|January 22, 2022||7:00 pm||NIHL South Division 1||2021-22|
The Bristol Honda Pitbulls started their run of critical games against the teams immediately above them in the league table with a disappointing 10-6 loss at Chelmsford.
Bristol currently sit sixth in the table with a clear lead over the teams below. With Streatham enjoying an eight-point lead over second placed Invicta, despite having played two games less, the key battle in the league is between the teams sitting from second to sixth.
While Bristol are six points behind Invicta, they went into the weekend with five games in hand over the second placed team. With Chelmsford occupying the spot immediately above them, Pitbulls head coach, Jamie Elson, was particularly disappointed with an opportunity missed. Particularly as the win elevated Chelmsford to tie for second place in the table.
He said: “Overall we are really disappointed as a group at the result and performance.
“We knew we had a tough run of games coming up, all against teams we are challenging with in the standings, and this was the first one. One where we wanted to lay down a marker. With our games in hand, we could really make a run up the table and we are keen to finish up high and secure a good playoff spot.
“Going in we felt as though we could go into Chelmsford and cause an upset on the road but unfortunately we just made it way too easy for them. We started poorly and once again didn’t get our compete level where it needed to be until we were already in a hole. And then we are battling to claw back into a game.”
Conceding five goals in the first period meant Bristol spent the entire game on the backfoot. Chelmsford forward pairing of James Ayling and import Stanislav Lascek were doing most of the damage, combining for four of those five goals. Lascek would finish the game with his name on seven of Chelmsford’s ten goals and Ayling on six.
But there were positive signs for Bristol in that first period. Elson has lamented at his team’s struggling powerplay unit in recent weeks. But Bristol scored on three of their four powerplay opportunities in the first period to keep themselves in the game. Tamas Elias, Joe Morris and Josh Shaw scoring the goals.
The damage was already done, however, and Chelmsford were able to use that lead to control the game and slowly extend their lead further. Two more goals from Mason Lipsey and one from Bailey Hind-Pitcher only pegged back Chelmsford’s growing lead rather than brought the scoreline back to a point where the outcome was on the line.
It was only the second time that Chelmsford had conceded six goals this season. The fact that they lost on the other occasion was a point not missed by Elson.
Elson said: “We have to find a way to start better and not give up these early leads, particularly on the road. The tough thing is we again showed how dangerous we can be, putting up six goals on the road against a good team and also, again, outshooting a team. But we still lost.
“If we score six in a game, we have to be winning matches. It’s that simple.
“But we need more from the group defensively and that goes for everyone. There were spells where we were really on top with great pressure, and then out of nothing we give up a soft goal going the other way. We were just too easy to play against and it cost us the chance of a win.
“The positive is that we have seen them now and know what they are about and capable of. We need a big week in training to correct some areas and then we face them again this Saturday in front of what already looks to be a sell out crowd in Bristol. We will be expecting a big response.”