Peterborough Phantoms chief Slava Koulikov refused to be downbeat in the wake of a defeat to table-topping Telford last night (February 5).
The city team saw a 3-1 advantage just after halfway distance in Shropshire turn into a 5-3 loss at the hands of a team chasing a second English Premier League title in three seasons.
But Koulikov was far from disappointed with the display of his third-placed men – both last night and during the whole of the past two weekends when they have faced the two teams above and below them in the standings.
“It has been a really tough run of games,” said Koulikov. “If anyone had offered me 75 per cent of the points against Milton Keynes, Basingstoke, Guildford and Telford beforehand, I would have snatched their hand off.
“We’ve competed superbly against the strongest teams at our level despite having so many guys out with injuries.
“I was very pleased with a lot of the things we did in Telford. We controlled the first half of the game and the scoreline at that point was a fair reflection.
“But they are fighting for the league and there were a couple of turning points that gave them the belief to go on and win the game.
“You have to learn from losses as well as wins, and that’s something we’ll do, but I’m not at all disappointed by the result.
“My main focus now is on managing the guys and making sure we are in the best place possible for the cup final and the play-offs.”
Phantoms, captained by Will Weldon in the absence of James Ferrara, who became a father for the second time during the evening, hit the front through Ales Padelek last night.
But this third-minute opener was soon cancelled out by Sam Oakford as the sides ended the opening session in deadlock.
A rare Tom Stubley goal and a Martins Susters effort then gave Phantoms the cushion their display deserved, but Telford hit back when Doug Clarkson took advantage of a five-on-three powerplay.
And it was a level game when Phantoms conceded to Clarkson again just 36 seconds into the final period.
That handed the hosts the initiative and they went on to claim victory as Rick Plant and Milan Kolena struck little more than two minutes apart.
Phantoms are back in action this weekend with a Saturday (February 11, 7.30pm) trip to Sheffield followed by a home derby on Sunday (February 12, 5.30pm) against EPL Cup final rivals Milton Keynes (5.30pm).
7:35 Oakford ass: Kolena/Rose
36:22 Clarkson (PP) ass: Davies/Weaver
40:36 Clarkson ass: Korhon
50:33 Plant ass: Weaver/Kolena
52:49 Kolena ass: Silverthorn/Plant
3:00 Padelek ass: Susters
26:50 Stubley unassisted
31:11 Susters ass: Darge/Stepanek
TELFORD – Jason Silvethorn
PHANTOMS – James White