Manchester Phoenix’s four point weekend after successive victories over Telford Tigers has helped them close the gap to EPL leaders Guildford Flames.
In two close games against the league’s bottom team, Phoenix triumphed 4-2 at home on Saturday and 4-3 away yesterday – and influential coach Tony Hand scored in both games.
Coupled with Guildford’s 5-2 reverse at Slough Jets on Saturday, the gap has narrowed to six points as the Altrincham based club attempt to retain the EPL title.
Phoenix’s injury troubles, which have nagged them for the majority of the season, continued with the absence of Slava Koulikov and the last minute withdrawal of Jaroslav Spelda following the warm up in Saturday’s game.
Telford were missing six players themselves, though to their credit they gave Phoenix a tough weekend which ultimately finished without reward.
Hand opened the scoring on Saturday, and further goals from Ciaran Long, Stephen Wallace and Juraj Faith were enough to give Phoenix victory despite Josh Henry and Scott McKenzie twice levelling the score for the visitors.
Tom Duggan won man of the match and he was pleased to secure two points.
He said: “Telford are the sort of team you have to put away. It wasn’t pretty, but a win’s a win and we’ll take that going forward.”
Phoenix completed the double yesterday thanks to goals from Hand, Ladzi Harabin and a Martin Cingel double.
Despite dominating the majority of the game, Phoenix made hard work for themselves by conceding soft goals and not taking full advantage of their authority over the game.
Hand will know that his team rode their luck, and may have come unstuck against a better team than Telford.
Ryan Selwood, Vince Connon and McKenzie all equalised the game for Telford before Hand himself found the net for the game’s final and decisive goal.
This weekend sees Phoenix travel to arch rivals Sheffied Steeldogs on Saturday before hosting Slough Jets on Sunday at the Ice Dome.
The usual face off time of 5.30 applies and tickets can be bought via www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk or at the venue.
Follow Steven Oldham on Twitter – @spoldham