Toure Hat Trick helps City title hopes




                                                                        

 MANCHESTER   CITY                 5   –   0      FULHAM 



Manchester City kept their Premier League title hopes on track with a 5-0 thrashing of ten-men Fulham at the Etihad Stadium, the game also Ivorian Midfielder Yaya Toure netting a hat trick for the Blues to see the Cottagers sink deeper into relegation trouble at the foot of the table.

With Chelsea handing out capital punishment to their fellow London rival Arsenal in the game early kick off, it was important that Man City kept the pressure up on the teams above them with and a great opportunity to do so in the shape of bottom of the table side Fulham.
The home side was missing the services of Captain Vincent Kompany for the game after the Belgian defender was sent off in the 2-0 win at Hull last weekend for the Blues.
It saw Manuel Pellegrini using the same centre back pairing that he used in the FA Cup defeat to Wigan Athletic a couple of weeks ago, as Joleon Lescott came into replace  Vincent Kompany and saw them play very well in the City defence.

City typically threatened throughout the match with the home side restricting the play of Fulham as they never gave them a sniff all game. The home side had a good shout for a penalty claim in the 11th minute of the game, when a Samir Nasri corner was missed by Martin Demichelis  which saw the ball strike the arm of Steve Sidwell who had put his head down  and despite the blue shirts appealing to the referee over a penalty the claims were waved away and play continued on.
Sidwell was involved in another penalty claim by the home side after City was targeting the Fulham right and so when Alvaro Negredo mis-controlled the ball, it saw the Spaniard dashing to keep the ball in play with a great backheel that saw it stop dead.  From then Pablo Zabaleta put a little ball through towards James Milner just inside the area and as the City man turned, Sidwell then tackled his man without getting the ball and saw Sidwell get away with two incidents.




The game saw all the different types of weather Manchester could muster as it was going from one extreme to the other while play was ongoing. It wasn`t the first time a game played between the two at the Etihad Stadium had saw crazy weather, as last year saw play held up for a few minutes due to the snow flurries during the game and needed the groundsmen to shovel snow off the white lines so the players and officials knew where the penalty area was.




City had the first chance of the game through James Milner after Aleksander Kolarov`s cross was deflected away ,only as far as the England man and his driving effort saw Dean Stockdale push it away and his defender had to head it out for a corner.
In the 24th minute James Milner put a ball deep into the penalty area for the chasing Negredo to chase down and it seen the striker take a boot to his lower back from Defender Fernando Amorebieta who made a poor challenge and saw the Fulham man booked and gave away a penalty to the home side as well.
Yaya Toure stepped up to take the penalty for City and saw him side foot home into the bottom left hand corner to beat past Stockdale for a 1-0 lead. Fulham then had a chance minutes later when Kieran Richardson beat Demichelis down the left side and put a little cross towards the back post where upon Sascha Riether header was wide of the target and saw the home side showing signs of vulnerability  at the back.

The Blues midfield then almost orchestrated a fantastic goal between them all which saw James Milner lead the attack, before Fernandinho took up the play and when a ball was meant to go to the far side it seen David Silva get on it and his lovely first touch took it away from the defender, before the Spanish wizard dinked it over the keeper  with Amorebieta was on hand to clear off the line and see Fulham let off.
Kolarov then smashed the bar with a fierce shot on target after Milner again was the creator of the move, Milner had done brilliantly to chest down a Fernandinho ball before he then laid it off to the Serbian defender and he let rip with side footed effort that shook the woodwork from the shot.





Second half saw a more ruthless Manchester City side come out to play and it wasn`t too long before they doubled their lead when the home side was awarded a second penalty in the match and in the process ,saw Amorebieta getting his marching orders for a second bookable offence to go along with conceding two penalties.
The penalty came from more sublime passing play by the home side, which saw Fernandinho`s pass to Milner backheeled into the path of David Silva and saw the defender take him out to give away another penalty.
A second spot kick to Toure saw a second goal for Toure, with the Ivory Coast International placing the ball in exactly the same place as the first one and put City lead 2-0 up and all but end Fulham`s hopes of getting back in the game.
Amorebieta shown red card   PIC: news168.com

It almost became shooting practice for the Blues from that point really, with the home side having a fair few efforts on goal but not hitting the target.  James Milner saw his shot blazed over after he tricked two Fulham players in the build up and seen the midfielder firing high and wide before Kolarov strike this time round was a poor one, with it going wide of the goals but you sensed a goal was coming soon.
When Yaya Toure scores goals they are normally stunners and so when the Ivorian received a pass from outside the Fulham penalty area which was close to 35 yards out, you felt it would take a special strike to go in from that range and it was. Samir Nasri had took a free kick that was played to Toure and the midfielder took a little touch before bending the ball round the defense to beat the keeper and go in for a 3-0 score with Yaya Toure`s  completing his HAT TRICK.




Aleksander Kolarov nearly made it four for City after his drive from outside the area was stopped well by Stockdale and needed his defender`s to help in clearing the danger away after a good save.
Both of City`s midfield dynamos was then substituted when Toure and Silva made way, with them both doing their jobs to perfection and got a standing ovation from the Etihad crowd as Pellegrini had his eye slightly turned to Tuesday night`s game in the Manchester Derby at Old Trafford.
Demichelis came close to increasing the score for the home side, after his flick on at the near post beat the keeper but was kicked off the line by the Fulham defender and seen the away side under the cosh a bit. Samir Nasri was then replaced by the fit again Montenegro striker in Stefan Jovetic and that saw Nasri given a standing ovation too with the Frenchman being saved for that big game too.




City eventually scored their fourth of the game through Brazilian Fernandinho, as the midfielder ran diagonally into the penalty area before unleashing a fierce shot that gave the goalkeeper no chance of stopping and seen the home side seal the win in the 83rd minute of play.
Toure converts penalty :Pic: ITV.COM
Milner kept plugging away in his search of what would have been a very much deserved goal in the contest, but Stockdale was equal to his shot and seen him tip it away for a corner. The Blues added one more goal to score, when from that resulting corner saw Milner take it quickly and saw play go to the far side with Javi Garcia`s shot palmed away, only as far as Martin Demichelis who stuck a foot out and saw the ball run slowly over the line with the Argentine defender hold his arm up to celebrate before the ball had even gone in.





Demichelis adds 5th  Pic: TERRASPORTS

Alvaro Negredo then really should have made it 6-0 late on after that man again James Milner, used all of his trickery to get by the Fulham defence and put a ball into the area which was stopped by Steve Sidwell. Sidwell then tried to head it back to the goalie while on his hands and knees and which saw Negredo sneak in round the back to poke the ball between the two and watched it pass the post to see the Spaniard`s goal drought continue on. City keep up their recent good form and clean sheets to complete a very impressive display by the Blues to see them heading into the important game with neighbours Manchester United on Tuesday night full of confidence.    




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Bow time for Phoenix as Archer nets Three in Phoenix party!



