SWINDON Wildcats player-coach Aaron Nell admitted he ‘feared the worst’ after a disastrous first period away at Hull Pirates on Sunday culminated in his side going 5-1 down.

Despite being short-benched, the Pirates were still able to ice most of their best players and very quickly raced into a 4-0 lead on Humberside.

The visitors pulled one back through Sam Godfrey, only for the Pirates to regain their four-goal lead before the first buzzer at Hull Ice Arena.

There was no hint of fatigue playing a part, according to Nell, after his side blew London Raiders away 9-2 at the Link Centre the night before.

The Wildcats’ player-coach simply admitted their hosts played out of their skin and Nell was relieved to stop the bleeding once the second period commenced.

Nell said: “I thought we were very good on Saturday night against Raiders – we played the exact game we needed to play in the situation.

“And we knew Sunday against Hull was going to be tough, but they came out flying in that first period and blew us away.

“They were very good, and we weren’t as good as we need to be in those situations.

“But hats off to Hull because I’m sure that was one of the best periods they will have played this season.

“They were short, but all of their best players were on the ice a lot and that made it tough for us.”

Canadian Tyler VanKleef netted the first goal of the near-comeback before two goals from Chris Jones pulled the score back to 5-4.

And when Tomasz Malasinski squared the game with four minutes to play, Wildcats thought they had rescued a point by forcing an extremely unlikely overtime period.

However, the Pole was penalised for a tripping call moments later and Hull took their final chance to utilise their potent powerplay line by bagging the 11th goal in a 6-5 game.

Nell credited the home side for continuing to take advantage when having an extra man, but also reserved some praise for his own team’s never-say-die attitude throughout.

He said: “When it got to 5-5, we were happy to take overtime, but they’ve got a very strong powerplay and we knew it would be tough to hold out.

“They scored three powerplay goals on the night, and they executed a really nice goal.

“It’s frustrating, but I’m happy with how the team responded for the final 42 minutes because I was fearing the worst at 5-1.”