BILLINGHAM BOMBERS 4- 8 ALTRINCHAM ACES 8 FEBRUARY 2003
An away League trip to Billingham, Bombers needing the points to keep alive their playoff hopes. Tim Dempsey returned to the Aces line up and the Aces were probably pleased to see their former 'team-mate' Rick Ashton in the home goal.
The goals started early. Jason Hewitt got the puck in the attacking zone and sent a high shot home, leaving Rick Ashton clutching at air. Bombers levelled on 3.06. The puck was passed in from the side and Stephen Johnson fired home a low shot past Danny Higgin. Simon Mills received an uncharacteristic 2+2+10 penalty for attempted spearing and the Bombers went ahead on the powerplay, Ian Richardson scorched a shot from the point into the top corner past a screened Danny. Steve Daly was stopped in front on an Aces powerplay but Bombers then took their lead to 3-1 against an Aces team that seemed a bit flat. Stephen Johnson had the first chance saved but the rebound fell to Paul Windridge on the left to put in from the angle. That goal saw Danny Higgin leave the ice although you couldn't say he'd been solely at fault for the goals. Any fears of a Bombers landslide were eased by a Martin Lewis slashing penalty. Nick Crawley sent in a shot from the blue line that was stopped but Greg Allen was at the side of the net to get the loose puck and put it into the empty net behind Ashton. Nick Crawley hit the post and then Phil Verstappen made a good save to deny Andy Fletcher, Fletcher getting a knee injury in the aftermath that would finish his game. Andy Thornton then pinged a long shot off the Aces post. Aces levelled at 14.20. Billy Price took the puck down the left wing and sent the puck in for it to be deflected in off Jason rushing the net. Billingham hadn't managed to press home their early advantage against our new goalie and we took the lead just before the interval when Billy backhanded in through Ashton's legs.
Phil made a good save to deny Johnson one on one before Aces extended their lead. Billy was pushed into the Billingham goal landing on top of Ashton, Billy was quicker up than the Billingham goalie and that delay left Jason to be able to slot in from the angle on the left. Billingham got back to within one goal at 27.10, Johnson beat Simon down the wing and passed to the far post for Ian Buchanan to score. In between a rash of Aces penalties in the second half of the period, Billy tipped in a shot from Russ Richardson. Phil made three good saves to deny the Bombers on the powerplay and the period ended at 4-6.
Aces caused themselves a few worries when Phil's stick clearance ended in a defensive mix up before Phil redeemed the situation with two quick saves. Billingham's powerplay had gone to pieces and although they had four minutes virtually consecutively, it was Aces who got the goal when Jason sent Billy through to fire past Ashton. With the match settling into a routine win, and Billingham not posing much of a threat, Arran Richardson had a shot saved and Steve Daly put the puck in after he'd been knocked down on the ice.
The contest between Aces' former netminding duo was won convincingly by Phil Verstappen (7-1 whilst Phil was on the ice) and despite giving away three early goals, Aces always had the confidence of knowing they could score past Rick Ashton - the other Billingham keeper might have been a more difficult test.
0-1 00.26 Hewitt from Crawley
1-1 03.06 Johnson from Buchanan and Windridge
2-1 04.32 Richardson from Windridge and Ward PPG
3-1 07.22 Windridge from Ward
3-2 08.03 Allen from Dempsey PPG
3-3 14.20 Hewitt from Price and Allen
3-4 19.11 Price from Mills and Hewitt
3-5 21.42 Hewitt
4-5 27.10 Buchanan from Johnson and Richardson
4-6 34.45 Price from R Richardson and Allen
4-7 49.12 Price from Mills and Hewitt SHG
4-8 55.36 Daly from Worrall and A Richardson
Tim Dempsey 0+1, Greg
Allen 1+2, Russ Richardson 0+1, Steve Michie,
Brian Worrall 0+1 (MoM), Nick Crawley 0+1, Jason Hewitt 3+2, Simon Mills 0+2,
Arran Richardson 0+1, Stephen Elliott, Billy Price 3+1, Luke Stretton, Steve Daly 1+0,
Phil Verstappen (52m 38s, 29s, 1g, 96.59%), Danny Higgin (7m 22s, 6s, 3g, 50%),
SOG 35-37 PIMS 20-26