Sport

Manchester Phoenix’s EPL title hopes damaged by double defeat to Basingstoke Bison and Peterborough Phantoms

By Steven Oldham

James Ferrara’s overtime winner for Peterborough Phantoms consigned Manchester Phoenix to a second defeat in as many days last night.

Phantoms scored a valuable away victory over Phoenix, winning 4-3 in overtime after the sides finished level after three periods.

The last-minute defeat topped a disappointing weekend for Phoenix, who were turned over 3-1 by title rivals Basingstoke Bison on Saturday.

Forward Tom Duggan said: “We just fell short tonight. It’s a disappointing result for us, but we are focused and looking forward.”

The weekend’s results leave Phoenix third in the table with 51 points, three behind leaders and reigning champions Guildford Flames, who also have a game in hand on the Altrincham team.

Bison are second and have a two point lead over Phoenix, however they failed to take full advantage, falling to a shock 5-1 reverse at Bracknell Bees last night.

In a close game at the Ice Dome, Phantoms took the lead in the first period through Jamie Line on four minutes, but a quickfire reply from Michal Psurny and a strike from Richard Bentham saw the home side leading into the first break.

Peterborough levelled however just after the half hour through Jamie Graham, but Phoenix’s top scorer Psurny again responded within two minutes to re-establish a two goal cushion.

Jorge El-Hage played a rare full game last night as a result of regular netminder Steve Fone’s groin injury and made several impressive saves.

James Glowa capped a period of Phantoms pressure to take the equaliser on 45 minutes and despite Phoenix pouring forward on the powerplay, the game ended level.

Manchester were left to rue not taking advantage as Glowa returned to create the deciding goal – his crucial pass set Ferrara up to steal a dramatic victory.

Despite taking the lead at Basingstoke on Saturday through captain Luke Boothroyd, Phoenix could not capitalise and goals from player coach Doug Sheppard and Joe Greener in the second period gave the home side the advantage.

Fone was slow to get to his feet after Greener’s goal, with fears about a recurrence of a troublesome groin injury proven by him not icing yesterday.

The final blow came from a famliar foe, as it so often does in team sport. Ex Phoenix forward Joe Millar scored the game’s fourth and decisive goal.

Phoenix will look to regroup before this weekend’s double header against Bracknell Bees.  The home leg is on Saturday, with face off at 7pm.  The return leg starts at 6pm on Sunday in Berkshire.

Bees have won their past three games, but Phoenix have come out on top on all three occasions the clubs have met this season, the highlight being a 7-1 romp at the Ice Dome in October.

Tickets are available at www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk or on the door.

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Photo courtesy of Rai Pekannen, with thanks  

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