MATCH REPORT: ‘Four-some’ weekend leads to surge up the table

Robbie Ferrara (left) scored his first Phantoms goal of the season at Bracknell.
Robbie Ferrara (left) scored his first Phantoms goal of the season at Bracknell.

They might be low on players, but Peterborough Phantoms certainly aren’t short of points.

The city team battled to a 7-4 success at bottom side Bracknell last night (October 30) to complete a first weekend double of the English Premier League season after slamming Guildford 5-0, 24 hours earlier.

James Archer scored for Phantoms at Bracknell, but then picked up an injury.

James Archer scored for Phantoms at Bracknell, but then picked up an injury.

The victories earned Phantoms a rapid rise as they jumped up three places into the top half of the standings.

And it has been a case of triumphing over adversity for a roster depleted by injuries and international duty.

“I’m very happy with the performances, results and every guy who contributed to them,” said coach Slava Koulikov.

“We were not worried that we hadn’t had a four-point weekend before now because we started the season with a really tough set of fixtures, and have then had a lot of guys missing.

Phantoms import Wehebe Darge was ejected from the match at Bracknell.

Phantoms import Wehebe Darge was ejected from the match at Bracknell.

“But it is always a good confidence booster to win both games in a weekend as it is not easy in such an unpredictable league.

“The fact we scored a lot of goals in the process and made a big jump in the table makes it even more pleasing.

“The work ethic, the commitment and the togetherness of the guys has been superb at a difficult time.”

But the success at Bracknell – a 19th in succession against the Berkshire side – was marred by another setback as forward James Archer suffered a knee injury when battling by the boards in the final period.

Archer, who had earlier been one of three Phantoms players to strike twice as he ended a lengthy goal drought, took no further part in the game and will be assessed during this week.

The former Manchester man struck the first blow as Phantoms took command in the opening session. Darius Pliskauskas and Petr Stepanek also found the net as they built up a three-goal cushion before the first buzzer.

That was reduced slightly in the middle period when the sides shared four goals and both saw a player thrown out.

Stepanek and Archer both struck again for Phantoms, who had import Wehebe Darge ejected on a game penalty.

The Australian forward dished out retribution to Bracknell man Josh Tetlow, who also received his marching orders, following an ugly hit on Marc Levers.

His dismissal further reduced Koulikov’s already depleted roster with Sam Towner and Connor Glossop again missing through injury, and Martins Susters off on international duty with the Latvian Under 20 side. They actually ended the game with only seven fit forwards and four defencemen!

A rare Robbie Ferrara goal – his first of the season - extended Phantoms’ advantage again early in the final session, but basement boys Bracknell refused to roll over.

A short-handed Luka Basic strike and an Alex Barker effort brought the Bees back into contention and they pulled netminder Alex Mettam late on in a desperate comeback bid.

But it was Phantoms who found the net again as Pliskauskas fired into an empty net during a powerplay to clinch a hard-fought success and complete a long-awaited perfect weekend.

Phantoms will aim to register a clean sweep of home successes over Swindon when hosting the Wildcats for the third time this season on Saturday (November 5). They’ve already beaten them twice at Planet Ice this term.

A first visit of the campaign to Manchester Phoenix, at their temporary home in Blackpool, follows the next night.

MATCH DETAILS

Goals

BRACKNELL

24:10 Gaborcik ass: Smital/Foord

35:39 Smital ass: Spearing/Lascenko

46:04 Basic (SH) ass: Thompson

55:44 Barker ass: Basic/Galazzi

PHANTOMS

3:20 Archer ass: White/Robson

8:50 Pliskauskas ass: Levers/Padelek

13:45 Stepanek ass: Weldon/White

32:30 Stepanek ass: Weldon/Archer

39:11 Archer ass: Stepanek/Levers

43:57 R. Ferrara ass: Pliskauskas/Weldon

58:54 Pliskauskas (PP/ENG) ass: Padelek/Auzins

Men-of-the-match

BRACKNELL – Luka Basic

PHANTOMS – Petr Stepanek