MANCHESTER PHOENIX     5- 4    TELFORD TIGERS   
( AFTER OVERTIME )
 ARCHER   3x ,  HAND,  PSURNY                                                                 DAVIES , KUULUVAINEN , ROSE ,  KIVIRANTA            

   

This past weekend saw the English Premier League come to a conclusion in the regular season and saw the newly crowned EPL Champions the Manchester Phoenix, prove why they were worthy winners of the crown this year after picking up two tough wins against the Peterborough Phantoms on the road and then the Telford Tigers at home.
Saturday saw the League Champions travel down to the east of England and face off against the Peterborough Phantoms, which is a traditionally a very difficult place to try and get a result at.
Phoenix battled back in the game twice, after Luke Ferrara had put the hosts 1-0 up after 8 minutes of play that was before Robin Kovar equalised for the away side for 1-1 in the 16th minute.
Phantoms took the lead once more in the game with Lithuanian forward Darius Pliskauskas netting at the back end of the second period, to see Phoenix trail once again.
Michal Psurny then fired in the visitors second goal to see Manchester level it all up a two and had another Czech player in the form of Frantisek Bakrlik who helped claim the two points for the road side, as they won it in Overtime.
Sunday evening in front of a big crowd at the Altrincham ice dome witnessed Manchester having to show their resiliency in a dead rubber game to come back against the Telford Tigers as they came back from a two goal deficit.
The game started off with the Phoenix coming hard and saw Telford almost backing off from the physical play in the early stage of the game in what was a nothing game for both sides, However that seemed to change a bit when Former Phoenix man Scott McKenzie, took a big hit and stayed down from it to which at that point seen the Tigers upped their game a bit more.
It was a fairly open game between the two sides and definitely had an end of season feel about it during periods of the game.
The game opening goal of the game came against the run of play with Phoenix being the most threatening side in the contest, with Tigers netminder Declan Ryan having yet another of his blinding games for Telford against Manchester. 
Telford`s opener came from a big error by Ben Wood when the defender tried to play the puck out through the middle of the defensive zone and his poor clearance fell perfectly onto Dan Davies stick, which then saw the forward skating freely on goal and fired over Steve Fone glove for the 1-0 lead at 7-44.
Manchester who was by far the aggressors in the opening twenty minutes of play, then finally broke through the defences of Declan Ryan when Joe Graham pass around the boards came to Tony Hand and the Player-Coach picked out James Archer who was skating towards goals and then saw  the Sheffield-born forward lift the puck over Ryan to level at 1-1 at 14-08.
In the Second period it saw Telford retake the lead in the contest after Rob Schnabel tried to clear it out of the zone and saw Rick Plant do extremely well to keep it inside the zone. Plant had caught the puck out of the air near the blue line and then passed it over to Miika Kivitanta, who then dragged the defence over to one side of the ice before finding his fellow country man and another former Manchester forward in Timo Kuuluvainen. Kuuluvainen made the Phoenix pay for not closing him down and rifled it one time past Fone for the 2-1 lead coming a 23-12.
We then saw both sides pick up penalties with Luke Boothroyd skating off for Hooking at 32-15 and when the penalty ended the Phoenix man was given the puck up ice on a breakaway chance and seen Michal Pavlu bring the Phoenix man down with no call against the Telford man. After the whistle Andy McKinney lost it with it the referee for not giving a penalty shot or even a penalty over it and instead talked himself into a 10 minute misconduct penalty as well as angering the home fans.
Less than a minute later the officials arguably made a levelling out call for the Boothroyd trip and seen Tigers Nathan Salem penalised at 34-36 for the softest Slashing call you will see. Telford then had another man go into the box when Rick Plant was called for High Sticks at 35-04 and from that resulting powerplay saw Manchester unable to draw level.
Telford then increased their lead to a 3-1 score, when some good battling by the forwards near the boards seen Dan Rose get the puck near the blue line and with Frantisek Bakrlik accidently screening his goalie at the front of the net, it saw Rose blast go in at 38-59 which saw the huge contingent of the ‘Tiger Nation’ celebrate down by the corner.
It also saw the distinct possibility of the away team in this series, winning every game as in the five previous games between the two sides it had the away side come out victors on each occasion.
The third period saw Manchester come back into the game after Telford had much the better of the second period and looked to be the stronger side in the middle stanza.
At 41-20 James Archer beat Declan Ryan top shelf to see the Phoenix move within one of the Telford lead, after Tony Hand and Michal Psurny assisted  Archer`s second goal, with the forward getting the puck in the slot and despite Ryan getting a piece of it, he just couldn`t keep it out.
Manchester then found themselves back on a penalty kill after a strange passage of play. It saw Jack Watkins have the puck by the boards and then Michal Pavlu came right through the youngster from behind leading to Richard Bentham taking exception to the poor hit and then had Watkins wanting some revenge on Pavlu, with the Telford man wanting no part of any Phoenix player after Bentham thrown a punch or two.
After the incident the penalties given out was that both Watkins and Bentham got called for Roughing, whilst Pavlu picked up just a two minute call for Boarding as he was lucky not to get a 2+10 for checking from behind.
That then saw Manchester shorthanded and much like what seems to happen to Phoenix a lot with their penalty kill unit popping up with a goal after James Archer had skated down the right wing and put a pass across for Frankie Bakrlik, that saw the Czech man effort saved by Ryan but Archer was there to follow up on the rebound and gave Phoenix the tying goal at 50-50 with a shorthanded goal and also James Archer`s Hat-Trick goal to boot.
Phoenix then got the go-ahead goal in the contest, when Schnabel cleared round the boards and took a funny bounce off a Tigers skate which saw the puck come straight out to Michal Psurny and then put Tony Hand clean through on goal. From there the pass went to the ‘Great One’  and  as he beared down on Ryan in the Telford goals, Hand fired past him and put the hosts 4-3 up at 51-20 and had Telford well and truly rocked at that stage of game.
Telford then made it all square at 54-27 of the game after Rick Plant kept his legs going, with the forward braking through challenge after challenge which saw the Phoenix defence unable to dispossess the puck off him and then seen Plant lay it across the crease for Miika Kiviranta to score and make it 4-4.
We then had a little scuffle after Bakrik gave a little hit off the ice to Pavlu and then saw him knocked down from behind by the Tigers defenceman at the front of goal. Ryan then made a save and lost the puck in the melee which then seen McKinney jab at the pads of Ryan for the puck and had the Tigers defending their netminder by shoving the Manchester man away.
From there Bakrlik was being held down by Pavlu, which saw the Czech forward not too pleased and dropped the gloves taking his frustrations out of the defenceman. While he was throwing the punches Joe Miller was trying to break up the fight by grabbing the Phoenix man and then pulled his head down before other got involved in the altercation.
That should have seen Miller thrown out for a 3rd man in call, but the officials didn`t call it and so saw Michal Pavlu got just a two minute call for Charging, while Frankie Bakrlik was furious and got a Two for Roughing and then a 10 minute penalty for Dropping the gloves all called at 57-49.

With no further goals in the Third period we headed to overtime and saw exactly a minute of overtime gone, before a Pass by Tony Hand was cut out but only as far as Michal Psurny who collected it and saw the Czech forward skate round the back of the defence to put it in for the Overtime winner and seen Phoenix collect a four point weekend, to give them confidence heading into the playoffs next weekend against the Bracknell Bees.


The whole of the evening was more or a build up to the Trophy Presentation of the League Title being handed to Manchester Phoenix and saw Captain Luke Boothroyd  take the title and hold it aloft to preclaim themselves as Kings of the EPL for this season.



ROBIN KOVAR shows off the EPL Championship title

STEVE FONE
Rob Schnabel celebrates with figure skating for the Phoenix Faithful!



MANCHESTER PHOENIX 2013-14

English Premier League GP W OTW OTL L GF GA Pts
1 Manchester Phoenix 54 33 6 2 13 232 157 80
2 Basingstoke Bison 54 31 5 2 16 205 159 74
3 Guildford Flames 54 27 5 5 17 213 174 69
4 Milton Keynes Lightning 54 24 6 4 20 200 182 64
5 Swindon Wildcats 54 23 6 2 23 190 172 60
6 Telford Tigers 54 24 4 1 25 193 182 57
7 Sheffield Steeldogs 54 18 2 8 26 194 226 48
8 Bracknell Bees 54 17 4 4 29 168 210 46
9 Peterborough Phantoms 54 18 0 9 27 177 224 45
10 Slough Jets 54 15 2 3 34 160 246 37






Six Nations: Ireland claim title, England thrash Italy & Welsh dismantle Scots



IRELAND 2014: SIX NATIONS CHAMPIONS!

