SWINDON Wildcats survived a Raiders fightback to start the new National League season on a winning note with a 9-6 success at home on Saturday night.

Aaron Nell’s side produced a superb first half-hour at the Link Centre to race into a 7-0 lead, only for their London visitors to claw their way back into the contest.

The deficit had been reduced to one goal with 10 minutes to play but Swindon galvanised themselves for a late surge and two further strikes without reply from the hosts sealed the win.

Player-coach Nell admitted his side made harder work of it than they needed to for their first win, but believes the resolve shown to close the game out in the end will stand them in good stead.

“We got off to a fantastic start. For the first 30 minutes, we were exceptional and couldn’t have played better,” said Nell.

“We struggled in the next 20 minutes and we have got a lot to learn from the game.

“You don’t really want to go up by that many goals and then see the score come back to being as close as it was, but I think that will actually be better for us mentally than if we had won the game eight, nine or 10 nil.

“We had a bit of a let-down after a great start but we will take the positives and, overall, it’s a good first win against a good team.”

Max Birbraer fired Swindon in front after only three minutes before a double from Edgars Bebris and one from Sam Bullas made it 4-0 by the end of the first period.

Nell then got in on the act himself and further efforts from Tomasz Malasinki and Chris Jones made it 7-0 inside half-an-hour.

However, Blahoslav Novak started Raiders comeback with a quick-fire hat-trick and a goal from Brandon Ayliffe made it 7-4 at the end of the second period.

The visitors continued to hold the momentum in the final session as a second strike from Ayliffe and one from Jake Sylvester cut the gap to just one goal.

With their backs to the ropes, Swindon found their form when it mattered most and efforts from Floyd Taylor and Birbraer finally killed off Raiders to seal a battling win for the home side.

Nell added: “We did a lot of good things and I think we had seven scorers.

“That’s the strength of our team. We have been built to have depth and we are a really good three-line team.”

However, there was no such luck for Nell’s side on Sunday as they slipped to a 7-6 overtime loss away at Hull Pirates.

Matt Davies netted the Pirates’ winner after both teams scored six goals in normal time.

Malazinski scored a hat-trick for the Cats, Birbraer contributed a brace while player-coach Nell also got on the scoresheet, although those efforts were all in vain.