Scimitars cut down Hounds in late flurry

A glorious season was blown to pieces nine minutes from its conclusion when Haringey lost their National final to Sheffield Scimitars on Sunday - writes Jonny Weeks.

Haringey Greyhounds 3

Sheffield Scimitars 4

A glorious season was blown to pieces nine minutes from its conclusion when Haringey lost their National final to Sheffield Scimitars on Sunday.

The Hounds twice held the lead in front of almost 2,000 fans at the Sky Dome Arena in Coventry, but tough refereeing decisions allowed the Yorkshire side to steal the trophy on power-plays in the closing stages.

"We were the better team in most areas, but I feel cheated by the referees because we got so many penalties against us we couldn't compete," fumed Hounds coach Jeff Andrews.

"Three of their goals were on power-plays and the last goal was five on three. It was a scrappy goal, but when it's five on three it's so difficult to stop the opposition from scoring. You expect them to score."

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The Hounds trailed 1-0 in the first period before gaining the lead at the start of the second with goals from two of the defensive line - Lee Mercer and Jan Bestic.

Sheffield levelled the scores going into the final period, and Nick Burton's breakaway and clever fake when he was one-on-one with the keeper gave the Hounds what looked like being a winning margin.

But as the penalties mounted and the Hounds were left short-handed, Sheffield grabbed two goals in the final nine minutes.

"We would have hammered them if we'd played the way we did in the play-offs," added Andrews. "But we played in fits and starts. We were strong at the start of the second period, but we didn't maintain it.

"We haven't played competitively for four weeks and that has probably had a negative impact on us."

The Hounds out-shot their opponents in the second period, but leading goal-scorer Scott Cannam struggled.

"Scott wasn't as sharp as he has been," said Andrews. "He found it hard out there, and again maybe that was down to not having had a game for a few weeks. But I don't regret fielding a weak side against Invicta in the last match of the play-offs.

"We were through to the final already and we knew they would have come out and fought us. There would have been so many penalties.

"Hand on heart, it was the right thing to leave the main guys out. But perhaps we should have organised another fixture to fill the gap before the final.

"I'm disappointed for all the lads and the fans, and I'm surprised that our luck has run out because we've so far and it hasn't gone right for us on the day.

"Our building plan for the season was just to get into the play-offs - so we're way ahead of schedule. It's been an amazing season and we'll all take something good from it.

"The experience of playing in front of 2,000 fans was something special. Some of the younger guys we're in awe of it.

"My job now is to pick us up and make sure we come back stronger."