JONAS Hoog admitted Swindon should have made more of their chances in last night’s 3-1 defeat at high-flying Guildford.
Wildcats were not far off emulating their EPL win at the Spectrum in October as they were level or within a goal for almost the entire game.
However, David Longstaff’s late empty-net effort made sure of victory for the hosts and Swedish forward Hoog said he was disappointed not to start 2013 in more positive style.
“I’m always disappointed when we lose. It was a bad luck new year,” he said.
“They are a good team and we played very well, but we didn’t get the goals. I had a couple of good chances tonight and I should have got at least one.
“The chances were there and with 46 shots we would have scored more.
“There’s not going to be many games like that, we always score a couple more goals than that when we have so many shots.
“You have to big up (Mark) Lee who played very well.”
Swindon were understandably set up to defend and counter against a team so offensively strong, and that was a tactic that worked well in the opening period.
Guildford looked in the mood for goals from the get-go and swiftly took control, with Dean Holland providing the first major moment of excitement when he skipped away from several challenges through the middle, running out of steam by the time he reached netminder Dean Skinns.
Swindon survived a hooking penalty on Stevie Whitfield with Nathan Rempel’s flashed effort wide the Flames’ best effort in that time.
More pressure followed from the home side before Wildcats were given breathing space when Jez Lundin was binned for hooking, although their attacking prowess was limited and Jan Melichar’s hopeful drive was as close as they came.
Hoog nearly had a one-on-one with Lee, but he was beaten in a flat-out foot race with the Flames netminder.
After former Swindon man Jozef Kohut and David Savage tried their luck early in the second period, Wildcats suddenly came back into the game, without really testing Lee.
An away powerplay brought no reward and then with Kohut and Aaron Nell both off for tripping, still no breakthrough was made at either end.
Then, with the period seemingly destined to end goalless, three goals arrived within five minutes.
These hosts seized the initiative at 34.57 when Rempel received the puck from Ben Campbell and sent a fizzing wristshot high into the net at the near post.
The home supporters might have thought that would settle frayed nerves, but Nicky Watt replied almost instantly as he tapped in after Ryan Aldridge had failed to convert in front of the net (37.07).
However, Guildford once again gave themselves a one-goal cushion with 12 seconds left of the period, when following Tomas Fojtik’s removal for hooking, points-scoring machine Longstaff beat Skinns with a well-struck shot.
For the majority of period three, there was only one side in it in an attacking sense. Swindon constantly asked questions of the Flames rearguard, which by hook or by crook, came up with the answers.
First Hoog’s shot was snaffled to safety after he was teed up by Nell, before Sam Bullas twice went close and Matias Perkkio put the puck in the net - albeit the wrong side.
Floyd Taylor had only an instant to react when the puck dropped to him in front of the net and he could only poke over, while Bullas fired against the head of Lee.
Skinns distinguished himself with saves from Rempel and Kohut, before a powerplay with five minutes left gave the visitors a chance of redemption.
However, Swindon’s best chances of the night had already gone and when Skinns was pulled, they were left vulnerable.
Longstaff duly wrapped up the match with a wonderful finish, scooping over the one remaining defenceman and into the net with 28 seconds to play.
Swindon face Basingstoke at the Link Centre tonight (7.45pm) as they aim to get back on track.
“They are leading the league so it’s another big game,” added Hoog.
“We need two points to help us get up the table.”