A third period fightback by Milton Keynes Lightning almost spoiled the party at Telford Tigers’ last home league game of the season – Lewis Clifford’s men twice taking the lead, only to lose out by the odd goal in a 5-4 defeat.

The result will give encouragement to Lightning who meet their Shropshire rivals in the play-off group games beginning next weekend – a double header against Leeds Knights starting the campaign for the city outfit.

After Tigers took a 2-0 lead by the 24th minute it looked as though it was business as usual for the league champions – but they had not counted on a final flurry from Lightning that resulted in them going 3-2 ahead and then 4-3 in front inside the last seven minutes.

Ultimately, Telford proved just too strong for Lightning with Scott McKenzie, who had scored the hosts’ first goal, capping the result with the last strike with 43 seconds remaining to leave Lightning disappointed.

Veterans, defenceman Jonathan Weaver and forward Rick Plant, were the providers for McKenzie’s first goal that did not come until 39 seconds into the middle period – MK unable to capitalise on the only penalty of the opening stretch when Weaver was sidelined for interference in the 11th minute.

Tigers extended the gap to two on 24mins 41secs with an unassisted marker by 42-yearold Jason Silverthorn. When Bobby Chamberlain was called for roughing five minutes later MK were reduced to four skaters but they held firm – as did Tigers as they faced short-handed spells with Brodie Jesson (slashing) and Corey Goodison (cross checking).

However, there was no change to the scoreline until Tigers’ goalie Brad Day was eventually beaten 39 seconds into the third session – Sean Norris taking the honours with Chamberlain and Jamieson the providers.

Less than two minutes later at 41mins 40secs it was all square – this time it was Chamberlain with the final touch from Sam Talbot and Norris. If Telford were stunned by this then they were even more shocked when Tim Wallace and Mikey Power were involved as Ben Russell fired in a rare goal – only his second of the season – at 45mins 6secs.

Tigers hit back to equalise after 49mins 52secs through Silverthorn again before Talbot went solo to beat Day again for Lightning’s fourth goal on 53mins 17secs – moments before the visitors had a two minute long short-handed spell when captain Russ Cowley was penalised for hooking.

The penalty gave Tigers the chance to square things up again, thanks to youngster Finley Howells, with Vladimir Luka and Weaver assisting on the powerplay goal at 55mins 6secs.

Just 41 seconds remained of the 60 minutes when Weaver gained his third point of the night in setting up McKenzie for the winning goal that destroyed MK’s hopes of forcing overtime and at least a point.