WHITLEY Warriors entered their second match in the Northern Cup with Sutton Sting with the return of player/coach Gary Dowd – and it did not take the home side long to get going.
After just one minute and 46 seconds Alex Lawson burst down the left flank, firing the puck across the face of goal for Dean Holland to tap into the Sutton goal.
Despite the continuous early attack from the home side, the Sutton Sting absorbed much pressure and managed to ask questions of home goalkeeper Liam McAllister, who proved to live up to the challenge.
The period finished 1-0 with both sides still in contention.
It was Sutton who struck first in the second period as James Spurs hit a blistering long-range strike towards the top right corner of the net, forcing a good save from McAllister.
However, Craig Thurston pounced on the loose puck to make it 1-1. Only 15 seconds later Warriors defender Simon Heir was sent to the sin bin for two minutes and the Warriors came under constant pressure.
Even when the teams became even again Sutton were still on top but could not capitalise.
With just three minutes of the period left Alex Lawson of the home side was sin-binned for 10 minutes for misconduct.
This seemed to provoke a response for the Warriors who began to pick their game pace and physicality up a level.
The end-to-end period finished 1-1, setting up a mouthwatering final period.
The third period began at a frantic pace.
Both sides had several chances within the first few minutes but both goalkeepers were having great games.
The end-to-end action could have gone either way with Warriors captain D J Good spearheading several attacks.
More attacking space became available as both defences tired, but despite the favourable conditions neither side could break the deadlock.
With eight minutes remaining and D J Good sin-binned for two minutes for slashing, Sutton called a time-out. Sean Ashton scored seconds later.
Two minutes remained and the Warriors were camped in Sutton’s third but still could not convert pressure to points.
With 20 seconds remaining the Warriors pulled their goalkeeper to give an extra man, but Richard Oliver hit a long shot to seal a Sutton victory.