Swindon Wildcats 4 - Manchester Phoenix 5

Saturday, 24th March 2012

Manchester Phoenix scorers: Luke Boothroyd x 2, Tom Duggan, James Archer, Sean Day

A depleted Phoenix side travelled to Swindon for an EPL match on Saturday. Missing Tony Hand, Slava Koulikov and Ben Wood, coach Hand brought in Sean Day from the Metros.

After a bright start by both teams, Wildcats took the lead as Aaron Nell broke free on the left and found the net via two posts, timed at 3.31, assisted by Jonas Hoog and Shane Moore. Swindon had the upper hand for the next few minutes but a resolute Phoenix side equalised on 8.47 through Tom Duggan, assisted by Ciaran Long and James Archer. The travelling band of Phoenix faithful were on their feet less than a minute later with a powerplay goal by skipper Luke Boothroyd. Juraj Faith found the defender free on the right side and he blasted a rocket past Tom Murdy in the Wildcats’ goal. A second assist was given to Stephen Wallace. The rest of the period was end to end but excellent work from James Archer found Juraj Faith, who returned the pass for the young forward to hit a superb shot past Murdy for 3-1. End of the first period and a worthy two goal lead for the visitors.

The second period saw both teams have chances before Phoenix broke out. Ryan Johnson found Josh Ward on the left wing and after he beat his defender he made the pass of the season to the rushing Sean Day who scored a beautiful goal on his debut, timed at 28.49. Phoenix then suffered a blow when Tom Duggan was given a match penalty at 29.22 for a high stick infringement on Paul Swindlehurst, who had to go off to treat his wound. Fortunately for Phoenix the first two minutes of the major was four on four as a Wildcats player sat in the box on an interference penalty. 48 seconds later Jonas Hoog scored with a shot that baffled Stephen Fone in the Phoenix goal. The period ended 4-2 to Phoenix and the good news that Swindlehurst had returned to the game and Duggan’s penalty was downgraded to a game penalty.

Swindon came at the Phoenix early in the third and the Phoenix rearguard was breached on 42.18 with a fine goal from Aaron Nell, assisted by Hoog and Melichar. 26 seconds later, Phoenix had re-established their two goal lead with another blast from Luke Boothroyd, assisted by Juraj Faith and Stephen Wallace. The game swung both ways for most of the period with Swindon frantically trying to get back on terms. Ciaran Long was sent to the box on a hooking call on 55.16 and Swindon pulled a goal back with just 20 seconds left on the powerplay through Jonas Hoog, assisted by Nicky Watt. Swindon pulled Murdy for the last 40 seconds but were unable to grab an equaliser and Phoenix took the points with a 5-4 victory.

Man of the Match for Phoenix went to Luke Boothroyd but any one of the team out there tonight was deserving of the accolade.

Phoenix debutant Sean Day said after the game: “It was fantastic. A great opportunity for me, and to get a goal just topped it off. I was just in the right place at the right time and Josh’s pass was just perfect.”