ITALY  11  – 52 ENGLAND


Mike Brown scores 1st Try    Pic: TheTelegraph

As we came to the final weekend of the Six Nations tournament it saw only England and Ireland having a chance of taking the title home with them and we wouldn`t know the ending till late Saturday night after the final match in the evening was played.
England travelled to Rome to face the winless Italians at the Stadio Olimpico, upon where Stuart Lancaster`s men knew that a victory was the most important aspect first and knew if they did win then they would need to score a fairly large total to see them try and eat into the points difference of Ireland, who had run up a mammoth margin.

It was the home side that took the lead in the game when England`s pack stood up in the scrum and saw French official Pascal Gauzere award the Italian`s a penalty and seen Luciano Orquera kick through the uprights for the 3-0 lead.
 England then responded to the host`s early lead when they turned the game in a blink of an eye, first off through Owen Farrell converting a penalty over that saw Italy concede and then that was followed up with a try from arguably the player of the tournament in Mike Brown. England`s attack saw them move the ball out wide before Luther Burrell pass towards the touchline, saw Mike Brown take the pass and left the defender for dead as he ran past him to touch down and then Farrell kicked over for the conversion for a 10-3 score.

Orquera then kicked over another penalty for the Italians to see them close the gap to four points not before England then hit back once more, as they charged towards the home side line and saw Danny Care play a little ball off to Owen Farrell and the fly half ran in from close range to make the score board say 17-6 with the kicked extras.
Mike Brown then grabbed his second try of the game for England, when good build up play by England from their own line-out seen Owen Farrell`s pass to the speedy Brown then collect and motor home through the gap in the home side defence to score another try and make it 24-6 and looked to have victory wrapped up already.

In the second forty Italy found themselves down to Fourteen-men, when Marco Bortolami grabbed a loose ball from a Luther Burrell lunging effort as it was kicked away by Leonardo Sarto and Bortolami fell on top of the ball in an offside position and was shown a yellow card for the act and sat for 10 minutes in the sin bin.
England made the most of their extra man advantage, as more good passing play by the visitor`s seen Jack Nowell dive over for a try to see them lead 31-6 and it was a case now of how many more points would get score. England then seemed to stifle their own momentum with constant changes in the side and it took a while for them to regain their play and momentum.

Mako Vunipola then scored an easy try, after Billy Twlevetrees was brought down five metres from the Italy try line and seen Vunipola take the pass and stroll over for to make it 38-6 for the visitors at that point.
The Azzuri was visibly tired with the constant defending that they were forced into making all game and saw Manu Tuilagi swat off the home side tired tackling, to see England score their Sixth try of the game for a 45-6 lead and pushing towards the 50 points barrier.
Pic: therugbyblog.com
Italy did get some consolation in the game through their stand out player in this tournament in Leonardo Sarto, with the Winger intercepting a pass by the England forwards and ran it back for a try, to give the Italian fans something to cheer on what was otherwise a miserable day for the home side.
With the last play of the game, England pushed for one more try and seen Captain Chris Robshaw go over to hit the Fifty points mark,  after George Ford put him through for a simple try and after the conversion it saw the demolition of Italy complete with the final score  52-11 to England and saw them eat into the Irish points difference too.




WALES   51- 3 SCOTLAND


Pic: BBCSPORTS
This match was the dead rubber of the games after Wales lost their chance to regain the title with defeat to England the previous week at Twickenham, For Scotland it was a chance to hand out debuts to new players ahead of their tour of American in the Summer.

Greig Laidlaw put the Scots 3-0 up with an early penalty conversion that was then cancelled out by Wales as they hit right back with a short distance kick from the boot of Dan Biggar as he put it over to draw level.
Pic: Msn.com
Wales took the lead in the game with the Welsh forwards having the ball virtually on the Scottish try line, before then switching it out wide with Scarlets player Liam Williams diving over for the try in the corner to see the home side move 10-3 in front with Dan Biggar adding the extras.

Stuart Hogg then saw his sides hopes of victory all but disappear, when the Full-back rushed at Dan Biggar with very late and ugly hit with his shoulder after the Fly half cleared the ball down field. It was a terrible and stupid move that resulting in Hogg catching Biggar flush on the chin and sent him crashing to the deck much like a boxer suffering a knockout punch does.
Originally the referee Jerome Garces, had only shown the Scotland full back a yellow card, that before the replays were shown on the big screen and the reaction of the crowd and the sight of the incident, made the referee change his mind and send him off.

PIC:  BBCSPORTS
Once Biggar had restored his faculties and dusted himself down he then slotted his kick to see Wales move 13-3 ahead. Wales then score their second try of the game after a great counter attack by Liam Williams down the left flank, saw him evade a couple of Scottish players before handing to Mike Philips and from their he passed it onto George North who ran it home for a try to led 20-3.
Jamie Roberts then went over for another try to the home side, when play down the left flank saw North and Jonathan Davies run towards the Scottish 22 metre line before a pass by Davies went to Roberts and touched down to make it 27-3 at half time.

George North then took a pass from Davies by the wing and after Dougie Fife last gasp tackle couldn`t see the maundering Winger stopped, he opened the scoring the second half. Wales then scored a superb team try that saw them play it out from a ruck that occurred from a losing Scottish line out, from that point the Scots paid the penalty for not winning their lineout with the ball going wide and seen half the Welsh side touch the ball at some point in the build up, till Faletau finally dished the ball to Roberts and he went over.


Faletau then made it 44-3 for the outgoing Six Nations champions, as they simply stampeded over a poor Scotland side that due to the Hogg red card in the opening half, it seen them hopelessly outplayed at the Millennium Stadium with James Hook rounding off the misery for Scotland, with the late substitute stretching out for the try line and made it 51-3 to see them finish with a flourish.
highlights:


FRANCE 20-22 IRELAND


Johnny Sexton celebrates try           Pic via: rbs6nations.com
The remaining match in this year’s tournament saw Brian O Driscoll swansong as his Ireland side was just 80 minutes away from lifting the Six Nations crown, needing only a win to take the crown. Ireland`s only worry was that there last victory in France or Paris was that back in 2000, when a certain Mr O` Driscoll scored a Hat-trick that day to seal victory.

It saw the French take the lead in the contest as Maxime Machenaud kicked over two penalties to see the hosts lead 6-0.
Johnny Sexton then went over from close range after Chris Henry flipped a pass out backwards and saw Ireland go over for a try and had Sexton miss a rare kick at goal to trail 6-5.
More Ireland pressure caught out the France defence horribly as they had more holes in their defence than a block of Swiss cheese, Andrew Trimble then exchanged passes with Connor Murray and he went behind the post for the 12-6 lead as Sexton added the two points.

France then grabbed a try to put them back in it, when Brice Dulin collected from a clever bit of play by the French when Remi Tales put a cross field kick over to the far side and saw France`s player of the tournament in the statuesque Yohan Hugent and he pushed the ball backwards into the path of Dulin with the Full Back getting it down, to see French back in front at 13-12.
Half time came and saw France led by a single point in what was a thrilling finale to the Six Nations tournament with the result still in the balance.


