Phoenix fail to recover gap

MANCHESTER, UK – MANCHESTER Phoenix fell further behind in the English Premier League title race after gaining just one point over the weekend. They lost to table topping Basingstoke Bison 5-2 on Saturday and were edged on penalty shots to Slough Jets a day later. Phoenix led the Jets 2-0 after thirteen minutes with coach Tony Hand playing a big part in both. Ciaran Long fired from close range in the eighth minute before Joachim Flatten beat Greg Rockmann all ends up. But Slough hit back on 17 minutes as former home-favourite Slava Koulikov tucked it low past Stephen Fone. The second period brought little in the way of goal-mouth action as the game became a mid ice battle – but the Jets did level it through Darius Pliskauskas with just 36 seconds to go. Phoenix tried to up the ante in the third and as they ironically became more fatigued got the go-ahead goal to ease the nerves. Robert Schnabel took the puck in his own zone, found James Archer one on one with Rockmann and he made no mistake. But the Jets showed their never say die attitude and Frantisek Bakrlik was left unmarked to send the game into overtime. And after a goaless overtime period, he fired home the winning penalty shot to take the points. On Saturday. Phoenix lost their third game in a row to the Bison. Andy Melachrino opened the scoring for the home side before Jaroslav Cesky made it 2-0. Ondrej Pozivil pulled one back for Phoenix but Melachrino restored the advantage moments later. Ciaran Long made it a one-goal game going into the final period but Doug Sheppard and Cesky made the points safe and extended their lead over the Phoenix to five points. To contact the author e mail: mike.appleton@pro

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