Shropshire Star

Tom Watkins: We lost our way in defeat to champions

Head coach Tom Watkins has called for more mental strength from his Telford Tigers side after they threw away a 2-0 lead against Leeds Knights.


Telford dominated the first period and took the lead through Vladimir Luka before doubling their lead five minutes later through Fin Howells.

However, they ended up losing 5-2 to the current league champions and Watkins was disappointed after the contest.

He said: “It was a game of two halves. One good one bad! We got ourselves in a very good position after playing hard, physical and disciplined within our structure, stuck to assignments won our one on one situations and were good on the puck.

“The second half of the game was the opposite, we struggled with the quality Leeds have and subsequently made mistakes.

“It feels like mentally we lost our way, our belief, one mistake and we sink too low, gave them too much respect and lost too much momentum so we can’t get it back. We were hanging in there in the third period for the first 10 minutes and I wanted to call a time out at every whistle just to slow the pace a little bit we didn’t get a face off outside of our defensive zone in that spell of the game.

“We can’t have those big swings of emotion if you want to be competitive in the key moments. The game gets to 2-2 and we have to show we have the grit and determination to play when the game is on the line.”

Around eight minutes into the second period, Leeds pulled a goal back through Jordan Buesa, which deflated Telford. Mac Howlett then equalised for the hosts in the opening minutes of the third period, with Leeds in the ascendency.

The next goal was crucial and it went to the hosts, with Buesa getting his second.

The Knights then added a fourth goal shortly after with Buesa completing his hat-trick to give Telford a mountain to climb.

Tigers’ task get even harder a minute after the fourth goal was scored when defender Jake Price was ejected from the game. Price took exception to an elbow to the head from a Leeds player and dropped the gloves but was called for fighting and given a five minute penalty.

Leeds sealed the game with a late goal from Bailey Conger to make it 5-2, to add insult to injury to Telford.