Archer strikes as Phoenix edge classic

 150px-EPL_Logo[1]COVENTRY, UK – JAMES Archer scored the telling penalty shot as Manchester Phoenix edged past Basingstoke Bison in a classic Playoff Semi Final.

In a tie that went right to the wire, the forward held his nerve in ‘sudden death’ to set up a meeting with Guildford in Sunday’s final.

But all credit to Stephen Fone who was huge at times between Phoenix’ pipes during the match to keep his side in the contest.

Manchester tore up the form book to progress – recording only their second win in seven attempts against their opponents.

Basingstoke‘s Jaroslav Cesky fired the first shot in anger before Fone made a couple of crucial saves.

Stevie Lyle then dove to stone Tom Duggan as the forward looked to tuck a big rebound from Michal Psurny’s shot.

It was all Bison in the opening stages until a rasper from James Neil found its way into the net on 8:27.

Phoenix then went in search of another and Joachim Flatten saw his shot just edge past the right hand post.

Basingstoke’s equalised on 11:21 thanks to great work from Greg Chambers. The puck was taken up the ice, crossed in and Greg Owen smashed it low into the bottom corner.

Phoenix killed a penalty on Robert Schnabel on 13:55 but failed to deal with Joe Greener’s pass to Cesky which set up the go-ahead goal with less than two minutes remaining in the period.

Fone was pulled out of position by the sublime cross and Doug Sheppard tucked it away.

On 23 minutes Phoenix’ shot-stopper made a clinical save on Greener and it was vital as within 70 seconds his side had levelled.

Psurny’s pass was far too quick for the defence and Tony Hand was the quickest to react.

Phoenix killed a 5 on 3 penalty on 27 minutes when both Robert Schnabel and James Archer went to the box for Hooking and Slashing respectively.

Then Fone produced a huge save as he denied Joe Miller on a breakaway – as did Lyle on Psurny five minutes later.

On 36 minutes a shot from distance pinged Basingstoke’s crossbar and then Phoenix had their third PP opportunity of the evening.

But it was on their fourth when they finally clicked.

Sheppard was sent to the box for Slashing and Luke Boothroyd teed up Flatten for the crucial go-ahead goal – his 32nd of the season.

Basingstoke then leveled in bizarre circumstances.

On 42:43 Chambers’ shot was initially ruled not to have crossed the line.

That saw Cesky smash his stick at the goal judge’s window in anger – earning a misconduct and the boos of the crowd. But, after a brief chat between the officials, the goal stood as the puck had gone through a hole in the net.

Parity lasted 67 seconds as Michal Psurny’s shot flew in from distance to give Manchester the lead.

But within 21 seconds it was all square once again as Joe Miller took advantage of some slack defending.

Buoyant, Basingstoke kept on coming and had a gilt edged chance when given a 5 on 3 for 90 seconds on 50 mins. Once again, Manchester’s Penalty Kill did the trick.

Defences were on top for the final stages and in overtime both sides pressed but rarely threatened the scoresheet – Bison perhaps looking more likely.

But it was left for Joe Archer and Stephen Fone to put Phoenix through to the Final 5-4 after Doug Sheppard couldn’t convert his effort in sudden death.

Match Summary:

Basingstoke: Chambers 1+1, Sheppard 1+1, Miller 1+1, Owen 1+0, Greener 0+2, Cesky 0+1

Manchester: Hand 1+2, Psurny 1+2, Neil 1+0, Flatten 1+0, Boothroyd 0+1, Schnabel 0+1

Period Scoring: 2-1, 0-2, 2-1, 0-0 (2-3 pen shots)

PIMS: Basingstoke: 20 Manchester: 14

Powerplay: Basingstoke: 0 from 7 Manchester: 1 from 5

REF: Cloutman & TBC

Shots: 9-8, 10-13, 15-9

MOM: Basingstoke: Alex Symonds Manchester: Tom Duggan

To contact the author email: Mike.Appleton@prohockeynews.com or tweet: @mascarandy and @prohockeynews

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