HAVING been rocked by the son of music legend Rod Stewart the night before, Bracknell Bees were back in tune on Sunday although without quite managing to hit the high notes, writes Dave Wright.

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They crashed 7-2 at Milton Keynes Lightning with 25-year-old Liam Stewart scoring twice on his debut, but produced a much better performance against Basingstoke Bison, losing 3-2 to a side which had triumphed 9-2 on the same ice three weeks earlier.

It was a particularly disappointing display on Saturday as Lightning went into the game at the foot of the National Division table and had lost their previous two fixtures against Bees by a 4-3 margin.

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Robin Kovar gave Bracknell an early lead and it was 1-1 at the first break, but they conceded three goals in each of the next two periods before Brendan Baird netted a late second for the Bees on a night when they had 28 shots at their former keeper, Dean Skinns.

Coach Doug Sheppard described it as an "awful performance", adding: "There is no excuse for what happened. We worked hard until it was 4-1, but after that, we were chasing the game and it went from bad to worse."

Sheppard, however, was much happier with the way his side responded against his former club Basingstoke.

He told the News: "You can never be happy after a loss, but this was a much, much better performance from everyone. We competed hard for the entire game. It could have gone either way as we had our chances."

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Both sides opened their account with a power-play goal, with Baird putting Bees ahead in the 29th minute with Alex Sampford equalising five minutes later. Then Michal Klejna squeezed in a shot from a tight angle to give Bison the lead after 41 minutes.

Netminder Adam Goss will have been left disappointed by that goal, but he made several excellent saves during the game.

Roman Malinik brought the scores level on 46 minutes and there were good chances at both ends before Marek Malinsky snatched Basingstoke's winner in the 50th minute.

Bracknell, whose goal tally of 39 in 15 games is the lowest in the division, were losing for the fifth successive game, four of them by just the one goal.

Sheppard said he is more concerned about losing games than the lack of goals, but believes his side can soon get back to winning ways.

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"If we put in more efforts like this, the results will get better," he added.

"This was easily our best performance for some time. We competed hard for the entire game and that was good to see.

"A lot of boys set the bar to what type of performance they can bring. If they can show that night in, night out, then we will definitely start winning games."

Seventh-in-the-table Bees have just one game this coming weekend, home to fifth-placed Hull Pirates on Sunday (5.30pm).

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