Coid 19 and injury hit Milton Keynes Lightning were beaten but not disgraced as they suffered a second defeat of the weekend in a 3-1 loss at Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday.
As on the previous evening MK were missing nine regular players but were able to draft in five from lower league Sheffield Scimitars – ironically they were facing a couple of team-mates as Steeldogs added Thomas Palmer and Michael Danecko to the line-up.
Ross Miller, on loan from Oxford City Stars, earned a man of the match performance in between the pipes – leading to some supporters calling for him to be signed up to the Lightning roster! Certainly, he saw a lot of rubber in dealing with all but three of 41 shots fired upon him.
Joining him of the MK teamsheet was fellow Star and former Lighting man Logan Prince who was to make a significant contribution later in the encounter.
Coach Lewis Clifford declared himself delighted with how his makeshift squad dealt with the Sheffield threat – as well as the strong Swindon Wildcats team the previous day. Having lost 8-1 at Steeldogs in early October he must have feared the worst on the journey up the M1.
Those worries must have increased when Sheffield struck twice in the opening minutes. The first goal came on just 2mins 35secs when Ryan Johnson was the provider for Brad Doxey.
The experienced Tim Smith finished a move also involving Canada born former Elite League star Matt Bissonette and alternate captain Ben Morgan after 6mins 24secs. The writing appeared to be on the wall for the visitors, but, to their credit, they scrubbed that out by holding the home side for the next 38 minutes.
Almost incredibly, there was only one penalty handed out during the whole of the game – and that did not come until the 55th minute when Leigh Jamieson was assessed two minutes for tripping.
By that stage Steeldogs were 3-1 in front – captain Lewis Bell, assisted by Bissonnette and Jason Hewitt, giving them a three goal advantage at 44mins 46secs before Ed Knaggs and Scimitar Tyler Nixon helped set up Prince for the travellers’ consolation at 45mins 40secs. That goal meant Prince matched his tally in 40 game playing for MK in 2019-2020.
By the time Lightning’s games next weekend Clifford will hope to have the bulk of his squad back after their Covid isolations. What is definite though is that he won’t want to have a repeat of last week in trying to pull together enough players for the team.
Man of the match: Ross Miller.