Shropshire Star

Telford Tigers make thrilling start to their play-off campaign

Telford Tigers head coach Tom Watkins admitted his team stole the points after scoring three times in the final 90 seconds to win a thriller at Romford Raiders.


Goals from James Smith, Scott McKenzie and Fin Howells completed a remarkable comeback as the Tigers came from 5-3 down to win 7-5 in the last seven minutes and make the perfect start to their National League play-off campaign.

“We never lost focus or belief,” said Watkins. “We were confident in what we were trying to do.

“We stuck to the game plan, scored some big goals to get back level and then stole the two points with lots of character.”

A close match was expected with three of this season’s five league meetings between the teams having gone to overtime. Both entered the contest in strong form, with the Raiders having won five of their last six and the Tigers six in a row.

It was the visitors who quickly found themselves chasing the game, a mistake by netminder Brad Day allowing Aaron Connolly a simple tap-in.

Yet in a sign of what was to come, the Tigers were level within a minute, McKenzie scoring his first of the night on the powerplay.

The teams exchanged two more powerplay goals before the end of the first period, Jake Sylvester putting the hosts back in front, before Archie Hazeldine levelled matters for the second time with a superb individual strike.

Within a minute of the second period starting, the Raiders went ahead for a third time, Connolly netting his second of the match. But back came the Tigers, Howells scoring on the powerplay to leave the scores 3-3 heading into the final period.

Romford then looked to have taken control when Sylvester got his second of the night and Brynley Capps gave the hosts their first two-goal cushion of the night.

But James Smith halved the deficit after being set up by Jesse Sutton, before the Tigers snatched it in dramatic fashion at the death.

“That was a very good start to our play-off campaign with a battling performance on the road,” said Watkins. “It was always going to be an intense game and I think we grew into it as the game progressed.

“The third period was our best of the night, I just think we played the right way, we played how we need to in order to get a win in play-off hockey.”