Ruthless Peterborough Phantoms showed no mercy to the English Premier League basement boys when roaring to their biggest win of the season last night (November 27).
The city men slammed rock-bottom Manchester 9-1 at Planet Ice to followed up a success at another set of strugglers, Bracknell, 24 hours earlier.
The four-point weekend came complete with 14 goals for a Phantoms team who are now the league’s fourth highest scorers after running dry in the early weeks of the season.
Those days are now a distant memory with coach Slava Koulikov having a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal across all lines – a point proven by the fact their nine strikes last night were shared by seven different players.
“It was really pleasing that the guys performed for the full 60 minutes despite the big scoreline,” said Koulikov.
“Manchester are short-staffed and the second game of a weekend is always tough in a situation like that, but we only ever focus on ourselves.
“We needed to win the game for league points and to keep our chances of making it into the semi-finals of the EPL Cup alive.
“It was important for us to get on top early on and four goals in the first period was a great start.
“But we told the guys to treat it as though it was still a 0-0 game and to make sure they continued to do all the right things.
“They were excellent from start to finish and I can’t remember having too many bigger scorelines than this in the last few years.”
It was actually Phantoms’ largest triumph since an 11-0 drubbing of Hull just over a year ago. The Pirates were then propping up the EPL just as Phoenix are doing now.
Will Weldon and James Ferrara combined in slick fashion for the opening two goals last night – the former made the breakthrough before the latter doubled the advantage.
A powerplay past from big Petr Stepanek and an expertly-taken Darius Pliskauskas breakaway effort on a delayed penalty completed Phantoms’ haul in the opening session and all but sealed victory after only a third of the contest.
Shell-shocked Fone was taken out of the fiting line, but replacement Denis Bell fared little better as he was beaten by Stepanek just 72 seconds into the middle session.
Janis Auzins’ hopes of a shut-out were dashed when Robin Kovar got the final touch during a bout of pinball in the Phantoms’ zone a couple of minutes later.
That was the only one of the visitors’ 25 efforts to find their way past the big Latvian – less than half of the attempts had by rampant Phantoms.
But the home side did have to wait more than 13 and a half minutes from their fourth goal before registering a fifth through Martins Susters – the longest gap between a goal on the night.
And three more goals followed in the final stanza as Phantoms continued to play with hunger and zest against disheartened opponenets.
Ales Padelek bundled his way through the Phoenix zone to get in on the act before Pliskauskas bagged his second of the night.
Former Manchester man James Archer then deflected in a Ben Russell shot as a chorus of ‘we want 10’ broke out from the Bretton faithful.
But those craving double-figures were to be disappointed as Pliskauskas slammed a fine opportunity over the bar before Bell pulled off a terrific save from Wehebe Darge.
However, the win allowed Phantoms to climb back into fourth place in the EPL standings as Basingstoke were beaten in Hull.
The city side have only game in each of the next two weekends – and both are home clashes against lowly Bracknell. The first of those is on December 4 (5.30pm).
6:40 Weldon ass: J. Ferrara/Auzins
10:00 J. Ferrara ass: Weldon/Pliskauskas
12:20 Stepanek (PP) ass: Robson/Padelek
18:42 Pliskauskas (DP) ass: J. Ferrara/R.Ferrara
21:12 Stepanek ass: Padelek/Susters
34:49 Susters ass: Stepanek
42:14 Padelek ass: Stepanek
46:20 Pliskauskas ass: Stubley/Robson
54:39 Archer ass: Russell/Weldon
23:20 Kovar ass: Bebris/Tuominen
PHANTOMS – Will Weldon
MANCHESTER – Luke Boothroyd