Lightning fan the Flames to qualify for the finals

Lightning celebrate. Pics: Jez Tibbetts
Lightning celebrate. Pics: Jez Tibbetts

Milton Keynes Lightning are Coventry bound after pulling off the shock result of the English Premier League play off quarter finals - defeating Guildford Flames 7-5 on aggregate.

Lightning went into the second leg clash as underdogs having finished the league season in seventh place while the Surrey opposition ended runners-up.

But league form counted for nothing as Nick Poole’s charges took a 3-2 advantage from the first leg on Saturday into the encounter at the Spectrum Centre 24 hours later where they won 4-3.

Now Lightning will line up for the semi finals at the Skydome Arena on Saturday - ironically last year after playing their home games there while the MK Arena was refurbished they failed to reach the finals weekend.

This time they will be aiming to put things right with Telford Tigers, Peterborough Phantoms and Manchester Phoenix the other successful sides.

At Guildford Blaz Emersic got Lightning off to a cracking start after dispossessing Ben Campbell to set up an attack involving Jordan Cownie - the Slovenian scoring after 9mins 20secs.

It was Emersic who then eased a tense final few minutes for the visitors with an empty net goal set up by captain Adam Carr ten seconds from the final buzzer.

Earlier when Emersic was sin binned in the 13th minute Flames took full advantage on the powerplay to level on the night with Branislav Kvetan scoring at 14mins 2secs.

But Lightning went back in front with an unassisted Curtis Huppe strike against his old team at 17mins 33secs.

Flames got the only goal of the middle period to make it 5-4 on aggregate to Lightning - Marcus Kristofferson on the mark at 30mins 23secs.

Things got even closer 2mins 54secs into the final session as Roman Tvrdon supplied Andy McKinney to make it 3-2 to Flames on the night - level on aggregate.

But determined Lightning refused to give in and a Milan Kostourek shot hit the metalwork before Lewis Hook - supplied by Cownie - sent the MK fans Barmy Army into raptures with a goal on 51mins 55secs.

Flames took off goalie James Hadfield in favour of the extra skater in the final seconds, allowing Emersic to bank the deciding goal.

The previous evening Lightning took a two goal lead at MK Arena, only to see it wiped out before defenceman John Connolly got his first goal for the team to give them the edge for the second leg.

Hadfield was beaten just 30 seconds into the game as Hook set up Cownie to score from close range.

Home goalie Stephen Wall then made two fine saves from Danny Meyers and Matt Towe before the home outfit extended their lead.

Connolly sent Milan Kostourek away up centre ice to beat Hadfield one on one at 9mins 49secs.

The visitors reduced the deficit when Jez Lundin was provider for Marcus Kristofferson to fire an upstairs shot past Wall just over a minute later at 10mins 55secs.

After Lightning’s Michael Farn was sin binned for delaying the game on 12mins 5secs Flames took 24 seconds to hit back on the powerplay, Kristofferson the supplier for Tvrdon to rifle in from the right hand side.

The second period concluded with no further goals but both teams had chances in the opening minutes of the third session - Cownie going close and then Wall making a fine stop from Jez Lundin.

Grant McPherson was then put clear on goal only for his effort to go wide while Meyers tested Wall before Connolly’s final goal.

The strike on 48mins 10secs came from a back pass by Hook and the low rocket from the blue line caught Hadfield off guard, having been smashed through a sea of players.

There was a further chance for the home side when Kostourek went solo up the left and was only beaten by the netminder.

Flames called a timeout with 38 seconds to go, ahead of a face off to the right of the Lightning goal but they were unable to find the equaliser as the clock counted down.

It was the first time since they joined the EPL nine years ago that Guildford have failed to reach the play-off semi finals.