As their country’s football team performed its latest episode of ‘glorious failure’,  Solway Sharks looked to provide some much needed cheer for their supporters by attempting to defeat the Blackburn Hawks and consolidate their place at the top of Northern Cup group A.
The Hawks were coming into the game on the back of a comprehensive 7-0 defeat to the Telford Tigers, while the Sharks were full of confidence after a hard fought 4-2 victory over the Solihull Barons.
The previous night’s efforts looked to have taken their toll on both teams as the opening ten minutes provided little final third activity and plenty of puck turnover.  The first save wasn’t made until six minutes in when Kieran Brown shot straight at Hepburn from a narrow angle.  Solway responded immediately with a shot from the hash marks that was deflected into the mask of Niks Trapans.
The first penalty of the game was awarded to the home side, Richard Bentham taking 2 minutes for hooking.  Sharks used the extra man well and worked patiently to manoveur the Hawks out of position only to find Trapans in imperious form, saving 3 shots in quick succession with pad, blocker and glove.
With the penalty killed off it was Hawks turn to take the ascendancy. Despite some sustained pressure in the Sharks zone they failed to test Hepburn.  It was from a  another Hawks attack that the first goal came, however it went the way of last years Moralee Champions.
A quick counter attack saw Daniel Abercrombie fire home from close to the hash marks after Duncombe failed to intercept what appeared to be an innocuous dump into the Hawks zone by Steven Moore.
Hawks thought they had tied the game just before the interval when Brown slotted into the bottom corner, only for it to be ruled out for offside.

The second period started with Hawks striving to gain parity.  Viney and Davies were foiled in quick succession.  The momentum was now with Blackburn,  however Boothroyd was adjudged to have hooked his opponent  shortly after a boarding call against the Sharks went unpunished.  This incensed the home crowd as they voiced the disproval at referee Miller.
Their mood wasn’t helped a few minutes later when the resurgent Bowie proved to be the Sharks ‘hero’ slotting home after smart work from Henderson.  Bowie is in a rich vein of form since his return to the Sharks line up.

Final period….If the first 2 periods offered little in the way of excitement, the final stanza was the complete opposite.  After killing a minor too many men penalty Blackburn flipped the game on its head with 3 goals in 3 minutes….

Firstly Davies was on hand to poke home in front of the net after persistence from the classy James Neil.  Neil was again instrumental in the go ahead goal, shielding the puck with skill and strength to set up youngster Royds who lit Hepburns lamp.  The Hawks now led for the first time in the game.

The coupe du grace was delivered by Baldwin.  His speculative wrist shot from the blue line somehow evaded the grasp of Hepburn allowing his side to complete the victory.  The netminder looked completely shell shocked at what had just happened.  Not helped by the friendly advice being offered from the balcony.

Chris Riley

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