Shropshire Star

Tom Watkins believes Telford Tigers can push for play-off glory

Telford Tigers head coach Tom Watkins believes his side have ‘as good a shot as anyone’ at winning this season’s national play-offs.


After eight wins from their last nine games, Tigers secured a sixth place finish in the NIHL National League table and will begin their play-off campaign against eighth-placed Raiders.

And Watkins is desperate for his side to start off strongly against the lowest ranked side left in the competition.

“It’s very important that we try and get a good start against this team this weekend,” he admitted. “They are the lowest seed, and it’s the one opportunity for us to get a good start.”

Watkins added: “I think if you can start the post-season well it breeds confidence and belief. We’re targeting this weekend; we’ve got a good record against the Raiders this season and a good start in the play-offs is a must for us.”

With three wins against Raiders already this season, the Tigers boss is well aware of what to expect from the Essex-based side.

“I think they’re a solid team,” Watkins said. “Their league position is based on a poor start to the season, I think they went nine games without winning, but they’ve obviously picked up since.”

He continued: “Every time that we’ve played them I’ve been impressed with their speed and balance across the three lines. They have scorers through those three lines as well so it’s obviously difficult to shut down one when they have that spread scoring ability.

“They’re big, they’re strong, and they’re pretty physical. They play the right way and have always been a test for us.”

Tigers will be buoyed by the return of Harry Ferguson from suspension, while the form of record-breaking veteran forward Scott McKenzie will also be key if they are to succeed in this year’s play-offs.

Having recently become the club’s all-time leading British point scorer, second only to Canadian legend Claude Dumas, head coach Watkins was full of praise for the Scot.

“Scott has been a stalwart for this club, and he knows what is expected of a team in the play-offs,” he said. “He’s a leader, he’s an experienced guy and we need all our experienced guys to be at their best.

Watkins added: "We have the experience of knowing what to expect in the play-offs, we know to keep things tight and win a game by one or two goals. I’d say we have as good a shot as anyone.”