REPORT: Wild 6 – 5 Jets

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Widnes Wild brought a big crowd to life with a fine all round team performance. Both sides had key players missing, with Wild’s leading goalscorer, Filip Supa, being most notable.

However Widnes were able to parade two deadline signings in Geoff Wigglesworth and Josh Grocutt. Both used their considerable experience to good effect.

Widnes again got off to a great start, Mark Higson getting the puck home in the first minute following good work from Ben Brown and Tom Ratcliffe. With Wild having to defend a five on three short handed situation. It came as no surprise when Jets equalised through Daniel Sayer in the 9th minute.Just three minutes earlier Wild centreman, Chris Preston, had received a game penalty for a controversial boarding offence in front of the team benches. Wild certainly missed his effort and tenacity throughout a hard fought contest.

Shaun Dippnall restored the Wild lead in the opening minute of the second period, when Bobby Caunce skated clear down the left before feeding Dippnall for the first of his three goals. Within a minute Michael Forbes brought Hull level after confusion in the Wild defence. A Bobby Caunce solo effort restored the Widnes lead within two minutes. At no stage in the game did Wild manage to get more than a goal ahead of their East coast visitors – the close score adding much to the general spectator excitement. Further solo goals from Dippnall and Caunce, matched goal for goal by Hull scores, saw Wild go to the dressing room at the end of the second just 5-4 ahead. The fourth Hull goal brought a netminder change for Widnes. Throughout the second period, Greg Ruxton had struggled with mobility and Steve Gilmartin took his place between the pipes after 35 minutes. He was soon brought into action, making excellent saves at his right hand post as the second period drew to a close.

Hull’s outstanding youngster, Lee Bonner, had repeatedly threatened the home goal and it came as no surprise, when he fired home a 43rd minute equaliser into the top right corner.
With both teams engaged in an end to end contest, the crowd responded accordingly, roaring on the home side to greater and greater efforts. A man advantage following a penalty for elbows, was not used to great effect by Wild and as tiredness crept in errors followed. The game was finally decided in the 54th minute, when Warren Gilfoyle in the Hull goal, made a great stop only to see the Wild’s Man of the Match on the night, Sean Dippnall, get to the loose puck and force it home for his hat-trick and the winner. The crowd response was incredible, with the volume raised through to the final buzzer.

Widnes Head Coach, Mark Gillingham, was delighted to see his team record another vital win:
‘We weren’t at our best throughout the game, really, so we had to battle through to the win. It shows how far we’ve come in the past few weeks. A performance like that three or four weeks ago, against a team as strong as Hull, would almost certainly have ended in a defeat, but we’ve grown as a unit and the players are putting in that little bit of extra effort that’s seeing us home. It’s nice to pick up back to back victories, but we’ll have to step up again in order to make it three out of three next week against an ever-improving Blackburn side. Next week, our two other new signings, Aled Roberts and Jordan Owen, should make their Wild debuts, so we should have a little bit more depth in the side. It seems as though the crowd at home games is really starting to get behind the team, and the effort is being recognised. We’d love to see the rink filled next week to support us in what’s a really important derby game.’

This was a more disjointed performance than that against Nottingham but the victory owed much to an improving team spirit and tenacity. With the outstanding Filip Supa missing for some weeks, it was good to see the forwards creating and converting goalscoring chances. With several more strong players due to take their places in the Widnes line up, Sunday’s home derby against Blackburn Eagles is creating a huge amount of interest. The game starts at 18.15 and the rink management are appealing for spectators to arrive early, to ensure they are seated in time for the face off.

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