The YKK sponsored Widnes Wild put in a battling performance in their opening competitive game of the new season away to Blackburn Hawks in the NIHL North Midlands Cup on Saturday, but eventually ended up on the losing side by 5 goals to 4.
The game saw Richard Haggar’s new look Widnes team come up against a lot of familiar faces in the Blackburn line up as, due to the relatively close proximity, there has been a lot of interchange of players over the years and these games are always very keenly contested.
The opening stages were very tense – with both teams testing each other out and neither wanting to give anything away – and it took until the 17th minute before former Wild player Lee Pollitt gave Blackburn the lead.
Tom Stubley equalised for Widnes just 90 seconds later but a further strike for the Hawks just 45 seconds after that handed the home side a 2-1 lead at the first period break.
The second period was just as close and pretty much the same thing happened as another former Wild player – Matt Wainwright – edged Blackburn further into the lead on 37 minutes and then new Widnes import – Latvian Vlads Vulkanovs – pulled a goal back just a minute later. However, Pollitt was on target once again for Blackburn with just three seconds left in the period to leave the score standing at 4-2 to the Hawks.
The third period saw the Wild move up a gear and two goals within 90 seconds of each other – from Vulkanovs and then Nathan Britton – saw them pull level with 15 minutes still to play. Unfortunately, they were unable to build further on this positive spell and the score remained deadlocked at 4-4 as the clock slowly ticked down.
The decisive blow came with just under two minutes left to play when Blackburn scored what turned out to be the winning goal – interestingly enough from another former Widnes player, Michal Novak.
- Saturday 11th September 2021 – NIHL Midlands Cup
- Blackburn Hawks 5 – YKK Widnes Wild 4
- Period Scores: 2-1, 2-1, 1-2
- Shots On Goal: Blackburn 55 – Widnes 34
- Penalties In Minutes: Blackburn 4 – Widnes 4
- MVPs: Blackburn – Lee Pollitt, Widnes – Vlads Vulkanovs
- Match Officials: David Emmerson (Referee), Stuart Smith & William Fielden (Linesmen)
- Report by Paul Breeze
- Photos by Geoff White