Spirited Whitley Warriors lose two tight tussles

Whitley Warriors had two games over the weekend as their NIHL North campaign got fully under way.

They travelled to Blackburn on Saturday evening before a home game against Solihull Barons on Sunday night.

Warriors lost out against reigning champions Blackburn 2-1 in a tight contest in Lancashire.

Summer signing Niall Simpson netted for Whitley while youngster Ross Douglass made his debut.

The versatile Martin Crammond was named the visitors’ man of the match against Hawks for an accomplished display in defence.

On Sunday evening Warriors took on Solihull Barons and were able to welcome ‘d’ man Dan Pye back into their line-up, however, they were without the services of both Harry Harley and Joe Stamp in defence.

Warriors took the lead when Dean Holland netted a sweet strike from just inside the blue line which just had too much power and pace for Barons keeper Josh Nicholls on 14 minutes.

David Longstaff almost doubled the home side’s advantage seconds later but his effort cannoned back into play off the post.

Barons created openings of their own and drew level when Thomas Soar fired past Richie Lawson towards the end of the first session.

The second period was just 90 seconds old when Warriors regained their lead thanks to another Holland goal when found the back of the net following a precise centre from winger Jordan Barnes who picked up an assist along with DJ Good.

Barons were not behind for long, thoug,h as their import forward Niklass Ottosson netted under two minutes later after good build up play from Dale White and Josh Bruce.

Warriors netminder Lawson made a hugely impressive point blank save from Andy Whitehouse later in the period to keep the scores level at 2-2.

But Solihull netted two quick-fire goals from Matt Maurice and Richard Slater shortly into the third period.

Warriors continued to create chances and went close to getting on the scoresheet as Ben Richards almost netted late on after some nice work from the industrious Liam Brown.

But Solihull held on and the man of the match awards went to Holland for Whitley and import forward Ottosson for Solihull.

Whitley coaches David Longstaff and Dave Holland shared their views on their team’s displays over the weekend.

Longstaff said: “The players have been excellent all weekend, we are short staffed and our lads battled away and never give up.

“We are playing two 18-year-olds in defence and have forwards dropping back to play on ‘d’, and I can’t fault the lads at all.

“We are training well and are backing each other up out on the ice.

“Solihull will be challenging for the league this year and we pushed them hard with our young team.

“They have two imports and a lot of signing power, however, we were able to match them for large parts of the game and we even out shot them in the middle period by a healthy margin.

“We conceded two quick goals in the third period and it is hard for the lads not to let their heads drop, but they kept going and going for the team.

“We didn’t have quite have the legs in the third late on. I thought Liam Brown played well tonight, he’s a real find for us.

“Richie [Lawson] has been great for us all weekend, if he records a save percentage of around 90 per cent as he has been he’ll give us a chance to win games this season.”

Holland said: “Martin Crammond played in defence for us in both games over the weekend and he did really for us, it’s just another example of one of our players doing all he can for us.

“Joe Stamp is back in the mix next week, we have to see what he’s like when he gets on the ice, but he’ll be in contention for next weekend.”

Warriors are in action on home ice on Sunday when Telford Tigers visit Hillheads for a NIHL North league match that gets under way at the normal 5pm face-off.