Phoenix fightback takes the sting out of the Bees

Saturday, 5th December 2009

Bracknell Bees 4 - 5 Manchester Phoenix

A brace of goals apiece for Greg Wood and player coach Tony Hand, and an excellent game from Ed Courtenay saw the Manchester Phoenix overcome a 4-1 deficit to take the points in Bracknell on Saturday night.

Nineteen-year old Adam Summerfield continued in goal as the Phoenix travelled to Berkshire on Saturday night, with the club having been thwarted by league regulations in signing Pasi Raitanen from Sheffield on loan during the week. Phoenix got off to a smooth start against a Bracknell Bees side also icing their second string netminder due to Carl Ambler having broken a finger in training this week. Manchester opened the scoring in the fifth minute, Greg Wood netting his fifth of the season after good approach play involving Andre Payette and Joe Graham. Phoenix were dominating the possession and goal-scoring opportunities, Wood, Tony Hand and Ed Courtenay all going close, but failing to add to the early lead. The home side were battling bravely and totally against the run of play, they drew level in the 13th minute, Nicky Watt the scorer as a penalty against former Phoenix player Carl Graham expired. And incredibly, Bracknell took a lead into the first interval as Pinc fired a shot through the legs of Summerfield inside the final minute of the period.

Booted by the advantage, Bracknell took a two-goal lead as Jaroslav Cesky fired a howitzer shot into the roof of the Phoenix goal within two minutes of the restart and when Terry Miles made it 4-1 to the home side, Phoenix were in need of a change of luck. They steadied the defensive ship and hit back with a somewhat fortunate shorthanded strike from leading scorer Ed Courtenay in the 33rd minute - Marashi in the Bees goal saving his shot, but allowing it to slip from his grasp and drop agonisiingly across the goal line. Phoenix began to up their work rate and two minutes the later, the arrears were cut to a single marker as Tony Hand forced the puck home assisted by Joe Graham and Courtenay to make it a one goal game at the second break.

Phoenix had a lucky escape in the opening exchanges of the third period as a shot from Pinc appeared to go in, but referee Boniface played on and the visitors breathed a sigh of relief. They turned this slice of luck to real advantage in the 47th minute as they drew level, Courtenay the provider for Greg Wood to fire his second of the game into the top left corner. It was now the turn of the Bees to be on the back foot and a little under two minutes later, Courtenay again carved through their rearguard, he laid the puck on a plate for Tony Hand to fire what proved to be the game-winning goal. Bracknell worked hard and their East-European pair of Cesky and Pinc were a constant threat to a Phoenix defence that had to work hard to protect their lead and top-of-the-table status.

Phoenix player coach Tony Hand summed up his thoughts saying, "Overall, a pleasing performance. We had to dig deep, but we showed great character to come back from 4-1 down to win. The boys played well tonight in what has to be just about the hottest rink I've played in, it seemed like a sauna at times to me. We got the points and that's what matters and now we need to get home and rested before going up against Milton Keynes again on Sunday."

Ed Courtenay

Ed Courtney: Phoenix Man of the Match for the game.

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