WIDNES Wild suffered their first home defeat in almost a year as they lost 4-3to Sheffield Senators at Silver Blades on Sunday.

Stuart Brittle netted twice and Elvis Veldze got in on the scoring act for Wild but it proved not to be enough.

The two teams had already met once this season – away in Sheffield at the end of September – where the Wild came away with a 5-4 victory, so another tough game was expected.

Things started fairly positively for the Wild as their former Sheffield pairing of Brittle and Ollie Barron combined well to open the scoring after just 2½ minutes of play.

The same duo struck again in the 14th minute and things looked to be going the way of the home team until disaster struck less than a minute later and the Senators pulled a goal back.

The score remained 2-1 going into the first period break and, although the Wild had been narrowly out-shot by 10 to 12, there was nothing to suggest that there was any cause for concern.

The match turned sharply in the visitors’ favour in the second period when the Wild seemed unable to mount any sustained attack on the Sheffield goal – managing just seven shots in the 20 minutes, compared with the Senators’ tally of 30.

Widnes netminder Phil Crosby performed heroics in front of goal and his outstanding performance eventually led to him being named most valuable player for the team at the end of the game.

However, the almost incessant bombardment was bound to reap dividends sooner or later and the Senators scored the equalising goal with 34 minutes gone on the clock.

The Wild continued to battle valiantly but were pegged back by a number of penalties and were unable to breach the highly organised Sheffield defence and the score at the end of the second period was 2-2.

The start of the third period saw a further setback for the Wild as the Senators took the lead with a delayed penalty goal just two minutes after the restart.

Widnes’ Latvian import Veldze gave the home fans some hope after a well-taken unassisted goal five minutes later put the score level again at 3-3 but there was still a lot of work to do.

The clinical Senators scored what would turn out to be the winning goal in the 52nd minute.

Wild player coach Ollie Barron said: “This was a tough defeat to take. I thought we started the first period well taking a 2-0 lead and we then seemed to stop playing our game.”

“It's fair to say the 2nd period was the worst period of hockey we have played this season and if it wasn’t for Phil Crosby, Sheffield could have been way ahead in the second.

"We played slightly better in the third, however, taking nothing away from Sheffield - they worked hard for the win and deserved the points.

"That’s hockey and that is sport. These are the first points we have dropped this season, so we must remain positive. It’s a long season with many more games to come.

“We have 2 games next weekend against difficult opposition and will have to get back to playing our game and ready to play for a full 60 minutes in both games.

"A big thanks to the fans again for turning out in great numbers, we thank you for your support and are looking forward to next weekend.”

The result sees Widnes slide down to third place in the Laidler Division table, with 14 points from their 8 games to date – 1 point behind Sheffield who have played 3 games more.

The current league leaders are the Altrincham Aces – who the Wild beat 2-1 with a dramatic overtime winner a fortnight ago in the first meeting between the two teams this season. They have 19 points from 10 games, although several of their wins have come against “lower table” opposition who the Wild have yet to play.

The Wild have the opportunity to make up ground on the teams above them with two games this weekend.

On Saturday they travel to Coventry to take on the mid-table Blaze team who they beat at home 5-2 at the start of the season – 7.30pm face off at the Coventry Skydome Arena - and then on Sunday they are at home to the Telford Tigers N2 team at Silver Blades Widnes in a 5.30pm face off.