BRACKNELL Bees, with their squad missing both the suspended Frankie Bakrlik and injured Scott Spearing, suffered a double National Cup defeat at the hands of Telford Tigers last weekend, writes Dave Wright.

But on both nights they were in with a chance of winning these Group D games right to the final hooter, following two cracking contests which left fans on their edge of their seats.

Saturday’s encounter went to overtime before Tigers sealed a 2-1 win and there was only one goal in it again on Sunday, with Bees losing 4-3 after being 3-0 down early in the second period.

Bracknell supporters were stunned by the news of Bakrlik’s six-match ban, but were pleased to see injured player-coach Spearing back at The Hive even though it was only as a spectator.

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Bees ace Josh Tetlow shoots at the Tigers goal. Pictures: Kevin Slyfield Photography.

In front of the biggest crowd of the season, boosted by soldiers from the Sword Company Army training centre at Pirbright, the match was largely dominated by defences and the two net minders.

It came as no surprise that both secured the man-of-the-match awards, with Bees’ Alex Mettam conceding just two goals from 26 shots struck in his direction and opposite number Denis Bell one from 29.

Those figures reflect how close the game was, the result being in the balance throughout an absorbing contest.

Bees took the lead in the 34th minute when Jan Bendik threaded the puck towards the left-hand post, where Shaun Thompson was waiting to score his fifth goal in as many cup games.

They stayed ahead until 45:16 when Mettam was at last beaten by Jason Silverthorn.

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Bees' Shaun Thompson prepares for face-off at the Hive.

Both sides had chances to win the game, but it went to overtime and only 65 seconds were required before Ricky Plant potted the puck into the net.

In addition to being without Spearing and Bakrlik, Bees went into Sunday’s return fixture without the injured Thompson, leaving them without their two leading scorers this season.

They trailed by two goals in the opening period and went further behind in the 22nd minute.

But Bees refused to accept defeat and Danny Ingoldsby hit the post while Alex Barker and Steve Osman were denied by Bell.

The pressure paid off with Barker opening his side’s account midway through the period and shortly afterwards Osman also scored to reduce his side’s deficit to just one goal.

The momentum was now with the Bees and Matt Foord, Tom Avery and Callum Best all went close to bringing the scores level.

However, the Shropshire side were also making chances at the other end and Silverthorn restored his side’s two-goal advantage on 45:15.

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Bees netminder Alex Mettam makes a save.

Bees once again hit back with Avery and Osman setting up a power-play goal for Bendik in the 49th minute.

Ford nearly equalised, while only the crossbar stopped Silverthorn scoring again.

Bees kept pushing, but at the end of another absorbing contest they were unable to avoid their second defeat at the hands of their Division One North rivals.

Their player-of-the-match award went to Bendik Bracknell make their second trip to Invicta Dynamos this Saturday before hosting Peterborough Phantoms on Sunday, both games commencing at 6pm.

With half of their 12 fixtures completed, Bees sit bottom of their group with four points.

Unbeaten Swindon remain top with maximum points from five games, followed by Telford with six from seven games and Basingstoke six from eight games.