Heavily depleted Milton Keynes Lightning put up a brave battle but ultimately went down 6-1 to Swindon Wildcats in a National League clash at Planet Ice on Saturday.
With nine players missing through Covid 19 or injury coach Lewis Clifford called on players from lower league teams Oxford City Stars and Haringey Huskies to go some way to filling the gaps. In addition Clifford was able to call on the services of Streatham two-way defenceman, Milique Martelly, who put in assured performance to earn the man of the match award.
It was always going to be a damage limitation exercise to restrict the margin of the Wildcats scoring and although the five goal deficit was some kind of victory in truth the Wiltshire visitors called have stepped up another two gears if need be.
Swindon gave a start to former Lightning favourite in goal, Dean Skinns, and although free scoring Polish import Tomasz Malasinski was missing from the line-up they were still able to score on the powerplay on 5mins 23secs through Czech Emil Svec who fired in to the right of Oxford loanee netminder, Ross White.
Less than four minutes later it was 2-0 as Edgars Bebris shot over White’s shoulder at 8mins 56secs from Balint Pakozdi’s pass on the right. That’s the way the score line remained as the home side were outshot 15-5 in the opening 20 minutes.
MK ended the session with a man advantage after Bebris was called for hooking with just over a minute to go. For a short period that became five on three when Neil Liddiard was penalised for delaying the game. However, MK could find no way through and both penalties passed without score.
A further penalty call, this time on Ben Russell, gave Swindon the chance to score on the powerplay and they took full advantage when Wildcats’ player coach Aaron Nell fed Pakozdi to beat White for a third time at 25mins 30secs.
Swindon added a fourth goal when an Ed Knaggs’ defensive pass was intercepted by Jack Goodchild. He went solo to blast into the goal on 32mins 23secs. The shots on goal in the middle session were even at 13 apiece but it was the visitors who had the more telling chances with Nell and Sam Bullas being denied by White in the later stages.
MK survived an early third period penalty on Leigh Jamieson for roughing and eventually got on the scoresheet after Nell was sent to the cooler for holding on 44mins 59secs. Almost 90 seconds into the powerplay Knaggs’ long pass from the left was tipped in by captain Russell Cowley on 46mins 24secs.
But 31 seconds later Wildcats restored the four goal lead thanks to an unassisted Svec goal before they rounded off their tally through Nell with 2mins 7secs remaining.
Man of the match: Milique Martelly.