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Watkins expects Telford Tigers to regroup and get stronger

Head coach Tom Watkins has vowed Telford Tigers will get stronger after suffering back-to-back friendly defeats.

Telford Tigers
Telford Tigers

The reigning NIHL National League champions were given notice of just how tough it will be to defend their title this season by losing home and away against the Swindon Wildcats.

Tigers were hammered 9-2 on Saturday night in Wiltshire – despite taking a two-goal lead – and followed that up with a 4-1 reverse back in Shropshire.

Watkins, whose side start their title defence at Leeds Knights on Saturday, said: “We made a bad start (on Sunday) and didn’t really get any breaks.

“To concede in the first two minutes after blocking a shot was a blow, somewhat a broken play but that’s hockey.

“We lacked some jump which I think was probably a consequence of being short (on Saturday night) and we didn’t forecheck well.

“The defensive zone is certainly a work in progress for us with two goals from rebounds where we didn’t tie up sticks and two goals from neutral zone turnovers which cost us. It was a tough start against a good team and they punished our errors. We will regroup and be a much stronger team in future I’m sure.”

Within the opening two minutes of Sunday’s game starting at Telford Ice Rink, the away team had taken the lead.

Jack Goodchild was left totally unmarked in front of goal and took full advantage of the opening by sliding the puck past Brad Day.

Tigers looked a little off their game in the opening five minutes and took time to find their feet.

Dean Skinns in the Swindon goal made a strong double save from a Rhodes Mitchell-King slap shot and then the rebound from Ricky Plant.

Scott McKenzie then went close for Tigers with a shot from close range that Skinns saved with his pads. Swindon cleared the puck and immediately increased their lead. Sam Bullas shot at Day and while the Tigers’ net minder saved the initial shot, Loris Taylor was first to the rebound.

After successfully killing a penalty, Tigers pulled a goal back as Brodie Jesson’s shot from distance was deflected into the goal by Bayley Harewood.

Telford were only briefly back in the game as Swindon pulled away again thanks to two goals from Colby Tower.

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