Second half saw Ireland strike back as Johnny Sexton picked up his second brace of tries in as many games, which helped see Ireland move ahead of the home team. Brian O Driscoll must have thought he was on for a try when he got ahead of his man, but he was tackled short and saw Ireland quick play the ball from the ruck and seen the incoming Sexton take the pass to dashed through the gap to score the try.
Sexton soon after made sure his kicking returned to normality, after the fly half had seen two kicks missed in the opening half and he made sure this time round as the score moved to 22-13 to the Irish.

Cian Healy was then lucky not getting a yellow card or penalty against his side, when the Irish Prop coming from the side with his head, knocking Louis Picamoles flying backwards and staying down as Picamoles stood over the ruck near the Irish line.
Dimitri Szarzewki then was awarded a try for France when he played it up against the posts which is counted as the try line, however replays shows he lost control of the ball when putting it down and seen France escaped with the try and after Machenaud kicked the conversion, it saw Ireland lead by a slim margin of two points with still quarter of an hour left to play.
Brian O` Driscoll hold the title aloft:  Pic bleacherreport.net

Drama then came right in the dying minutes of this great contest, when a pass out wide by the home side looked to gone forwards by Pascal Pape and had Damien Chouly looking like he picked it up in front of him and not behind him. Referee Steve Walsh then went upstairs for the TMO and the crucial decision came and saw no try awarded and a forward pass by the French as the cause.

France had less than a minute to score in the game and with them pushing hard and gaining in drop goal range, Ireland won a penalty and seen Walsh blow for full time to see a mixture of emotion on the Ireland side, with players celebrate and fall to their knees in joy and some exhausted and crying over their historic win by 22-20 in Paris.

Phoenix clinch League championship in title Showdown

 

Manchester Phoenix  5 – 2 Basingstoke Bison
( Phoenix are EPL Champions)
                        Archer , Schanbel, PsurnyBakrlik, Kovar                                             Melachrino, Sheppard
                         
Manchester Phoenix clinched their Second English Premier League crown on Sunday night after a hard fought and fiercely contested win against the side that pushed them all the way to wire for the league championship in the Basingstoke Bison.
Manchester had a chance the night previous to make it easier on themselves when they made the trip down to Swindon`s Link Centre and a place that the Phoenix had won the previous two occasions. However a mixture of Manchester not playing well and Swindon Wildcats putting a very good solid team effort together and seen Swindon become the only side to inflict a shutout on the Phoenix , which made the task plain and clear for Manchester now in their quest for the title.
The permutations for the clash was easy, a win for Phoenix by two clear goals would see them become league champions, while a one goal win would see them still have their own destiny in their hands.
Manchester`s two remaining fixtures  saw very tricky games for the Champs-Elect, with a visit to Peterborough as that would see them have a case of deja vu from their last title run-in, when they last won it back in 2011.
That occasion saw Phoenix lose 6-2 and played an awfully similar way to how their weekend started off this time round too, the other equation was that IF they did lose, then that they would need Bison to drop points in their respective games against either Swindon away or Milton Keynes at home.
Fans of both teams filled the Altrincham Ice Dome with them ready for this title decider between the best two hockey clubs in the EPL this season.
Both sides tried to gain the upper hand on their opponent and saw both of them going shot to shot, check to check and butting heads like bulls in this fast paced intense game It had a feel more of a playoff game than a league match, but that inevitable as both sides knew what was up for grabs in the contest.
The game had exactly the same amount of excitement and buzz over it as the memorable Playoff Semi-final between these two sides in Coventry last season, on that occasion Manchester won edged out the their foe in a shoot-out win. Bison had Phoenix under a bit of pressure and then seen the game see-saw to Manchester as they had a large spell of possession to put the visitors on the back foot.
It saw the home side having a fair few shots on Dean Skinns in the Bison goals, with all the chances they generated it put Skinns on alert with the netminder looking a tad nervy as the Phoenix took shots from all angles and saw Skinns somehow always able to find a way to block the puck or divert it away.



During the opening period we then saw a horrible looking fall for Andrew Melachrino as the Bison forward collided with Rob Schnabel near to the boards and seen the Basingstoke player stay down, as it looked like when he fell backwards he seemed to hit the back of his head on the ice. Tony Hand and Michael Wales at mid ice came to a stop as they decided to stop play themselves despite the referee nearby not thinking it was bad enough to stop play, Melachrino got up after a few minutes after receiving treatment by both club physio`s and saw him eventually return to the bench .


The first goal it seemed would be huge in the context of things as that would give momentum to the side that lead with both sides pushing for the opener and had both netminder`s unsure of where the puck was at times at both ends of the rink.
Then at 12-01 gone in the game the opening goal came by the way of Phoenix forward James Archer, who has had a great scoring season for the Phoenix this year.  It all came after some panic in the Bison defence seen Tony Hand chase down a airbourne puck and quickly passed it out towards the slot beating the despairing dive of Joe Greener and Archer got it on his stick and fired it high into the net, to see a 1-0 lead to Manchester and seen the home fans go delirious.
Frantisek Bakrlik was then sent to the penalty box for a Holding penalty at 13-51 and he was joined fairly soon by his fellow countryman in Rob Schnabel, with the defenceman picking up an Interference call at 15-03 to see the home side on a 5 on 3 penalty kill.
Manchester then did fantastic job on the penalty kill which saw both players returned to the ice for the home side, but shortly after with the home side getting it back to five on five and then the Visitors scored a very fortuitous goal at 17-16.
Bison was searching for an equaliser and when Matt Selby shot at Steve Fone was stopped, the Phoenix netminder was trying to find where the puck had gone and as he looked down, the puck bounced on the line after it was caught up in his shirt and Andrew Melachrino was on hand to push home and made it a 1-1 game and seen another weird goal to be scored at the dome this year.


With a top of the table clash you can always expect some players to try and do anything they can in which to gain an upper hand by using some veteran moves, both sides used their own methods to try and get one up over the other side and saw Bakrlik come under some rough treatment by Michael Wales who at one point looked like they was going to drop the gloves and the Czech also came under for some treatment by Nicky Chinn, with a couple of Phoenix players stepping in too.
Aaron Connelly then limped heavily off to the Bench moments from the end of the period after a lovely hip check on the boards by Luke Boothroyd and saw him in a lot of discomfort before the end of period. Kurt Reynolds then picked up a late slashing call with nine seconds left in the first period to and would see them have a 1:51 remaining on the 5 on 4 powerplay, as the home side just shaded the first period.
In the Second period it saw Manchester fail to make anything on their early extra man advantage with the Bison returning back to full strength and seen Basingstoke come out with a bit more purpose in their play not, with the home side struggling to clear the puck from their zone for a early part of the period. Manchester then had their spell of possession in the period too and with Bison looking a bit rocked by the home side, Skinns produced a good save to deny the hosts a go ahead goal and see them breath a sigh of relief.
Sadly for Basingstoke it was just prolonging the wait as Rob Schnabel wrist shot beat Dean Skinns for 2-1 too see Manchester retake the lead once more with Psurny and Hand assisting at 29-51.
Nicky Chinn then managed to get behind the Phoenix backline and en route to goal before he somehow managed to trip himself up and lost control of the puck in doing so, which drew a loud ironic cheer by the Phoenix faithful as he slid towards the boards.
Tomas Karpov then had an attack which saw him skate that quickly on goal that he didn`t seem to be able to stop himself and used the goals as a safety net, with the Czech Republic native tumbling dramatically inside the Phoenix nets with Fone getting out of the way quickly, as Karpov took the net off in the process.
It seemed also like a few Bison players were trying to impersonate ‘Bambi on ice’ as a couple of them seemed to be on the ice more than stood up.
Manchester then increased their lead at 34-29, when a counter-attack led by Michal Psurny saw him play in James Archer down the left side and his drop pass went to Tony Hand, Hand then make a pass towards the back post and had Psurny finish off the move with the Czech man tapping it into an unguarded net, with Skinns caught out of position for a 3-1 lead and looked to have been the goal that would see Phoenix pull away. 
Alas for Phoenix it wasn`t to be the case, as exactly a minute of play from Phoenix going two goals up in the game, Bison forechecking pressured the Phoenix defence causing Schnabel to lose the puck and had Andrew Melachrino persistence pay off as his pass fell to Player-Coach of the Bison in Doug Sheppard and he stuck it high over Fone Shoulder to score with a nice back handed effort, that made it 3-2 to the home side at 35-24 and looked to be game on again or so we thought. 

