind again when Brandon Webster finished off a nice move involving Tommy Huggett and Sam Roberts. The visitors extended their lead in the 34th minute when George Gell scored, following an individual defensive error by the Stars. The scoring was not over in the period as Josh Florey reduced the deficit to one goal with a thunderbolt of a shot from the point.
The third period saw the game open up and become more end to end. Stars dominated the territory and possession but found the Raiders netminder, Windebank in imperious form. He saved 22 shots, in the 3rd period alone, to give him a match total of 50 shots. Richardson, Darren Elliott and Dax Hedges had the best chances for the Stars but the 16-year-old visiting netminder held strong. As Stars pushed for the equaliser, they were caught on the break with Webster adding his second and the Raiders 5th goal.
Both netminders, deservedly, picked up the player of the match awards. Stars have two games this forthcoming weekend when they travel to play Chelmsford on Saturday. They entertain Cardiff Fire in their last regular season game on Sunday, at Oxford Ice Rink, Face Off 6.15pm. They will be looking to get back to winning ways in time for the playoffs on the weekend of the 20th/21st April.