The target for Phantoms now is simple says Slava: ‘We need to win all the matches we have got left’

Darius Pliskauskas turns away after scoring the first of his two goals against Bracknell. Picture: Tom Scott
Darius Pliskauskas turns away after scoring the first of his two goals against Bracknell. Picture: Tom Scott
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Coach Slava Koulikov insists every remaining game is a big one for Phantoms.

The city team must complete four more English Premier League fixtures ahead of the play-offs, as well as having the mouth-watering prospect of an EPL Cup final against fierce rivals Milton Keynes looming large on the horizon.

Goalscorer Marc Levers carries the puck out of the Phantoms defensive zone against Bracknell. Picture: Tom Scott

Goalscorer Marc Levers carries the puck out of the Phantoms defensive zone against Bracknell. Picture: Tom Scott

The first challenge is a third-versus-fourth clash against Basingstoke at Planet Ice this Sunday (5.30pm).

Phantoms will hit their Bretton ice five points clear of the reigning champions and victory will go a long way towards sewing up another super finish for a team which continues to over-achieve in the eyes of Koulikov.

He said: “It used to be a case of ourselves over-achieving and others maybe under-estimating us.

“We’ve been competing at the top end of the table and for trophies for three years now, so I don’t believe anyone would take us lightly any longer.

Adam Long denies Bracknell's Luka Basic in close with a glove save. Picture: Tom Scott

Adam Long denies Bracknell's Luka Basic in close with a glove save. Picture: Tom Scott

“Everyone knows what my guys are about - the brilliant spirit they have and the way they fight for results for 60 minutes every night.

“But there is no doubt in my mind that we are still over-achieving massively. You only have to look at our roster and resources compared to the other teams in the top half of the table to realise that.

“A win against Basingstoke will pretty much guarantee third place and that will be the goal.

“We’ve only taken one point from our last two home games against Milton Keynes and Bracknell, and we need to get back to winning in front of our fans.

“We’re gradually getting guys back and the injury situation is starting to look a bit better.

“We need to start building momentum for the cup final and the play-offs. The target from here is simple - to win every game.”

As Koulikov mentioned, the Phantoms casualty list is finally starting to shrink.

Defenceman Ben Russell returned last Saturday in the surprise home slip-up against Bracknell following a spell out with concussion. He also had an outing for Islanders the following night.

Fellow blue-liner Scott Robson is set to return from an eight-week lay-off with concussion this weekend. He’s also been earmarked to play for Islanders on Saturday before potentially featuring for Phantoms the following night.

Import forward Wehebe Darge missed most of last weekend with what Koulikov described as an ‘upper body injury’ but he is expected back against Basingstoke.

Netminder Janis Auzins continues to undergo regular physiotherapy on the thigh problem which has kept him out for the past couple of weekends.

It is still unclear whether or not captain James Ferrara will be able to return to action this season after suffering eye injuries in a recent derby defeat against Milton Keynes.