A couple minutes from the Bison pulling a goal back, it seen them trying to kill off a Phoenix powerplay as Joe Rand picked up a Boarding penalty on Luke Boothroyd who wasn`t impressed by the hit what so ever and then saw Ciaran Long follow for a Tripping call to see them on a 5 on 3 powerplay with penalties at 35-12 & 36-19.
From the two man advantage it saw Manchester pulling Bison all over the place and just as Rand`s penalty had expired,  Frantisek Bakrlik then passed out to Robin Kovar and his shot came off the boards behind the Bison net and saw Tony Hand quick to put it in and restore their two goal lead again which was what they needed.
Phoenix led 4-2 with 37-55 of the game gone and saw Basingstoke upping their shooting now as they were trying to find a way back into the game now.Manchester then held on to the two goal lead as we headed into the second intermission of the play and saw Bison shade the period, but Manchester was being more clinical in their finishing
As we headed to the third and final period, Manchester had twenty minutes to keep their two goal lead intact and for them to become league champions. Basingstoke much like the second period came out the traps quicker in the third and they needed to fire in a quick goal to ruin the party and also give Phoenix something to think about as well as it could see them possibly draw level if they got to a good start.
Jacob Corson-Heron then picked up a High Stick penalty when he tussling with a opponent and in doing so caught a passing Bison player that was skating close by at 42-32, Phoenix did another great job in killing the penalty off as their penalty kill unit was excellent the whole game.
James Archer then got a stick to the face himself with Andrew Melachrino sitting for two minutes for a High Sticks call at 49-47 and saw the penalty seemed to take the wind out of Basingstoke`s sails. Phoenix tried to find a fifth goal but Skinns stood up well and saw the Manchester powerplay not make too much of it as Bison did well themselves in killing off their respective penalty.
Joe Baird then took a Hooking penalty for the Bison, when his stick was wrapped around Frantisek Bakrlik with the Czech forward twisting and turning his way through the visitors defence, but Baird upended him at 51-46.
 Manchester was now looking comfortable in the game for the first time and seen them pinning the herd in their zone, with their opponents now trying to launch one last final push and resulted in Robin Kovar shooting the puck out of the 
playing surface for a Delay of Game call at 55-47.Nerves then started to slightly creep into the Manchester play now, with the possibly chance that the two goal lead could easily disappear and see them lose out on the chance to clinch the title if they switched off at the back if they conceded now.
With under two minutes remaining in the game now, Phoenix was soaking up the Bison pressure and trying to counter when they can, while they were mainly defending for all their worth.
Kovar Empty net goal makes it 5-2

Basingstoke pulled Skinns for the extra man and saw Robin Kovar have an effort that went wide and seen play come all the way back inside the Phoenix zone with 0:24 on the scoreboard for an Icing call.

Phoenix had to hold off one last attack by their rivals, before the puck was played round the boards and saw Kovar collect and flip it down the ice to have the crowd counting down to victory.


With the Phoenix faithful getting to one second the puck crossed the line to seal the victory and more importantly another League title success for Tony Hand and his men, with the traditional ritual of players throwing sticks and equipment up in the air with joy to start the party at the Ice Dome with Manchester Phoenix becoming the Newly-crowned EPL Champions of 2013/14 season and a win that goes along with their Playoff success at the back end of last season.








English Premier League
GP
W
OTW
OTL
L
GF
GA
Pts
1
Manchester Phoenix  (CHAMPIONS)
52
33
4
2
13
224
151
76
2
Basingstoke Bison
52
30
5
2
15
200
155
72
3
Guildford Flames
53
26
5
5
17
209
171
67
4
Milton Keynes Lightning
52
24
6
3
19
196
174
63
5
Telford Tigers
52
24
4
0
24
186
173
56
6
Swindon Wildcats
51
20
6
2
23
174
165
54
7
Sheffield Steeldogs
52
17
2
8
25
183
218
46
8
Bracknell Bees
52
17
3
4
28
162
204
44
9
Peterborough Phantoms
52
17
0
8
27
172
219
42
10
Slough Jets
52
15
2
3
32
155
231
37













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BOD signs off at home for Ireland, France steal a win and England gets revenge

IRELAND  46 – 7  ITALY



Brian O Driscoll gets a guard of honor as he leaves the field :  Pic:ESPN Scrum


Ireland remain top of the Six Nations Championship table as they thrashed Italy 46-7 at the Aviva Stadium as the home crowd bid a farewell to one of it`s sporting legends and gave a great send off to Brian O` Driscoll, in what was the famous number Thirteen`s final appearance in the famous Green jersey of Ireland at home.
The game it`s self  was another example of domination by the home side as they pulled apart the Italian side with ease, in what was really a sideshow around Brian O` Driscoll final home for his Country.
It took just Six minutes of play to see the man in action as the centre shown off his handling skills to perfection, to help set up the first try. Johnny Sexton led the attack and after a little quick one-two with O Driscoll, Sexton dashed for the line and scored the opening points of the game with the Irish getting into their stride early, leading 7-0 with the extras.
Italy then scored a try of their own after Andrew Trimble put a beast of a hit on Paul Derbyshire which then saw the ball ran loose and collected by Leonardo Sarto, who ran down the touchline before dropped the shoulder with the oncoming Rob Kearney and saw Sarto go behind the posts for a 7-7 score.

 Sexton runs to the line  :Telegraph.co.uk
  Johnny Sexton kicked over a penalty for the hosts and then saw Trimble go over for another Ireland try, with some unhappy over the try being awarded. As in the build up to it, Ireland had run the ball right next to where Gordon D`Arcy was getting some treatment by the physio on the pitch and saw O Driscoll then make chest pass toward to Trimble, which saw him take the pass and go over for 17-7 with Sexton adding the two points.

Cian Healy then grabbed the third try for Ireland after he picked the ball up from a ruck and saw him crash over from close range unchallenged for a 22-7 scoreline. Not too long after O Driscoll was at his best once again as while being held by the defence, the Centre then had presence of mind and the unbelievable strength to flip a ball out wide to the Kearney brothers, as first off Rob had the ball before David came on the overlap and he in turn played it back for Sexton who joined on the play to score his second try of the game and put the game out of reach now for the Italians at 27-7 after 59 minutes of the game gone.

The Aviva Stadium then all stood to give a standing ovation to Brian O Driscoll in his final Home game for the Irish as he was replaced on the hour mark and seen the fans continue to applaud and show their appreciation for  the most capped player not only for Ireland but the history of the game too collecting his 140 cap of his Illustrious career.

Ireland then grabbed their 5th try of the game, with them turning over the ball from Italy and from there saw the ball played to substitute Sean Cronin and he dashed in the corner in the 68th minute, with Paddy Jackson kicking the extra points for a 34-7 score.

