FOR several weeks Bracknell Bees had been harbouring hopes of overhauling Sheffield Steeldogs to grab the final spot in the EIHPL play-offs, writes Dave Wright.

But the league’s bottom club fell further and further behind and it became a hopeless-looking cause about a month ago, even though the players refused to concede defeat.

On Sunday we saw evidence of the gulf that exists between the two sides when the Steeldogs gave their hosts a two-goal start and still managed to beat them 6-3.

There are now 10 points separating the sides with Bees having one match left to play and Sheffield two.

Bracknell have not been helped with a spate of injuries, particularly those to influential players Lukas Smital and Scott Spearing.

David Gaborcik is also ruled out with concussion, while Josh Smith joined the casualty list on Saturday when he fractured his jaw after being struck by the puck during the 6-3 defeat at Milton Keynes.

And the injury list grew on Sunday when Harvey Stead damaged his shoulder, so further reducing the Bees’ bench for the second half of the game.

Had they had been at full strength, then Bracknell may well have beaten Sheffield in their penultimate match of the campaign.

For a time it looked as if they were capable of doing it even with a depleted side, as Danny Ingoldsby put them ahead just after the fifth-minute mark and Luka Basic added a second on power-play at 13:19.

It was a promising first period and, though Sheffield opened their account on 21:17, Olegs Lascenko restored their two-goal advantage in the 36th minute with Alex Barker providing his second successive assist to make it 3-1.

Bees were far from happy with Sheffield’s second goal as net-minder Alex Mettam was off his skates following a challenge when Tom Barry fired home from distance in the final minute of the period.

With less than 15 minutes left on the clock, Bees were still ahead at 3-2 and looking capable of winning the game. But then it all went downhill and the drums being beaten enthusiastically by the fans, were silenced.

Stanislav Lascek brought the scores level on 46:35 and, after Ashley Calvert had added his name to the scoresheet, Lascek netted again to make it 5-3 on 54:20.

Calvert completed the scoring at 57:26 and Macauley Heywood’s third assist of the night earned him Sheffield’s player-of-the-match award.

Basic took the honours for Bees.

The Slovenian was also on target in the defeat at Milton Keynes, along with player-of-the-match Shaun Thompson and Barker.

Bees, with a goal in each period, managed just 19 shots during the game, while their net-minder Matt Smital faced 56.