FOR the second night in a row having a short bench cost the Whitley Warriors dearly as they ran out of steam in the final period and slumped to a 7-4 defeat in Sheffield.
Whitley almost scored with the opening attack of the game, but DJ Good’s shot bounced back off the post much to the relief of the home keeper.
However, Good would not be denied and it was he who put the visitors ahead at 4.06 only to see the Spartans draw level with 12 minutes on the clock.
The Warriors had much of the play in first period and their persistence got its reward with the last action of the session when Shaun Kippin netted just before the buzzer went for the first interval.
The game continued in the same vein during the middle period, but the only goal came at 33.31 when Good extended the visitors lead by scoring his second of the night; lifting the puck high into the roofing of the net to give the Spartans netminder no chance.
However, things were much different in the last 20 minutes as the home side seized their opportunity against a rapidly tiring Warriors outfit and netted six times, with only a 49th minute effort from Dean Holland as a reply from Whitley.
Holland’s goal put Whitley 4-3 ahead, but the home side then netted four times in the last six minutes to snatch the victory.
Saturday had seen the squad make the short journey to the Billingham Forum and in a nip and tuck opening period, it was the visitors who had the better of things against the unbeaten league leaders.
However, as the game wore on the Billingham Stars – who had a full squad of four lines – took control against a Whitley side that could only muster almost three, and it was the home side who eventually won 7-2.
After the Sheffield game Whitley coach Garry Dowd expressed his disappointment that his side came away from the two games with nothing.
“I know we were missing several players,” he said, “but in Sheffield especially, I felt we should have been capable of taking something out of the game.
“We had been very bright for two periods, but seemed to run out of steam very quickly towards the end and perhaps should have played smarted hockey to protect what we had.”
Being a former Billingham player, Dowd would have been looking for his side to make his return to the Forum a triumphant one, but it was not to be.
“They (the Stars) have a lot of depth to their squad and perhaps we frightened them into playing for the last 40 minutes, after being the better side in the first period; but once again we fell away badly towards the end.”
Injuries have badly affected Whitley, at the back especially this season, and that might be an area Dowd has to look at in the coming weeks.
This weekend the Warriors face a double-header of action against Blackburn Hawks, travelling to Lancashire on Saturday, before hosting the game at Hillheads on Sunday and Dowd will be looking to see some of his missing players return to action.
“Ally Brummitt is day-to-day at the moment,” he said, “so he will probably have a skate during the week to see if he can make the line-up, while we should have youngsters Harry Harley and Christian Johnson back from their Under 18 duties; so that should give us a few extra legs.”
Tickets for the Blackburn game are available on the night, priced at adults £7.50, Under 16s & Concessions £5.50, while a Family Ticket is £22.
The action gets underway at 5pm, with the doors open 30 minutes before face-off.