The final two games of this season are both with Chelmsford and this first one in Nottingham eventually went the way of the Vipers after huge resistance from the Cobras.
A short-benched Chelmsford had clearly still come with intention to cause a difficult day for Nottingham.
With the hugely talented Emma Nichols backstopping the Cobras and the resolute Holly Steeples guarding net for Nottingham, this was always going to be a battle for an odd, rare goal.
For 13 minutes Chelmsford successfully broke up numerous Vipers’ attacks whilst generating several of their own clear cut chances.
Then, deep her in own defensive zone Madison Wright picked up the puck from Lucy Kendall and skated the length of the ice before roofing high from very close range to at last beat Nichols.
Chelmsford grew into the game and Nottingham had Holly Steeples and good defensive work to thank on several occasions for keeping the score at 1-0 to the end of P1.
P2 saw Nottingham double their lead on 23’ when Bea Lester, a consistent performer in every game this season, fed Robin Mullen to skate in and bury a shot low, right for 2-0.
A few minutes later, a defensive mix up provided the Cobras an opportunity to claw their way back to a 2-1 game with top goal scorer Tereza Plankova netting from Brittany Stoneman.
The tight score line remained to the end of P2 and continued for virtually all of P3.
It took until the 59th minute of the game for a further breakthrough. Robin Mullen put the puck on the stick of Madison Wright who raced through to sweep in a second goal of the game and provide some Vipers breathing space.
With the final hooter about to sound, Meg Rathbone found just enough time to fire in a fourth Nottingham goal (with half a second to go!), but the score line does not tell the real story of just how tight this game was.
Coaches Ryan Rathbone and Chris Keal again rolled four lines throughout, giving more great experience to all the Vipers’ players against such top opposition.
Next week’s return leg at Lee Valley is all to play for!
Madison Wright 2+0
Robin Mullen 1+1
Meg Rathbone 1+0
Bea Lester 0+1
Lucy Kendall 0+1
Vipers’ Player of the Game: Eva Harrison
Holly Steeples: SVS% 97.1 ; Shots on Nottingham 34