SWINDON head coach Ryan Aldridge questioned his players’ will to win after Wildcats were sunk 6-3 at lowly Telford last night.
Although Swindon travelled to Shropshire with only 14 fit players, Aldridge stressed that he and his team only had themselves to blame for taking nothing away from the EPL clash.
He said: “We were really shortbenched and they had three or four lines of players, but I just think we didn’t want it, plain and simple. We didn’t show up from the start of the game.
“We know we’re successful when we play defensively, but we were only trying to play one way, we were trying to score too many goals.
“In the last period we couldn’t really come back, if you are losing already it’s tough to come back because you’ve got no legs left.”
Aldridge admitted forward Jonas Hoog and netminder Tom Murdy would probably want to forget the game for differing reasons.
Hoog gifted the short-handed hosts their sixth, while Murdy was hauled off in the second period after the fourth goal flew in.
“We messed up on the powerplay and that was the back-breaker basically,” said Aldridge.
“Telford scored a couple of goals tonight that Tom Murdy would want back, but he wasn’t getting an awful lot of help, to be honest. Defensive errors killed us.”
Telford started brightly but it was the visitors that took the lead against the run of play, when Sam Bullas broke out and rammed high past Declan Ryan (3.27).
The equaliser arrived at 10.26 through James Preece, who expertly rounded D-man Shane Moore and shot low into the net from a tight angle.
With just over a minute left of the first period, the Telford powerplay broke through as Callum Bowles tapped in after the recalled Murdy saved from Juraj Senko (18.49).
At 23.03, Aaron Nell’s speculative powerplay strike from the point went all the way in, but 47 seconds later Tim Burrows made it 3-2 in a four-on-four situation.
The hosts’ momentum continued when Preece - having seconds earlier exchanged words with Bullas as the game got heated - squeezed a shot low into the left corner.
That goal prompted Swindon to replace Murdy with Dean Skinns, who had impressed against Peterborough the previous night.
But even Skinns, who has recorded save percentages in the high 90s plenty of times this season, was powerless to stop the onslaught, being beaten by the flashing wristshot of Tomas Karpov at 37.39 on the powerplay.
Within 16 seconds, Nell had pulled one back with Hoog laying on the assist, but Swindon still had two goals to make up.
That task was made even harder in the third period when Hoog gave the puck away cheaply and Karpov raced in unchallenged to beat Skinns (46.40).
Despite all their efforts, Swindon legs were visibly beginning to tire and they posed no serious threat in the final quarter of an hour.
Wildcats are next in action on Wednesday, when they welcome Slough to the Link Centre (7.45pm).