EPL big guns struggling to repeat success

Last year’s top two in the EPL have a difficult job on their hands if they’re to repeat their achievement.

Reigning champions Telford Tigers are currently seven points off top spot in sixth place, with Guildford Flames one point ahead in fifth.

Guildford endured a miserable weekend, losing against Sheffield Steeldogs and MK Lightning, while Telford bounced back from defeat at Swindon Wildcats to thump nine past Manchester Phoenix.

Flames’ Head Coach Paul Dixon didn’t mince his words after the two performances.

“It is very disappointing and frustrating to be speaking about back-to-back losses which held us out of the league table points,” said Dixon.

“In both games we had plenty of opportunities, both evenings badly outshooting our opponents, but at the end of the day the game is decided by keeping score and when you only manage a single goal across a pair of starts, it’s not going to get results.

“When things are not going your way, you have to find a way to keep working hard and keep the belief that results will fall your way. We will start afresh this week with a look ahead to next weekend and do what we can to turn this around quickly.”

Tigers’ boss Tom Watkins was also frustrated to see his side blow a comfortable position at Swindon.

“It was disappointing to lose, especially after leading 3-0 in the second period,” he said. “At that point in the game, we were in a very good position.

“Swindon are a streaky team who often score in bunches, and that’s what they did against us. We were tying 3-3 at the start of the third period, but just gave it away.

“I thought we outplayed Swindon for portions of the game, so to outshoot them by over 30 shots, but still let them back in, you have to question our decision-making.”

“Swindon play a certain way and are very good at creating momentum, especially at home. They kept chipping away and just took their chances well.

“You have to ask whether they took their chances better, or we didn’t battle hard enough. The guys have to be willing to get their noses dirty.”

Watkins got the response he was looking for on Sunday his team dished out a 9-0 demolition of injury-hit Manchester.

“It was a great start for us, to end the first period 3-0 up,” said Watkins. “It just reminded the guys of the position we were in on Saturday night, near enough.

“I thought the guys played well, we kept pushing and got the rewards. It was good to get our first shut-out as well, so a pat on the back to Thomas Murdy for that.”

“The younger guys need to step up in games like this. We’re missing a few players, so they’re getting a lot more minutes on the ice.

“Both Dale White and Macaulay Heywood went out on the penalty kill. In these circumstances, I think all the guys have got to play different in places at times.”

(Image permission: Alan Bone)

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