Sport

Manchester Phoenix ready for playoffs after demolishing Peterborough Phantoms and Bracknell Bees

By Steven Oldham 

Tony Hand’s free-scoring Manchester Phoenix scored an impressive 15 goals this weekend as they continue to build momentum ahead of the end-of-season playoffs. 

Phoenix comfortably beat Peterborough Phantoms 7-2 at home on Saturday night before brushing aside Bracknell Bees 8-4 away on Sunday, and have now won six games in a row in all competitions. 

Bari McKenzie was Phoenix’s star of the weekend, netting two goals in both games. Michal Psurny and James Archer both added three goals apiece. 

Speaking after Saturday’s win, Coach Hand said: “A good performance by the whole team tonight against a team we have had a few problems with in the past. 

We are playing well as we wind down the regular season and look to the play offs.” 

Phoenix had lost the two previous meetings to Phantoms, including a heavy 9-4 reverse last month. 

Archer put Phoenix ahead after four minutes, before Ondrej Lauko equalised before Manchester again took the lead through Psurny, but Lauko proved a resilient opponent and levelled the scores again to leave the teams 2-2 after the first period. 

This was as good as it got for Phantoms as Phoenix ran riot for the remainder of the game. Ondrej Pozivil restored the lead and this time there was no coming back for Peterborough. 

McKenzie made it 4-2 on 35 minutes, with assists from Archer and Tom Duggan, giving Manchester a comfortable two-goal cushion heading into the final period. 

Three goals in the first five minutes killed any chance of a Peterborough comeback, with McKenzie, Psurny and Archer all wrapping up braces before the game reached the 45-minute mark. 

McKenzie picked up man of the match and the Scot carried this form into Sunday’s away game in Bracknell. 

He scored twice, with one goal apiece for Psurny, Archer, Liam Chong, Joachim Flaten, Andy McKinney and captain Luke Boothroyd. 

The four-point weekend leaves Phoenix third in the EPL with four games of the regular season left – Hand’s men now face double headers against the league’s bottom sides, Sheffield Steeldogs and Telford Tigers. 

Phoenix’s War of the Roses rivals Steeldogs have suffered a miserable season and will miss the playoffs as they are eight points adrift of eighth-placed Bracknell. 

The clubs haven’t met since December when Steeldogs won 8-4 at home, and the league table often goes out of the window in derby matches between the two clubs. 

Hand will also be wary of Telford, who despite finishing bottom of the table again, have shocked the top teams including Phoenix on occasion this season. 

Phoenix travel to Telford on Saturday before hosting Steeldogs in the penultimate game at the Ice Dome this season on Sunday evening. 

The game starts at 5.30pm and tickets are available via www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk  

Follow @spoldham on Twitter 

Photo courtesy of Rai Pekannen, with thanks  

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