Tigers test for Lions after first win on the road

MK LIONS return to the Winterhill floor on Thursday night, four days after they recorded their first away win of the season at Guildford Heat.

Their 87-83 victory in Surrey was Lions’ first Championship success on the road since back in April, and the first time this term that they’ve achieved back-to-back wins.

That double over Worcester and Guildford will give Mike New’s side some much needed confidence as they close in on the play-off places - and they’ll certainly need it when league leaders Mersey Tigers visit on Thursday.

Lions just about kept their cool to sink seven free-throws in the dying minutes against Heat, holding off a strong fightback from the hosts as some strange refereeing decisions looked like conspiring to prevent a well deserved victory.

Heat began well - a three-pointer from Martelle McLemore gave them a 5-0 lead, which they stretched out to 17-7 before the visitors began to find their range. Heat’s double-digit lead was whittled away to 21-19 on the back of good play from Travis Nelson and Demarious Bold, but it was the hosts who eventually had the final word of the first period to take a 21-19 lead.

Threes from Yorick Williams and Stefan Gill gave Lions their first lead at 25-26, but it was to be short-lived as Heat put together a 12-5 burst to move 37-31 ahead. Then an 8-0 run just before the break - capped by a McLemore three - gave Heat their biggest lead of the night at 45-33.

Lions turned the match around in the third quarter though - the hosts’ lead cut to 46-44 on the back of an excellent 11-1 burst for the visitors, before a 7-0 run for Lions had them 58-54 to the good. All this built on their stifling defence that made the hosts cough up 30 turnovers.

Myers nailed a four-point play at the start of the final session, before Nelson followed suit as Lions were dominant. And they looked safe as Gill scored five points to stretch the lead to 67-79.

However, a Michael Martin three started an 8-0 Heat burst and calm heads were needed for Lions - with Clarke and Williams seeing them to victory at 87-83.

After their clash against Tigers on Thursday, Lions get their chance to make it back-to-back away wins as they head to Worthing on Saturday.