A late face off of 8.15 along with a temporary dressing room, made for unusual match preparation. Widnes were without creative playmaker Andy Clark, Kurtis Hall, Dan Etherington and Matthew Watts plus long term absentee Richard Charles.
The pattern for the game was set in the first few minutes with big hits on the Widnes forwards as they tried to break down the boards. The looming presence of giant defenceman, James Pease and captain Adz Andrews dealt a psychological blow to the usual smooth passing game of the Widnes forwards.Widnes shots were few and far between for long periods of the game butthe Widnes forwards still created plenty of scoring chances.
The game opened in dramatic style with Coventry ahead after just 2 minutes – former Solihull player Louis Brindle forcing the puck home from the edge of the crease after some good work from Adam Alfody. Widnes were breaking quickly and had three one on ones on Connor Ranby in the Blaze net. A goal then could have changed the complexion of the game but as the period wore on, Greg Ruxton, in the Wild net, was forced to make two excellent saves when screened by the Coventry forwards.
The second period followed a similar pattern with Widnes unable to fully impose themselves on the game and Coventry always looking threatening when attacking. The second goal came in the 32nd minute. Widnes mounted some sustained attacking and an equaliser looked inevtable but instead Coventry. broke clear up the ice and Rhys Gillatt beat Ruxton.
Two goals down and desperate to get into the game Wild pressed to get on the score sheet but it was Coventry who struck with a third goal just two minutes into the period. Wild were taking too many minor penalties and Coventry took advantage of a man advantage for Rhys Gillatt to tip in a thunderous james Pease shot . Physical tiredness was creeping in and Greg Ruxton had to make an incredible glove save to keep the puck out of the top corner. Ben Brown, Filip Supa, Joe Charlton and Bobby Caunce were still causing problems for the Coventry defence but a goal simply would not come. The game was settled beyond all doubt in the 50th minute when as Widnes sat a penalty, Coventry took numerical advantage and Joshua Gent fired home from close range. Greg Ruxton took the MVP for Widnes, bravely keeping out 38 of the 42 shots fired at him.
A dejected squad made the late night journey home but this defeat can stand the team in good stead for future fixtures. They were up against experienced physical opponents with sufficient know how to capitalise on mistakes. Even in defeat, Wild showed glimpses of their attacking potential ahead of next weekends big home league debut.
Next Sunday, 27th October, sees the eagerly awaited first home league fixture against North West rivals, Blackburn Eagles. Much interest has been generated in the Widnes area. The game starts at 6.15 but spectators are advised to arrive early to be sure of a seat.