Andrew Trimble scores Try for Irish:  BBC Sports
Italy was physically battered and broken by the Irish, so it came as no surprise when they continued to pile the pressure on more and score another try, with Fergus McFadden taking a pass from Eoin Reddan and McFadden had a clear run to the line as Ireland was handing out a damn good beating to the visitors.
With the 80th minute gone, Italy must have thought the home side would just kick the ball out to end the game and take pity, but they were wrong. The home side went in search of one last try and they got it, when Jack McGrath picked it up from the ruck and powered through the shattered Italian defence to see Ireland record their SIXTH try of the game and make it 46-7 and another rampant performance by the leaders and favourites to win the Championship. 



SCOTLAND   17 – 19  FRANCE 
Pic: BBC Sports
  
Scotland will look back on this game and think it wasn`t France that beat them, it was Scotland that beat themselves as they were in control for the majority of the game. It was the away side that took the lead after the first minute of play with Maxime Machenaud kicking over a penalty and then extended the lead with another penalty to see them 6-0 up.
Hugent bolts the full length of pitch for try: bbc sports

Scotland then scored a try from nothing as Stuart Hogg put up a high kick into the French in-goal area and saw Yoann Hugent and Brice Dulin get involved in another mess in defence and saw Sean Lamont get in the mix too, but instead saw the two French players mess up their lines and Hogg caught the ball and grounded it for a try, to see the Scots 7-6 up with Greig Laidlaw kicking the conversion. 



Machenaud then kicked a penalty over for the visitors which saw them moved back ahead to go 9-7, that was till Tommy Seymour scored a well worked try by Scotland as a lot of quick hands by the hosts saw Duncan Weir pass to Matt Scott and he then switched it back to Seymour who galloped to the line and put the home side 14-9 up, with Laidlaw continuing his 100% kicking record. 
Scotland headed into the half time break leading as the French looked far from a side that was challenging for the title this season, based on this and previous performances. 

France was then gifted points by the home side when the Scots was pushing their opponents back in their own 22 and so when an attempted long pass was intercepted by Hugent in the middle of the defence, he then ran the full length of the field to score a sensational solo try and see Machenaud kick over the two point conversion for a 16-14 score line. 

Duncan Weir who was the hero two weeks ago for the Scots with a drop goal against Italy saw him kick over another drop goal, to see the Murrayfield crowd rise to their feet in celebrations and see the hosts take a slim one point advantage for a 17-16 lead after 61 minutes of the game.

The home side looked almost certain to hold on as the French was looking clueless and out of sorts in this contest.  
With just over five minutes in the game left to go Duncan Weir had a chance to seal the win for the Scots with a penalty kick, but unfortunately for him and the home side the kick swerved away of the right hand post and seen the ball go wide.
France was then handed a chance to steal the win from their hosts as Jean-Marc Doussain kicked what proved to be the winning points in the game as from 20 metres out, Doussain converted the kick and the French picked up a lucky 19-17 win. Scotland will look back and wonder how on earth they managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, when the Scots were in charge for the game.



ENGLAND  29 – 18  WALES 

Danny Care takes the applause after scoring the opening try: Telegraph.co.uk
England had been waiting a year for this fixture to come as they looked to get revenge on the Welsh for last year’s title decider in Cardiff`s Millenium Stadium, where Wales had bullied, battered and demolished the England side with power and pace and seen them humbled by the Champions. 
This time round though, the shoe would be on the other foot with England dishing out their own revenge for their loss and in doing so killed off any chances of Wales retaining their title, for what would have been a historic three championships in a row. 
Wales made good start when their scrum won an early penalty inside the opening couple of minutes and that was what helped the Welsh win last time out against their bitter rival. That was as good as it got for Wales as England then started to step up after that early setback in the scrum and saw the home side drive toward the Welsh line.
Wales in the process conceded a penalty and saw Danny Care take a quick tap on the five-metre line, with the England man`s quick thinking seen him quickly crash over for a try with the away side switching off and was the easiest try Care will ever score in his career.
Owen Farrell who endured a torrid game in that encounter Twelve months ago in Cardiff, saw his kicking immaculate all day with the boot and recorded a 100% success rate to give the hosts lead 7-0.
Wales was then awarded a penalty after Courtney Lawes failed to roll away at the ruck and saw Wales kicker Leigh Halfpenny have the simplest of penalty kicks to see the score become 7-3 in favour of the English.

Burrell dives over for the try:  BBC SPORTS
Both sides then traded penalty kicks with England not keeping their discipline as they were battering the Welsh side, but they were making silly errors and helped the champions stay within touch of the home side at the half hour mark, with the score moving onto 13-9 to England. 
French Referee Roman Poite then wanted to join in on the game himself as he blocked off a Welsh tackler and then got a little hit from Courtney Lawes to see him run into a massive gap, before play being brought back for a scrum. Poite the former French detective then held his hand up over the incident and saw both teams raise a smile over it all.
However both sides were soon back at it and saw England grab a try through the quick thinking of Billy Twelvetrees, as his grubber kick behind the Wales defence in the corner, saw Luther Burrell first to it and got downward pressure on it for a try to make it 18-9 before Farrell added two more points to the total for 20-9.
England continued to shoot themselves in the foot, giving away two late penalties in the first half which handed Wales a lifeline with Halfpenny kicking both over to see his side to trail by five points at half time, losing 20-15. 
The second half saw Owen Farrell kick over a penalty for England with the hosts forcing the Welsh to concede the penalty at the scrum and with the kick seen England move further ahead.
Gethin Jenkins was then shown the yellow card and made to sit out the game for ten minutes and put his side down to 14 men in the process after all the warning he was constantly given for over not rolling away. 
Triple crown winners :Yahoo sports
   Farrell stepped up and slotted over 26-15 and if England had been disciplined enough in the match, then Wales would not have scored. Plus all the points the Welsh did score came from the boot of Leigh Halfpenny and it wasn`t just the boot that he tried to help Wales with as he made a last ditch tackle on Lawes to stop him grabbing another try. In stopping the try Halfpenny suffered a dislocated shoulder and had to be substituted as his Six Nations campaign came to a painful end along with England dismantling them too.
Farrell completed the scoring in the game as he helped kick England to revenge and a victory that gave them the Triple Crown along with hopes of landing the title next weekend, depending on if they can beat Italy in Rome and also on how the Ireland/France game finishes up too.


POS TEAM PL W D L PF PA DIFF TF TA PTS
1 No change (1) IRELAND 4 3 0 1 110 29 81 13 2 6
2 No change (2) ENGLAND 4 3 0 1 86 54 32 7 4 6
3 Up (4) FRANCE 4 3 0 1 81 78 3 7 7 6
4 Down (3) WALES 4 2 0 2 71 76 -5 4 6 4
5 No change (5) SCOTLAND 4 1 0 3 44 87 -43 4 8 2
6 No change (6) ITALY 4 0 0 4 52 120 -68 6 14 0

Bakrlik Hat trick helps Phoenix comeback in Thriller!



   
               


     MANCHESTER PHOENIX      5   –  4     GUILDFORD FLAMES

                Bakrlik  x 3                                                                                                                   Opatovsky       
               Psurny                                                                                                                                Hemmings
              Kovar                                                                                                                           Kristoffersson x2




An unbelievable comeback by the Manchester Phoenix saw the home side battle back from a two-goal deficit to go to the top of the EPL table with victory and with news filtering through that the leaders the Basingstoke Bison lost, it made for a perfect Saturday evening for the Altrincham based side. The result had looked well and truly out of the equation early on in the final period, with the visiting Guildford Flames taking a 3-1 lead and looked like they would go on and see the game out as Phoenix didn`t look like they could get back into the contest at all from a  3-1 score line. Phoenix shown battling qualities and plenty of hard work to them get back in the match and as a result saw them score three unanswered goals to see them defeat the out-going league champions in the Guildford Flames 5-4 in a thriller at the dome.

