HEAD coach Doug Sheppard believes his Bracknell Bees are capable of pulling back a three-goal deficit when they face Peterborough Panthers in the second leg of their South Cup semi-final at The Hive tonight (Wednesday, 7.30pm).

"Of course it's doable – there is no question about it," he told the News.

"We need to go out and have a really good first 20 minutes. We will then see where we are at, before knowing if we have to start changing our game plan.

"We want to play three mini-games of 20 minutes each and go up by a goal in each. If we can do that, then it will set us up for an overtime period at the least."

Sheppard describes the clash with Panthers as "our biggest match of the season far", but added: "All games are now big for us at this time of the year. This is the first one where if you don't pull it off, you are eliminated from a competition.

"We are still alive in everything else, so this is a do-or-die situation."

Bees will go into the tie fresh from a 7-1 hammering of Milton Keynes Thunder on Sunday, which came a week after they had amazingly lost 4-3 at home to tailed-off Invicta Dynamos, whose only two previous South One wins had come against Thunder.

"After the defeat by Invicta, we (the players) did have a good chat, but the guys knew they had an off-night and not a great deal had to be said," stated the coach.

"It was a one-off performance, it was bad, but we have now left it behind and it's all about moving forward."

Sheppard was understandably pleased with how his side played against MK, saying: "The guys responded well, we were so much better.

"I was pleased with the energy levels we played at. It was a good all-round team effort and I was happy with a lot of things.

"We now need to build on that."

Tyler Vankleef produced a man-of-the-match display, scoring three of Bees' seven goals. Leading scorer Roman Malinik bagged a brace, with Zach Milton and Aidan Doughty completing the rout as they made it five wins out of five over MK this season.

Canadian Vankleef, with two, and Milton also found the net when their side crushed Peterborough 8-2 in the league at The Hive two months ago.

But, while Bees were in top form, it was generally considered the Phantoms had a bad day at the office and they will be a much tougher nut to crack this time round.

Peterborough's away form is patchy, however.

This month they have won 3-2 at Basingstoke and 4-3 at Streatham, but last Sunday went down by the odd goal in five to fifth-placed Raiders at Romford despite out-shooting their hosts 41-30.

As it is half-term week, Bees are expecting their popular Schools Zone to be packed for the game.

"It will be great to see another big crowd here and fans getting behind the team," said Sheppard, whose former club, Basingstoke, have already booked their place in the South Cup final.

Josh Smith missed the win over MK due to injury and the head coach is "not sure if he is going to be ready."