BRACKNELL Bees’s season-long struggle to score goals was once again exposed at the weekend, writes Dave Wright.

Having lost 7-3 at Telford on Saturday when the Tigers were crowned EPIHL champions, they could and should have won the return fixture at The Hive 24 hours later.

They had almost twice as many shots at goal than the visitors – 40 against 21 – yet still lost 4-2.

The two defeats seriously harm their hopes of hauling themselves into the play-offs as the bottom club are now seven points behind Sheffield Steeldogs in eighth place with five matches left to play.

It is not a hopeless situation, especially if Bees can play like they did on Sunday – well at least for 51 minutes – and manage to up their scoring rate.

They made a dreadful start, conceding a goal after just 56 seconds and two more in the fifth and ninth minutes.

For the rest of the proceedings, however, Bees gave a good account of themselves and it was hard to imagine that the two sides are 57 points apart in the league standings.

What was more evident was the vast gulf between them when it comes to the end product, with Bees having managed only 99 goals in 43 games, compared to Telford’s 205 from 44.

Just two successful strikes were a meagre return for those players who worked overtime to create the chances.

Tigers’ Sam Gospel was by far the busier of the two net-minders, although many of the shots in his direction carried less venom than those that Matt Smital had to face at the other end.

Even when Gospel was caught off his line, Bees still could not take advantage.

While Telford needed just seven goal attempts to score their three early goals, the hosts managed to convert just one from 19 in the opening period.

That came on power play on 14:09 when a swift exchange of passes across the ice involving Lukas Smital, David Gaborcik and Luka Basic was neatly finished off by the last named.

But they were unable to add to their tally in the middle period despite eight attempts, while Tigers converted one from seven. Their fourth goal came on 38:55 when a blistering break down the middle saw Corey McEwen race through to net his third goal of the game.

However, a hat-trick was still not sufficient to earn his side’s man of the match award, as that went to Gospel.

He was beaten for a second time 59 seconds from the end of the game when Basic scored his second goal of night with Olegs Lascenko and Alex Barker providing the assists.

Skipper Matt Foord, who had an outstanding game in defence, was a clear winner of the Bees’ player of the match award.

Matt Smital took the honours on Saturday despite being on the wrong end of a 7-3 scoreline.

The young netminder had to face 47 shots, while Bees made 24 attempts at the other end.

There was also a good performance from Shaun Thompson, who netted a goal in each of the first two periods before combining with Basic to set up Barker in the 35th minute.

Bees were in the game at 4-3, only to concede three goals in a four-minute spell in the final period, all to 6ft 1in Canadian Doug Clarkson.

Bracknell go into the final month of the season with a visit to Swindon on Saturday (6pm) before hosting league runners-up MK Lightning on Sunday (6pm).