  Manchester knew they had to bounce back right away after a disastrous game down in Peterborough on Thursday night in which saw them lose 6-4 to the Phantoms and seen Andy McKinney thrown out of the match for High Sticks, along with Rob Schnabel and Tony Hand getting Game Misconducts after the game. Richard Bentham also saw his original Match penalty downgraded to a game penalty too, as it was a very much a night to forget for the Phoenix.
    

Phoenix welcomed the current League Champions to the Altrincham Ice Dome in the Guildford Flames Saturday night and saw them wanting to get revenge on the Phoenix after they inflicted a home defeat on the Flames not too long ago, Phoenix led in the head to heads with a 3-2 record in games over the seasons.
Play early on saw Manchester having the lion share of possession, but they wasn`t causing Mark Lee in the Guildford nets any trouble what so ever as he hardly faced much rubber on him in the opening period of play, Phoenix was out working the normally drilled Guildford team and seen them have more possession but wasn`t making use of it. 
The Flames had Slovakian forward Martin Opatovsky head to the box for High Sticks at 13-21 and saw the home side unable to get their Powerplay working at all in the two minutes with the extra man. However as the seconds ticked down on the penalty to the Flames, they then scored the game opening goal.
As time had just expired on Opatovsky penalty, Branislav Kvetan just flipped the puck out of his zone and went towards the Slovakian forward who had just stepped back on the ice from the penalty box. Milos Melcherik then skated up ice to see a 2 on 0 for the visitors and saw after a neat one-two between the Guildford attackers, Fone dragged out of position and gave Opatovsky the easy task of tapping it into an empty goal for a 1-0 Flames lead after 15-29 in the game.
The goal was very much against the run of play in all honesty as the Home side had the puck more but never really cut out any chances at all, but they weren`t shooting the puck much at all and was just passing and recycling the puck down by the corners in the Flames zone for the main. Both teams had a player go the box when during a Phoenix attack, Jez Lundin and Frantisek Bakrlik decided to get closer behind the Flames net as they both picked up penalties in the incident with Inteference and Holding calls at 18-04. Phoenix on every occasion tried the same method and was coming to nothing, which seen the visitors take their chance when it came and went into the first break 1-0 up, with the Phoenix more than shading the opening period on possession and play but not the score.
Second period saw Guildford shade the middle stanza with Opatovsky once again causing problems for the home team with his trickery and skill and had Phoenix in a lot of trouble during the second period. Flames Swedish forward Marcus Kristoffersson then started to get some joy against the Phoenix defence, as he began to make a couple of plays and then saw Nicky Watt head to the box, for a High Sticks penalty at 24-24 and was soon followed by Branislav Kvetan, who got called for a Delay of Game penalty at 24-37.

  Phoenix found themselves on a 5 on 3 powerplay and saw Manchester finally get on the scoreboard thanks to a nice finish by Frantisek Bakrlik who blasted home his effort for a powerplay goal as he beat Mark Lee to see Phoenix level at 1-1, with assists going to James Archer and  Michal Psurny at 26-04. 
Guildford then retook the lead at 29-11, when play down the left wing saw Martin Opatovsky take a pass by Milos Melicherik and the Slovakian skated by the left boards before putting a low pass across the face of goal and Andy Hemmings was on hand to turn the puck in for 2-1 score and saw the Champions back in front.
Rob Schnabel then headed to the box for a High Sticks call and a call that would come up at least Six times in this game. Guildford looked the side more likely side to score again as Kristoffersson and Opatovsky was really making it difficult for the home side, with the home side defence unable to deal with the Import forwards. Former Phoenix man Kristoffersson, then came close to making it 3-1 for the opponents towards the back end of the period, when the Swede skated towards goal and Kristoffersson made a little move, even though he miscued on his shot the momentum saw the puck continued to travel and hit the foot of the post before being cleared away.
Guildford then made it 3-1 after 54 seconds in the third period when Marcus Kristoffersson skated on goal an made a little move on Steve Fone before putting it in the back of the net for a lead that looked to kill the game off.
Phoenix then shown some grit to try and get back into the contest, with some quick passing display between the Czech Connection on the Phoenix powerplay unit and seen Robin Kovar pass to Frantisek Bakrlik and his diagonal pass found Michal Psurny free at the side of the net to slam it home for a one goal game and make it 3-2 at 44:38. After the goal Michal Psurny was trying to pump up the crowd a bit more as he skated back to the bench, but the crowd was ready in it.
Flames once again responded straight away though another Kristofferson strike as he scored his second goal of the game, with him slotting the puck past the netminder and celebrated by sliding on his knees to celebrate after he made it 4-2 to the visitors with the goal clocked at 45-03, as Paul Dixon and David Longstaff was credited with assists.
Despite Guildford scoring, there was a feeling that the game was far from over and so when Phoenix cut into the lead once more; it started the recovery operation with another powerplay goal being score by the hosts. Guildford’s ill discipline was starting to show now, Firstly Branislav Kvetan was sent to sit for a two minute call for another Delay of Game call and then Neil Liddiard was called for Tripping, to put Manchester once again on a 5 on 3 powerplay.
Czech forward Frantisek Bakrlik then smashed one home after Tony Hand pass from behind the goals and saw Bakrlik one time it home, with Michal Psurny helping set up the winning goal for the import forward to make it 4-3 for Phoenix and got the momentum back and swinging it in their favour in this enthralling contest.
Manchester`s tail was well and truly wagging now and seen them net the equaliser through Bakrlik once again, as a Andy Mckinney pass found the Czech sniper and his shot found the bottom corner to beat Lee and seen him fuming conceding these goals as they went from 4-2 up to now being level at 4-4 at 47-53.
As Manchester and Guildford both pushed for what would most likely be the winning goal in the game, Phoenix with time ticking away got given big chance to take the lead for the first time. Nicky Watt got called for a High Sticks call at 56-16 and then with Manchester looking dangerous and pulling the Flames defence about, Kvetan then stupidly whacked the stick out of Robin Kovar`s hands twice, to see the Flames under the cosh at 56-52 and give the hosts a great chance with another 5 on 3 powerplay.
  Phoenix looked a lot more dynamic and mobile compared to normal on the powerplay and at 57-24, the Roof almost blew off the Ice dome with Psurny and Hand passing before Robin Kovar drilled it past Mark Lee and the Dome exploded with noise from the home fans, to see the Phoenix complete the turnaround and lead 5-4 with over 2 minutes of play left in the game after looking dead in the water at one point.  
                                      

Manchester managed to hang on in the dying seconds of the game with the Flames pulling the netminder for the extra skater, but it was to be in vain as Phoenix held on to victory and saw them move above the Basingstoke Bison.
Sunday saw the Phoenix travel down to Shropshire to play the Telford Tigers and came away with a 5-4 victory in another thriller, with goals by James Archer, Richard Bentham, former Telford man Andy McKinney and two strikes by Frantisek Bakrlik.



