BRACKNELL Bees snatched a sensational 5-4 overtime win against league leaders Swindon on Sunday with just FOUR seconds remaining, writes Dave Wright.

Edward Knaggs netted the goal after the outstanding Roman Malinik had split open the Wildcats defence with a devastating turn of pace – his fourth successive goal assist on the night.

In a gripping encounter between the top two sides in NIHL South One, the game swung to and fro with Bees going from 2-0 up to 3-2 down. They then led 4-3, only for the visitors to grab a late equaliser and extend the excitement by five minutes.

While it was very much a team effort, Bees owed a great deal to Malinik and netminder Dean Skinns, as they were the two best players on the ice, comfortably outshining their Swindon counterparts.

The Czech forward was making his return after his controversial ban which had seen him miss three games.

Accused of abusing an official at the end of the game against Streatham on November 10, he was suspended for close to a month, but that was until the league's disciplinary panel reviewed his case and downgraded the penalty to a game misconduct.

Head coach Doug Sheppard described the case as "extremely bizarre", while Malinik commented: "I think the truth showed up. I don't think I did anything, so it's not worth talking about."

The 28-year-old also did not want to dwell too much on his own performance on Sunday, saying: "I was pleased with my assists, but the most important thing is we won. We got two points and that is good for us."

He continued: "We need to win games against good teams like Swindon. They are always tough."

The only goal Malinik did not contribute to was the opener, which came in the 11th minute with Ryan Watt and David Millner created the opportunity for Brendan Baird to beat Renny Marr in the visitors' goal.

Less than a minute-and-a-half later, Bees doubled their lead through Shaun Thompson, following good work from Knaggs and Malinik.

However, Swindon hit back and goals from Edgars Bebris on 14:08 and Neil Liddiard at 19:04 brought the scores level by the first break.

The middle period remained goalless, but it took Swindon less than two minutes of the final stanza to take the lead through Max Birbraer.

Aidan Doughty made it 3-3 on 47:46 with Malinik and Josh Smith linking up in the build-up and two minutes later Bees regained the lead through young Zach Milton, with Malinik and Harvey Stead providing the assists.

Wildcats, who had lost only two of their previous 15 games, cranked up the pressure, forcing Skinns into adding to his list of excellent saves, but they did manage to equalise through Bebris in the 58th minute.

In overtime, Chris Jones was only inches away from winning it for Swindon, while Malinik went close for the hosts.

Then with time running out, Bees turned defence into attack as Malinik accelerated away to lay-off a perfect pass for Knaggs to slot home the winner just four seconds before the final buzzer.

"It was a great goal," beamed Sheppard, who had seen his side lose 4-3 in overtime to Swindon last month.

"Roman was a big-time contributor to the game."

To most, it looked a man-of-the-match performance, but instead, the vote went to Stead.

Bees' 12th win in 18 matches leaves them joint top of the table with Swindon, who have two games in hand.

This weekend sees them with two tough away games – at Basingstoke on Saturday (6.30pm) and Peterborough on Sunday (5.30pm).

"It doesn't get much tougher when you follow up Swindon by going to Basingstoke and Peterborough," commented Sheppard.

"But we will go into the weekend confident. We know we can match any team in the league, It's a matter of staying focused and switched on for 60 minutes."

Vanya Antonov is due to return, having missed the Swindon game due to university studies.

Sunday's win means Bees have also booked their place in the semi-finals of the South Cup along with Swindon, Peterborough and Basingstoke.