BRACKNELL Bees face a tall order if they are to meet local rivals Basingstoke Bison in the final of the NIHL South Cup, writes Dave Wright.

They have a three-goal deficit to make up after losing 6-3 at Peterborough Phantoms on Sunday in the away leg of their semi-final, after the home tie scheduled for Saturday was called off on safety grounds with the car park and approach road outside the stadium covered in snow and ice.

A new date for what is now the second leg has still to be confirmed.

Bees, who were missing skipper Joe Baird and Josh Martin, made a good start to the semi-final, scoring through Josh Smith with just over five minutes gone, despite being a man down with Ryan Watt having been penalised for tripping.

Corey McEwen opened his side's goal account with a 15th-minute equaliser and the scores remained level at the end of the first period, which had seen Watt make three visits to the sin-bin.

Phantoms took the lead in the 28th minute with a power-play goal from Petr Stepanek and a little over five minutes later the same player scored again.

But Bees pulled it back to 3-2 with a goal from Ivan Antonov with Shaun Thompson providing the assist and so the game looked evenly balanced going into the final period.

They went looking for the equaliser, only to be thwarted by netminder Jordan Marr, and their hopes of getting on level terms were ended when they conceded two goals in quick succession to Nathan Pollard and Glenn Billing, the latter coming on the power-play.

With eight-and-a-half-minutes remaining, Bees lost Harvey Stead, who picked up a 10-minute misconduct penalty following a scuffle in front of the benches.

Ales Padelek notched the sixth goal for the hosts before Watt and Roman Malinik set up Bracknell's third for Aidan Doughty in the final half minute.

Ed Knaggs was voted Bees' man-of-the-match.

In all, Bracknell fired in 28 shots, just one fewer than their goalie, Danny Milton, faced at the other end.

But Phantoms played with a lot more discipline on the night, recording only two penalty minutes, compared to Bracknell's 24, with Stead contributing half of the total.

Making up three goals is certainly within Bracknell's capabilities, but they will need to produce the same form as they did when Peterborough last visited the Hive last month when Doug Sheppard's men thrashed them 8-2 with arguably their best performance of the season.

This coming weekend, fourth-in-the-table Bees visit league leaders Swindon on Saturday (5.30pm) before hosting bottom club Invicta Dynamo on Sunday (6pm).