THE Wightlink Islanders hopes of winning this year’s National League KO Cup took a big dive following a very disappointing display last night in the first leg of their semi-final against the Dudley Heathens at Wolverhampton.
They have left themselves a huge mountain to climb in the second leg at Smallbrook on July 3rd in that they have to pull back a twenty-eight point if they are to reach this year’s final after being soundly beaten 60-32 last night.
It was a performance that the club’s management angry and supporters who had made the journey to Monmore Green shaking their heads in sheer disbelief for, at the interval stage after the first nine heats last night, the Wightlink Islanders were still very much in the match as they trailed by just eight points at 32-24. But from then on they simply fell apart conceding an incredible five maximum heat advantages to the home side in the last six heats.
Speaking after the meeting an angry team manager commented, “Quite frankly what we saw from the team tonight was simply not acceptable to both myself and joint manager Kevin Shepherd, club chairman Brian Ginders and, most importantly our fans and the fact that we only produced one of the fifteen heat winners speaks for itself. We’ve made our feelings known to the team and made it clear that we won’t hesitate to make changes to our team if performances don’t improve – and quickly!”
With those words ringing in his ears, skipper Danny Warwick admitted, “It was very disappointing indeed and everyone in the team were extremely upset to go down by so many points. It obviously leaves us a massive task in the return leg next month but I can assure everyone at the club that we will certainly be trying everything to pull the deficit back.
“No excuses and it was hard work for us against a good team on their home track and a team that were so much quicker out of the starts than us and showing that we are just not race sharp at the moment. We had so few meetings of late because of postponements due to the weather etc and that hasn’t allowed us to get into any sort of rhythm but my message to our fans is stick with us – we WILL get it right.”
MATCH DETAILS – NL KOC SEMI 1st Leg:
FINAL SCORE: Dudley Heathens 60 Wightlink Islanders 32
Wightlink Islanders scorers: Kyle Hughes 7+1, Danny Stoneman 6+3, Danny Warwick 6, Gary Cottham 5+1, Paul Starke 4, Ben Hopwood 3+1, Aaron Baseby 1
Next Action: This coming Tuesday at Smallbrook v Rye House Raiders getting underway at the usual time of 7.30pm. A full match preview will be issued over the weekend.
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