Biggest weekend of the season for Phantoms

Goalscorer Nathan Pollard in action against the Bracknell Bees
Goalscorer Nathan Pollard in action against the Bracknell Bees
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Forward star Nathan Pollard believes Phantoms can fire themselves back to the forefront of the NIHL Division One South title race this weekend.

The 25 year-old has been one of the unsung heroes of a terrific season in which the city club have already lifted the NIHL Autumn Cup, moved into pole position to reach the final of the NIHL South Cup and established themselves as contenders for league honours.

They now turn their attention back to the latter competition when facing their two biggest rivals for the crown.

Third-placed Phantoms travel to reigning champions Basingstoke, who currently sit second, on Saturday (6.30pm) before hosting table-topping title favourites Swindon at Planet Ice on Sunday, 5.30pm.

And after suffering defeats at the hands of both of those teams on successive nights last month, Phantoms are out to set the record straight.

“There’s no doubt it’s the biggest weekend of the season,” said Pollard.

“We dropped points to Swindon and Basingstoke recently and it would be great if we could go and pick up two wins.

“The league title is still ours to lose in so much as we go top if we win our games in hand.

“Swindon and Basingstoke still have to play each other three times and I know they both have a couple of games against Bracknell as well.

“We only have the games this weekend and one more home game against Bracknell to come against the other sides in the top four and hopefully that’s something we can take advantage of during the run-in.

“We can’t think too much about the league, though. We’ve just got to go out and play our hockey on both nights and hopefully get the results we want.

“I’ve seen a lot of negative comments lately after we hit a little slump, but we’re still in a position where we can win four trophies this season.

“Aside from letting in the three short-handed goals, I thought we were very good in the home game against Basingstoke.

“Losing that game was a freak result, but we kicked on from there by playing well against Bracknell in the cup semi last Sunday.

“I’m sure we can have a good weekend if we’re able to repeat the quality and intensity we showed in that game.”

Phantoms have 12 games to go in NIHL Division One South and they appear to boast a good run-in on paper.

Three of those fixtures are against bottom side Invicta and they also face third-bottom Streatham on three occasions.