WHEN it came to deciding the man-of-the-match awards at Bracknell Bees’ derby with Basingstoke Bison on Sunday it was a no-brainer for the adjudicators.

It just had to be the net-minders – Alex Mettam and Dean Skinns.

The Bees stopper faced 26 shots and conceded just two goals, while his opposite number did marginally better, letting only one of 27 strikes find its way into the net.

At 2-1 it was a low-scoring game, but the number of goal attempts underlined what an entertaining game this proved to be at The Hive.

Overall, the Bees had the better chances, with the puck hitting the side-netting, missing by inches and being scrambled off the line among a pile of bodies. On top of that, Skinns, made some superb stops.

Scott Spearing’s men can consider themselves unlucky to have lost their opening National Cup tie.

After a rather frenetic start to the game, with play sweeping from end to end, Mettam became slightly the busier of the net-minders, including a short period when the hosts had two men sitting in the sin-bin.

The closest Bees came to scoring in the opening period were due mainly to the efforts of Shaun Thompson, on two occasions, and Jan Bendik.

There were further opportunities at both ends in the opening stages of the middle period, but Bees then enjoyed a good spell of pressure, during which they did everything apart from hitting the back of the net.

When Bison’s Ivan Antonov broke clean through, Mettam came to his side’s rescue with his defence also managing to clear their lines.

But with just over two minutes of the period remaining, disaster struck. An intended cross-ice pass from Frankie Bakrlik was picked up by Jaroslav Cesky, who swooped low to fire an unstoppable shot past Mettam.

James Galazzi and Luke Jackson were not far away from equalising, while skipper Matt Foord swept forward from defence to have a go at goal but he, too, was out of luck.

Bees were shown the way to goal just before the hour mark, with Tomas Karpov cutting in from the right and slamming the puck inside the near post to double the visitors’ lead.

Bracknell, however, continued to battle away and, taking advantage of power play, they got the goal they thoroughly deserved when Shaun Thompson forced the puck home in the 54th minute.

But despite stepping up their efforts they were unable to snatch a late equaliser.

Bees had gone into the game without Alex Barker, who was still feeling groggy after receiving a blow to his head in Saturday’s 4-2 defeat at Peterborough.

Bees outshot their hosts 42-39, but again they struggled to convert their chances into goals.

They conceded two goals in the space of 35 seconds in the first period and another two in the opening three minutes of the final stanza.

Spearing replied for Bees in the 21st minute from a chance engineered by Thompson, with Josh Tetlow getting their second late in the game with the assists coming from Bakrlik and Thompson, who was voted Bees’ man of the match.

Bracknell are home to Cardiff Fire on Sunday (6pm).