BRADFORD BULLDOGS kept their Laidler North Two playoff hopes alive after saving their best until last to run out 5-2 winners at Altrincham Aces.
The result sees Andy Brown’s team remain in fifth spot but they are now within one point of Sutton Sting, who currently occupy the fourth and final playoff berth and have a game in hand.
The Bulldogs have three regular season games remaining, one of which is against Sutton and which could now determine who makes it through to the final four playoff finals weekend at Widnes on April 16-17.
In Altrincham on Sunday, though, the Bulldogs made hard work of it, giving up a two-goal lead before rallying to score three unanswered goals in the last seven minutes.
“It was a good result and nice to see us build on the win at home against Coventry the week before,” said head coach Brown.
“It means we’re still in with a shout of reaching the playoffs which, given the bodies we’ve been missing recently, is something of an achievement.
“It’s not going to be easy, though, and we probably need other results to go our way. We’ve got a tough game against Hull Jets this Saturday, but we’ve still got to play Sutton at some point, so you never know.”
Lucas Vince, who opened his senior goalscoring account in the recent 4-2 loss at Telford Tigers, got the ball rolling for the visitors when he pounced to make it 1-0 on a delayed penalty call with 8.38 on the board.
That was how it stayed until the latter stages of a second period in which Bulldogs’ netminder Phil Pearson came under intense pressure, turning away all but one of the 25 shots on his goal.
To increase the home side’s frustration, the Bulldogs’ lead was doubled through a power play marker from captain Dean Boothroyd at 35.55.
The host gave themselves a way back into the game before the end of the middle section, though, Alex Parry finally finding a way past Pearson at 38.28.
The Bulldogs rallied in the third, creating more scoring chances, but they were pegged back when the Aces levelled on the power play through Carl Price at 51.11.
But the Bulldogs were able to wrestle momentum back quickly, restoring their lead again less than two minutes later when VInce doubled his tally on the power play.
Tomas Mitrik made it 4-2 at 55.36 with Damarni James rounding off the scoring with just 19 seconds remaining.
Under-16s hit the road to shut out Whitley Bay
The Under-16s were also in action on Sunday, making the long trip to Whitley Bay worthwhile by recording a 3-0 win.
Frank O’Sullivan was first on the board for the visitors at 10.05 when he was quickest to react to a rebound after Oliver Massey’s initial effort had cannoned off the crossbar.
O’Sullivan doubled his tally off a feed from Danny Harrison at 19.36.
Harrison himself then got on the scoresheet when he fired home from a tight angle past Orson Groot to make it 3-0 at 25.33.
The Under-10s had another successful jamboree, this time heading down to Shropshire to take on hosts Telford, as well as Manchester and Widnes, Jack Morton getting the player of the day award.