Wildcats 3-2 Raiders - Match Report

Match Report courtesy of Swindon Advertiser

SWINDON Wildcats were forced to produce a resilient performance as they edged past the London Raiders 3-2 at the Link Centre.

The Wildcats came racing out of the blocks and peppered Michael Gray’s net throughout the opening five minutes of the contest, including Stevie Whitfield’s effort which pinged off the upright.

The visitors, who were urged forward by their vocal supporters, were being dominated in the early exchanges before they took a surprise lead.

D-man Ben Nethersell was guilty of giving away to puck to the London side, who were playing at the Link Centre for the first time, which allowed them to race clear, with Juraj Huska slotting home in the seventh minute.

It wasn’t long until persistence paid off for the Wildcats, as import Max Birbraer by example and restored parity in the 12th minute of the game.

In truth, the Raiders were fortunate to be level, but after several shots on goal the 36-year-old finally stabbed home to level proceedings.

The second instalment was a much more even affair, as both the Cats and the Raiders had nice phases of play without going ahead.

The visitors came the closest in the first five or six minutes as Olegs Lascenko struck the bar with a thunderous effort.

Player-coach Aaron Nell did manage to hit the back of the net in the second period, but sadly it wasn’t with the puck as the 27-year-old actually fell in the net, which summarised their performance nicely to round off a goalless second period.

After anuneventful start to the third, the Cats finally got into the lead through teenager Jordan Kelsall.

The 18-year-old was the quickest to react in front of goal, and was able to prod the puck home in front of 1412 people at the Link Centre, which was the highest attendance of the season so far.

After his earlier incident with the net, Nell was on hand t for the Wildcats when he lashed home to give his troops a two-goal cushion with just over 10 minutes left to play.

Moments later the Raiders were back within one goal as more sloppy defending allowed Huska to hammer home his second of the day to make it 3-2.

The game came to a nervy end as the Raiders opted to pull their netminder, but it proved to be too little too late as the slipped to a defeat.

Man Of The Match:

Swindon Wildcats - Jan Kostal Sponsored by TCL

London Raiders - Michael Gray