Warriors in heavy play-off defeat

WHITLEY Warriors coach Simon Leach was fuming at his side after they were left trailing in the wake of a Fife Flyers outfit they beat twice at Hillheads recently as they lost 6-0 in the Northern League play-off final.

Fife were hosting the two-day tournament at their Kirkcaldy rink and went at the Warriors from the off, determined to avenge those defeats, taking the lead at 4.47 through Andy Samuel.

Play was almost exclusively in the Whitley end during the first period and the Flyers doubled their lead through Josh Scoon at 9.20, with Daryl Venters getting too much time in front of goal a couple of minutes later as he scored with ease.

To round of a bad session for Whitley they fell a further goal behind at 16.20 when Steven Gunn netted on the powerplay, although the league’s leading scorer had looked suspiciously off-side early in the move.

The only goal of the second period came in the 23rd minute when Gunn added his second and Fife then rounded the night off with the final marker 35 seconds from the end of the game, Steven McAlpine scoring when he was left all alone in front of goal.

“Much of the damage was done when they scored four times in the first period, but we just didn’t perform for 90 per cent of the night,” said an angry Leach afterwards.

“Most of our top players didn’t come to play at all and if it wasn’t for James Flavell in goal, we would have been looking a much bigger score than six.

“However, I was disappointed for the lads that did play and the young kids who got a run-out in the final period and showed good effort when they got their chance, but just too many players didn’t have that desire tonight.”

Leach was almost at a loss to explain why his side performed as they did: “I’m a pretty intense person myself and when you can’t influence what’s happening on the ice, I find that hard to take,” he said.

“We had players not up for the challenge, but I have made my feelings known in the locker room afterwards and hopefully we can re-group ahead of some important English National League games that are still to come in the next few weeks before the season ends.

“The fact we had only 16 shots on goal in the whole game tells its own story, we have to be better than that in big games; and I just hope it’s a lesson we have all learnt.”

Whitley had qualified for the final by knocking out holders Solway Sharks in pretty comprehensive fashion in Saturday’s semi-final, with Ryan Sample (2), Dan Harris, Peter Zajac, Callum Watson, DJ Good, Ritchie Thornton and Martin Crammond all on target in an 8-4 win.

With the Northern League season now over, the Warriors return to English National League action this weekend with away games against Trafford Metros and Nottingham Lions; and Leach is hoping his side can get their play-off final blues out of their system.

“We have to get back to what we do well very quickly,” he said.

“Trafford are fighting to stay in the division and are on a bit of a roll at the moment, while Nottingham will be looking to get one over us ahead of those play-offs; so unless we improve dramatically on this weekend, it could be a tough couple of nights.”