EPL preview: Tigers still in title race says Silverthorn

Telford Tigers’ captain Jason Silverthorn has refused to rule his side out of the EPL title race, despite last weekend’s double disappointment.

Defeats against Swindon Wildcats and Peterborough Phantoms left Tigers twelve points behind league leaders Basingstoke Bison, with just a quarter of the season left to play.

Tigers travel to Guildford Flames on Saturday, before welcoming Hull Pirates to Shropshire the following day and Silverthorn says they haven’t given up hope of defending their title just yet.

He said: “It’s disheartening to lose two games against teams you’re trying to chase, especially over the same weekend. But you’ve still got to approach every game in the same way.

“This thing isn’t over until it’s done and the way the league has been this year, all the teams have been beating each other. There’s still hope we can claw our way back into it.

“We’re not so far off and we’re still right in the mix as far as second, third, fourth and fifth goes. Hopefully, we can get on a really good run and challenge for first place as well.

“We have to keep playing our game and worry only about our business over the next few weeks.

“We need to get back to playing simple, smart, hard hockey. That’s what wins games. When we get away from that and try to do too much, things don’t work out for us.

“So the guys have to play the same way every night, no matter who we’re playing.”

MK Lightning will look to continue their recent good form in the league when they host Manchester Phoenix on Saturday.

Lightning have won four of their last five EPL games, but Head Coach Pete Russell doesn’t expect an easy ride from Tony Hand’s team.

“Phoenix can be very dangerous,” he said. “We’ve had some exciting games against them already this season, and they’re a team we know we have to be very wary of. We have to be on top form and ready for another big game.”

Last Sunday’s 5-3 win against Sheffield Steeldogs was Lightning’s eighth game in fifteen days, which included two cup semi-final ties against Peterborough Phantoms.

Despite losing out to their big rivals, Russell says he was proud of his team’s efforts.

“The last eight games were a huge ask and very demanding on our group,” he added.

“I was so happy with how we came through the period and how we responded after the Peterborough game.

“Teams can let something like that hurt them and feel sorry for themselves – not this group. They just came back stronger and hungrier.

“We had guys playing through the pain barrier and willing to do whatever it takes for the better of our team.”

Hull Player/Coach Dominic Osman says his team can still reach the play-offs, despite being nine points adrift of the final slot.

Pirates missed the chance to close the gap on Phoenix last weekend, as their opponents strengthened their grip on eighth place with a 3-0 victory, but Osman insists his team can still catch up.

“We are still in with a chance, no matter what,” he said. “I’ve been on teams in the past that have been in more impossible situations, but still managed to pull it off.”

WEEKEND FIXTURES

Friday

Sheffield Steeldogs v Manchester Phoenix

Saturday

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

Sunday

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

(Image permission: Steve Brodie)

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