Whitley inspired in comeback for draw

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AFTER a disappointing home defeat by Blackburn the previous week and a 7-3 loss at Coventry the night before, Whitley Warriors were looking for a solid performance at home to the Lions.

And they made the perfect start when Bryan Dunn deflected the puck into the visitors net just four minutes into the game.

But after that bright beginning, they allowed the Lions to seize the initiative and they were level when Gareth O’Flaherty smashed the puck into the back of the net from distance at 13.58.

Worse then followed as Joe Wightman nipped in to score from close range a little less than three minutes later; and when the same player made it 3-1 at 30.31, Whitley looked in serious trouble.

However, they knew the next goal was crucial, and it was DJ Good who reduced the arrears 48 seconds into the final period.

That inspired the Warriors and they were soon level as Jamie Tinsley powered his way through the Lions defence to let rip and give the visiting keeper no chance with a goal at 42.05.

Quite how the score remained at 3-3 is a mystery, because Whitley were suddenly a different side and laid siege to the Nottingham goal; but a combination of good goalkeeping, last ditch defending and more than a sprinkling of luck managed to keep the Warriors at bay.

Afterwards Whitley Warriors coach Garry Dowd praised the spirit of his side after they came back from 3-1, but felt they should never have allowed themselves to get into that position in the first place.

“We did very well to claim a point,” he admitted, “but if we had played like that all night, the result would have been much better and we wouldn’t have needed a comeback.

“We started very well and went a goal up early in the game, but then for some reason took our foot off the gas and that allowed Nottingham to dominate for the next 35 minutes and were good value for their lead at that point.”

However, it was a much different Whitley side that started the third period and they were quickly level, but the coach admitted strong words were spoken during the second interval.

“We had a very frank discussion about what we were doing wrong and told the players exactly what I expected of them,” he revealed.

“However, I was delighted with the response and by the end Nottingham were hanging on for a point as we laid siege to their goal, but somehow they managed to survive.”

Dowd gave Calvin Khass a first start of the season in goal against the Lions and was delighted with his display.

“We need to have two keepers I can rely on and Calvin showed tonight he is someone I can put in goal and get a good performance,” he said, adding “too often a club has only one strong goalie, but in Calvin and David Lawrence I know we have two people who will give their all for the club.”

However, there had been no luck for the Warriors the previous night as their away day blues continued with a 7-3 defeat in Coventry.

All was to play for with a little under seven minutes remaining when Whitley trailed 4-3, but the home side then netted three in as many minutes to end the contest.

DJ Good and Andrew Cook had pulled Whitley level after they trailed 2-0 at the end of the first period, while a first ever senior goal from Harry Harley had made it 3-3.

This Sunday the Warriors are away to newly promoted Solihull Barons and will be making their first visit to the Hobs Moat rink for almost 10 years.

“It’s a rink very similar to ours, so we should feel at home,” said Dowd, “but Solihull play a very feisty game and we will have to be on our toes for the full 60 minutes to take anything out of the night.”

Callum Pattison should be back in the side after missing last weekend because of the eye injury he sustained against Blackburn, but skipper Rob Wilson is unavailable for the trip.

The Warriors are next at home on October 23, when Coventry Blaze make their second visit of the season to Hillheads.

Meanwhile, supporters are reminded that tickets for the Warriors Hallowe’en Party are still available and the Coventry game will be the last chance to buy them from the Supporters Club.