London Raiders edged out in cup semi-final
PUBLISHED: 20:50 25 February 2017 | UPDATED: 21:05 25 February 2017
London Raiders 2 Chelmsford Chieftains 3
London Raiders were edged out by National League champions Chelmsford in the first leg of their cup semi-final in Lee Valley.
But their tie remains in the balance heading into the return leg at the Riverside on Sunday, as they look to advance to a likely final meeting with Invicta, who beat Streatham 7-2 in the first leg of their semi-final.
Raiders had slumped to an 11-3 home loss against Chelmsford a week earlier in the league and were without leading scorer Marek Nahlik once again for this latest contest, but the two sides produced an exciting and even opening 10 minutes.
The home side killed off a boarding penalty against Brandon Miles, before Chieftains opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Jake Sylvester.
And the visitors quickly doubled their advantage as Grant Bartlett struck less than three minutes later.
Miles hit back in the final minute of the opening period, with a delayed penalty goal assisted by Stewart Tait, as Chelmsford dominated the shot count 15-8 in the first 20 minutes.
And the scoreline remained unchanged during a tense middle session, when the visitors outshot Raiders by a 17-8 margin and saw Bartlett receive a misconduct penalty.
The final period was only 34 seconds old when Anthony Leone put Chelmsford 3-1 up, but Raiders dug in and hit back with a powerplay goal from captain Tom Davis, after Alex Staples and Matt Turner had been called for high-sticking and slashing penalties.
And although they were outshot 43-31 overall on the night, Raiders remain in with a chance of progressing, after Jack Cooper claimed their man of the match award and Brandon Ayliffe took Chelmsford’s prize.
Scorers, Raiders: Brandon Miles 1 Tom Davis 1 Thomass Beesley 0+1 Stewart Tait 0+1 Julian Smith 0+1.
Chieftains: Grant Bartlett 1 Anthony Leone 1 Jake Sylvester 1 Juraj Huska* 0+1 Oliver Baldock 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Raiders 2 Chieftains 6.
Shots faced: Euan King (L) 15-17-11=43-3 Ben Clements (C) 8-8-15=31-2.
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