SWINDON Wildcats were able to stop the rot with a 3-3 draw with Telford Tigers in the opening leg of their National Cup semi-final at the Link Centre.

With the Cats looking to avoid a fourth straight defeat, they were under an ambush early on as Telford Tigers looked to assert a physical style on the game.

At first, the Wildcats looked to have been caught out with a few big hits on the likes of Neil Liddiard and Luc Johnson.

However, enforcer Sam Bullas was on hand to even things up with a few tasty challenges of his own before the hosts grew into the game.

As the Wildcats were turning the screw, Aaron Nell came close to breaking the deadlock halfway through the opening period as his shot on the turn rattled the post.

The period was drawing to a close and remained goalless until the dying moments when Nell lashed home with 1:16 left to hand his troops a narrow advantage at the interval.

In the second period Telford drew level in the 25th minute through Nick Oliver, who’s long range strike was covered by the Cats backline, only for it to find a way through to the back of the net.

As the game wore on both teams were looking to get ahead going into the final instalment but were unable to do so as it finished 1-1.

The third and final period saw the visitors take the lead for the first time when Dale White struck, but Nell was able to drag his side level less than 45 seconds later with a sublime finish at 45:16.

Filip Supa got the Tigers in front yet again, but not for long as Phil Hill was able to claw it back with less than 20 seconds to go as his strike salvaged a draw.

Ahead of the second leg next Tuesday in Shropshire, Nell says the tie is still in their hands as they look to make a second cup final.

“I think we are in two minds, we obviously wanted to win tonight but getting the goal at the end was big,” said Nell, who heaped praise on goalscorer Hill. “We just have to go on next Tuesday and get a tough win. I think we were actually better over the weekend.

“We need to bounce back, we have a busy run of games now and next Tuesday will be our biggest game of the season.

“We’ve been starting well recently, we just need to keep on pushing once we have made that good start.

“I thought we were good and physical in the first period, then in the second and third, they wanted it more than us.

“In a home semi-final, that should not happen. So now we need to go and get a tough result next week.

“He (Hill) started the game fantastically today and he is just someone who all our players should take examples from.

Nell will immediately turn his attention to tomorrow's league clash with Invicta Dynamos, where they will be without skipper Jan Kostal, despite him featuring in their home draw.

“I’d rather not have the game tomorrow, but I can’t control the weather. If I could control the weather, I would be a millionaire,” added Nell, who notched twice in their National Cup tie.

“It is one of those things, it is tough and it definitely isn’t ideal but what can you you do about it.”