AARON Nell insisted Swindon Wildcats were forced to work right to the final buzzer despite securing what seemed a comfortable 5-2 victory over high-flying Guildford last night.
The hosts were always in control after leading 4-1 at the end of the first period, thanks to a brace from Nell and strikes from Henri Sandvik and Jan Kostal, and never looked like losing the contest against a Flames side far from their best.
Despite picking up the classy victory in front of a packed Link Centre, Nell insisted he and his teammates couldn ‘t afford to drop their concentration levels one bit in the clash against the side sitting second in the league table.
“We played really well, especially given we knew another defeat would make it a really bad weekend for us,” he said. “Guildford are a really good team so to get a good result like that is great for us.
“We can’t have any excuses anymore because we have so much belief, especially at home, and we need to be winning games like this more often.
“Against other teams it might have been easy to coast to a win when you are so far up but Guildford aren’t like that and we had to play really hard to keep them to the outside. Our D were excellent and that was huge for us.
“I don’t think the scoreline flattered us at all and we definitely deserved the win, but when you’re up so far with Stevie (Lyle) in goal you know you are in a very good position.”
The first chance of the game went to the Wildcats but Kostal failed to make contact with the puck from Lee Richardson’s pass, but the hosts did soon have the lead when Nell flicked home after less than two minutes.
Wildcats’ early dominance looked like it could fade as the Flames worked their way into the contest without ever really testing Lyle, but, almost out of nothing, Jonas Hoog did what he has done so many times in the past as he picked out Nell following a mazy dribble to allow the Brit to fire home his and his side’s second.
The hosts’ tails were up and they sensed the opportunity to kill their visitors off and when Henri Sandvik bundled his way through a host of Flames bodies as he screened his way across the visiting goal to slam home. Cats’ third goal forced the visitors into a change of netminder, with Mark Lee taking over between the pipes, and although Dean Holland grabbed one back for his side following a rebound off Lyle, the hosts lead was soon three again as import Kostal found the net with five minutes left of the opening period.
Cats killed the remaining seconds of Shane Moore’s slashing penalty without any trouble at the start of the second period before Floyd Taylor and Nell both had efforts saved, and when Jez Lundin was in the bin Alex Symonds pounced to thump home a powerplay goal following assists from Kostal and Sandvik.
Lyle made a great stop to deny Ben Campbell as Cats kept hold of their lead before a raft of penalties from which neither side could make their numerical advantages count.
A quiet third period came and went with only a solitary Marcus Kristofferson strike for Guildford to cheer about as the dominant Cats secured the points which strengthen their charge up the EPL table.