The show so far a satisfying one for coach Koulikov

Wehebe Darge scores the first goal for Phantoms against Telford. Picture: Tom Scott
Wehebe Darge scores the first goal for Phantoms against Telford. Picture: Tom Scott
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It’s so far, so good for Phantoms.

That’s the conclusion of coach Slava Koulikov with two months of the English Premier League season now complete.

The city club have succeeded in their goal of climbing into the top half of the standings thanks to a fine run of five victories in their last six outings.

And Koulikov is confident his roster can continue to improve during the remaining two-thirds of the campaign following a summer of change .

“We’re in the top half of the table and that is the aim we set ourselves,” said Koulikov. “It is where we have been able to compete in the last two seasons and I had full belief we could get there again.

“We had a very tough start with a lot of fixtures against top teams before being hit by a tough situation with injuries.

“But we’re out of the other side now, we’re winning games of hockey and we’re sitting in fifth spot.

“We’ve managed to address the lack of goals that was an issue in the earlier part of the season and only two teams have conceded fewer times than ourselves.

“I’m happy with where we are at, but there are still areas in which we have to get better.

“We’ve got to work on a few finer points tactically to ensure we keep progressing, but I believe we can at least maintain our current position.”

Phantoms face teams below and above them this weekend with a Saturday visit to Guildford (6pm) before entertaining Hull at Planet Ice on Sunday (5.30pm).

The trip to Surrey carries extra significance as the result also counts towards the EPL Cup standings.

Phantoms are well-placed to advance to the latter stages of a competition in which they were beaten in the final – by the Flames – last season.

And the home clash against Hull provides an opportunity for quick revenge after a 6-3 loss in East Yorkshire last Saturday.

But Phantoms did follow up that loss with an immediate return to winning ways when beating troubled table-toppers Telford 4-1 the following night.

Koulikov added: “Hull have an outstanding record at home and a lot of teams have lost there by a lot heavier scorelines than we did.

“We hit the pipes two-or-three times and it could have been much closer, but we gave ourselves too much to do by not starting the game well enough.

“A team cannot expect to recover from 5-0 down in a league as tough as the EPL, but the way in which we bounced back last Sunday was really pleasing.

“We didn’t even speak about the situation in Telford. We just focused on getting our own performance right which is a must against the top team in the league.

“Whatever problems they may have, they certainly didn’t show them on the ice.

“Hopefully we can take the confidence of that win into this weekend.”