BRACKNELL Bees slipped to their second home defeat in a week when losing 5-4 to Peterborough Phantoms in a thriller at The Hive on Saturday, writes Dave Wright.

After trailing 3-1 with 20 minutes gone, they produced a storming second period to go 4-3 ahead and the momentum appeared to be with them.

But the NIHL South leaders conceded an equaliser early in the final session and the Phantoms, who have been a bogey side to Bracknell in recent years, sealed their sixth successive victory this season with less than six minutes remaining.

It was an entertaining contest for a good-sized crowd, but coach Doug Sheppard and his men were left bitterly disappointed to lose again after going down to Swindon Wildcats 4-3 in overtime the previous Saturday.

The game was only in its third minute – though not before Aidan Doughty had been sent to the sin-bin for 12 minutes for a checking to the head offence – when they fell behind to Corey McEwan’s power-play goal.

But it took the Bees less than four minutes to equalise, through a smart finish from Vanya Antonov with Roman Malinik providing the assist.

The fans celebrating the goal were silenced less than a minute later as Ales Padelek restored the visitors’ lead and the same player made it 3-1 a minute before the first interval.

Net-minder Dean Skinns was replaced by Danny Milton, who was returning for the first time this season since damaging his cheekbone.

And Milton kept a clean sheet – from eight goal attempts – as Bees battled back in tremendous style with three goals in a 15-minute spell.

Malinik, from an Antonov assist, triggered off the recovery 61 seconds into the second period and Antonov set up the equaliser for Malinik just after the 30-minute mark.

Bees were enjoying their best spell of the match and they took the lead in the 35th minute through James Galazzi, with Harvey Stead and Shaun Thompson providing the assists.

But they were slow to get going in the final stanza and in the second minute allowed teenager Harry Ferguson – who was axed by the club 24 hours later – to bring Phantoms back level at 4-4 with a delayed penalty goal.

Despite losing Josh Smith through injury, Bees remained very much in the game – but were then caught out by a swift counter-attack as Petr Stephanek snatched the winner in the 55th minute with another delayed penalty goal.

In all, Bracknell had 20 goal attempts, five fewer than their rivals.

With two goals and an assist, Antonov was voted his side’s man-of-the-match, while Callum Buglass earned the vote for Peterborough.

Sheppard commented: “I think the energy and effort were there, but we made some big mistakes and they capitalised. It was almost like we wanted it too bad.

“We need to take things in our stride and play more as a team and in time things will turn. Things don’t seem to be going our way, but we know we’re going to get a few bounces to fall our way.

“We’ll look to get back on track for next weekend.”

Bees. who remain top of the table, face two particularly tough fixtures as they seek to return to winning ways. On Saturday (5.30pm) they have a top-of-the-table clash at Streatham and on Sunday (6pm) Basingstoke Bison are the visitors, which means Sheppard and several players will be facing their old club.

It has all the ingredients of being a spicy encounter.