EPL preview: Russell wants Lightning to keep calm

MK Lightning boss Pete Russell believes his team must learn to control their emotions if they’re to close the gap on EPL leaders Telford Tigers.

Lightning face Swindon Wildcats and Peterborough Phantoms this weekend with a ten point deficit to make up on the Tigers, although Russell’s side have two games in hand.

“When things go against us in a game it’s about continuing to make good decisions and being brave in situations,” said Russell.

“We have to learn its only a goal, or a call we didn’t get and at the end it’s only a game. It’s not the end of the world and we have to keep our emotions in check, and we all have to calm down at times.

“Don’t take this the wrong way, I’m not saying we shouldn’t care – it’s just about controlling our power of thinking and channel it in the right way.

“I understand this pressure our guys feel right now. But we have to forget about the pressure and just play our way and embrace each experience.

“But I know it’s because they care so much and they believe we have a talented group who can do well. We have to control our thinking and use our thoughts to help us. We will work on this – and it will help make us stronger.”

Swindon boss Aaron Nell hopes last week’s 2-1 home win against Lightning will give his team a lift as the build-up to the play-offs gathers pace.

The Wildcats travel to Milton Keynes on Saturday, before hosting Bracknell Bees the following day and Nell is keen build some momentum ahead of the end-of-season showdown.

“Being on the bigger ice we have to play a little bit differently, but it is all about coming in and being prepared to do the little things on the day,” he told the Swindon Advertiser.

“We know that they are a very good team and if we want to beat them, especially at their place, we need to out work them and want it more than them.

“When it comes to playing Bracknell on Sunday, we have to be ready to work extremely hard and put in another good performance.

“At this time of the year, that is all we can do, to be ready for the play-offs and be one of the form teams for them.

“With the play-offs being a lot longer this year, you can’t just turn up and have a good weekend and play two good games.

“We are going to have to be consistent. I know everyone will be excited for them so we just have to be ready.”

Peterborough Head Coach Slava Koulikov is also eyeing other prizes as the season heads for its final few weeks.

The Phantoms look certain to claim a top four finish in the league, leaving Koulikov to concentrate on the upcoming EPL Cup final against Lightning and the play-offs.

“I’m not for one minute saying that I don’t care about results, but my main focus is ensuring we are in the strongest possible shape when it comes to the cup final and the play-offs,” he told Peterborough Today.

“We are in a position where we are competing for two trophies, and the league is not one of them. Therefore that has to now be our lowest priority.

“I would put my house on us finishing in the top four and that is a pleasing achievement in such a tough league.

“I still want to finish as high as we possibly can and that looks like being the third place we currently hold, but we have bigger targets a little bit further down the line.

“We’ve had several guys missing lately and we have a few others who are playing through injuries and niggles. My job is to manage their game-time between now and the cup final.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Saturday

Basingstoke Bison v Hull Pirates
Guildford Flames v Telford Tigers
MK Lightning v Swindon Wildcats
Sheffield Steeldogs v Peterborough Phantoms

Sunday

Hull Pirates v Basingstoke Bison
Peterborough Phantoms v MK Lightning
Sheffield Steeldogs v Guildford Flames
Swindon Wildcats v Bracknell Bees

(Image permission: Tony Sargent)

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