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Watkins left feeling frustrated as Tigers' lead stolen by late Raiders.

Byline: ICE HOCKEY sports@mnamedia.co.uk

Telford Tigers head coach Tom Watkins was left with a 'sour taste' in his mouth after seeing his team fall to defeat against Raiders despite having a two-goal lead with just five minutes to play. In what was their final Spring Cup outing of the season, Tigers entered the game with a second-place finish already secured. Watkins men had never lost to Raiders on their home rink. And they looked to be on course for another victory when Robert Lachowicz, Scott McKenzie and Ross Venus put them 3-0 up. Raiders, who are based in Romford, got the score back to 3-2 with strikes from Ashley Jackson and Ben Solder. But Telford restored their two-goal lead before the break through Jason Silverthorn. A Fin Howells strike ensured Watkins' men were 5-3 up with just five minutes remaining. Bur Raiders fought back to score just one minute later through Juraj Huska. Then with just 50 seconds left, a good passing move ended with Glenn Billing taking the clash to overtime. Raiders started overtime on the power play after a tripping penalty for Ricky Plant in the closing seconds of regulation time. And they went on to capitalise with Solder scoring his second of the game to clinch a dramatic comeback victory. Watkins admitted that defeat was hard to take with Tigers having looked in control for the majority of the match. But while he was disappointed with the result, he says the most imporFin tant thing is having hockey up and running again following the coronavirus pandemic. "It was not how we wanted to end the Spring Cup but if you don't play smart, you get punished," Watkins said. "I would expect to see a game out with a two goal cushion and with only five minutes to play but disappointingly, we threw the game away. "Credit to the Raiders, they turned the game on its head and took full advantage of our sloppy finish.

"This one leaves a sour taste as you want to end on a high. But, overall, it's meant a lot to be able to get back to work, be back in the rink and around the game again with some sort of a routine. "All the players, staff and volunteers have done a tremendous job managing the situation and ensuring we comply with all the protocols, for which we have all been grateful for the opportunity." Watkins also thanked the Tigers' media team for ensuring fans could still watch their games.

"I want to say a massive thank you to our media streaming team who have worked tirelessly to give people the opportunity to watch hockey again," he added. "It hasn't been easy and has taken a huge amount of time behind the scenes to set up. "Again, we are very grateful for their time and expertise in putting together a very slick production. " I also want to wish all the best to those players who are moving on to play in the Elite series."

CAPTION(S):

Howells looked to have secured the victory for Telford Tigers but they went on to lose in overtime. Above, coach Tom Watkins.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Author:ICE HOCKEY sports@mnamedia.co.uk
Publication:Shropshire Star (Shropshire, England)
Date:Mar 29, 2021
Words:525
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