So with 4 games to go in the regular season, there are still many possible outcomes that may happen yet, with Phoenix ahead by four points heading into the penultimate weekend of the season as they have their fate in their hands and the chance to seal the championship with two wins this upcoming weekend.
However they are two tough games and no gimmie`s for sure, as they have to get past the recent in form Swindon Wildcats and the Link Centre isn`t the easiest place to go and win. If they complete that, they then return home to the ice dome for what looks likely to be the title decider against the Basingstoke Bison on Sunday and Phoenix will have to go into the two games looking at it as two wins to seal the title, anything else and it then favours the Bison.
English Premier League
GP
W
OTW
OTL
L
GF
GA
Pts
1
Manchester Phoenix
50
32
4
2
12
219
147
74
2
Basingstoke Bison
50
29
5
2
14
194
147
70
3
Guildford Flames
52
25
5
5
17
204
169
65
4
Milton Keynes Lightning
50
22
6
3
19
188
171
59
5
Telford Tigers
50
22
4
0
24
175
170
52
6
Swindon Wildcats
49
18
6
2
23
171
165
50
7
Sheffield Steeldogs
50
17
2
8
23
178
209
46
8
Bracknell Bees
51
17
3
4
27
162
203
44
9
Peterborough Phantoms
50
17
0
8
25
169
211
42
10
Slough Jets
50
15
2
3
30
152
220
37

 

Phoenix TV Highlightshttp://t.co/YObQq7fVyL

Phoenix official match report: http://www.manchesterphoenix.co.uk/news/2448/flaming-good-win-phoenix

EPL: Phoenix complete 6 points in Long Weekend








MANCHESTER PHOENIX   4 – 3   SWINDON WILDCATS


Kovar,Archer,Hand,Bakrlik                                            Hoog, Nell 






Manchester Phoenix capped off a tough three games in 3 days on Sunday evening with victory over the Swindon Wildcats 4-3 at the Altrincham Ice dome and in doing so, completed a massive Six Point weekend.
The long weekend started for Manchester on Friday night, with a trip over the Pennines to face their bitter rivals in the Sheffield Steeldogs at Ice Sheffield. It was the hosts that took lead in that game, through former Phoenix player Ben Morgan as he opened the scoring till Michal Psurny drew level for Phoenix, until Andy Hirst then scored the go ahead goal in the contest to see the Yorkshire outfit go 2-1 after the Second period of play. Sheffield kept the lead till the 49th minute of the game, when another Czech forward scored for the visitors when Robin Kovar scored to make it 2-2 and see the game go up for grabs for the remaining 11 minutes. In the final stages of the game, it saw Manchester take victory with just 46 seconds remaining in the game, ironically it was a Yorkshireman that won the game for the Red rosed County with Captain of the Phoenix Luke Boothroyd scoring the game winner on the powerplay.

Saturday Night saw the Phoenix roll into Berkshire to come up against another stiff opponent in the Bracknell Bees, to whom the home side had beaten Phoenix on both occasions at the ‘Hive’ with the first being in a 3-2 shootout and the last visit ending up being a 8-2 massacre of the Manchester side. This game saw Manchester needing to win the game to keep up their momentum of late and also to keep on the tails of Basingstoke too. Much like the Sheffield game it was the hosts that scored first, as Shaun Thompson put the Bees ahead after 3 minutes of play that was till Frantisek Bakrlik made it 1-1 with fellow countryman Rob Schnabel blasting one home from the blue line to see the away side lead 2-1.  Bakrlik added his second of the game with another Czech player getting on the score sheet with Robin Kovar making it 4-1 for the visitors that was until the final 10 minutes of play, when Ben Wood made it five and Phoenix put the Bracknell curse to bed.


Sunday Evening saw Manchester trying to make it 3 wins from 3 after they had come through two games against the toughest and roughest sides in the EPL. Manchester started off brightly and had a couple of shots on Stevie Lyle in the Wildcats goals, but then Manchester then came under a bit of pressure when Swindon went on the powerplay after Joe Graham was called for Hooking call at 2-00 in the opening period. The home side then got back into their groove soon after with the ‘Czech Connection’ joining forces, when Robin Kovar put the Phoenix ahead during a powerplay that saw the Czech man prod home at the front of the net to score for a 1-0 lead at 9-16. It came after a Michal Psurny set up Frantisek Bakrlik and his initial shot was bundled in eventually by Robin Kovar to see the opener of the game and had Lyle not very happy at all.
James Archer then scored a beauty of a goal to make it 2-0 when the forward tipped it in at an angle from a Tony Hand pass saw it go past Lyle with Michal Psurny assisting on the goal coming at 12-14. Player-Coach Tony Hand then added a Third at 17-58, after a pass to Bakrlik outside the zone by Hand saw the Czech forward fire on net and saw Lyle stop the first shot and then a rebound by James Archer and with Lyle unable to make another save Tony Hand followed it up to score and see the home side go 3-0 and almost have the game sewn up early on. 

The Home side looked more fresher while than that of their opponents as they look more lethargic and slow paced than that of the hosts. The Wiltshire side almost seemed stunned by the quickness of the second and third goals being score that and was something that seemed to kill the game off. Both sides then had a player go the box, after Henri Sandvik pull an terrible looking check from behind on Luke Boothroyd and with players pushing and shoving each other, Boothroyd shown his displeasure as he went after Sandvik over the check and they had a little set-two and saw it end as quickly as it started.
Penalties resulted in Luke Boothroyd picking up a 2+2 for Roughing and a further two minute penalty for a bizarre Instigating penalty, meanwhile the Swindon man picked up just a 2 minute penalty for Boarding and then 2+2 for Roughing all at timed at 19-09.
In the Second period Manchester carried on their momentum and seemed to play it conservatively, as their opponents was struggling to create anything of note in the game, with the Phoenix well and truly on form and showing the two previous wins had boosted their confidence no end.  James Archer was then penalised for Goaltender Interference, despite the Swindon Defenseman pushing the forward into the goalie and was still pinning him down on Lyle after the whistle had blown too. From that penalty the Cats got on the scoreboard through Swindon`s Swedish forward Jonas Hoog as Aaron Nell and Aku Pekkarinen picked up assists on the goal to make it 3-1 at 28-24.  With the end fast approaching, Swindon had one last effort and saw Steve Fone deny Swindon a goal, when the netminder looked certain to be beaten as the puck went across the zone and saw Fone literally get a toe to the puck and stop the shot from going in.
Third period wise Phoenix began to show signs of tiredness as it was always going to catch up with them eventually, especially when playing three games in three days as it would take it`s toll on any side. Manchester never seemed to be in too much danger in the match and when Frantisek Bakrlik shot took a deflection that deceived Lyle to make it 4-1 at 52-44 it seemed game, set and match. They had looked to have all but condemned Swindon to a defeat and seen them outplayed, that was till Swindon launched a late comeback in the game. When Joe Graham failed to clear his lines and saw Ryan Watt pass towards Aaron Nell and his shot beat Steve Fone, to which the Manchester netminder was slightly screen for the goal and seen Swindon reduced the game down to a two goal deficit at 55-29. Swindon Wildcats coach Ryan Aldridge then called a time out with 1-07 left in the game while they had a powerplay, as Robin Kovar was currently serving a Delay Of Game penalty at the time and seen them pull Stevie Lyle for the two man advantage.
From the face off Swindon pressed the hosts and a shot fired at Fone from side on by Aaron Nell seen it managed to squeeze it`s way through and find it`s way in the back of net for a Wildcats goal and saw the remaining minute become a tense and nervy one for the Phoenix as they led 4-3. Phoenix tried a couple of attempts at shooting at an empty net with Swindon having no one in between the pipes due to the extra attacker for the remaining 56 seconds of the game, but credit to Swindon they battled in the game and made it tense finale in the the end for Manchester, but Phoenix just held on for the win to see them complete a rare 6 point weekend and boost their chances in the title run-in with Basingstoke. 



English Premier League
GP
W
OTW
OTL
L
GF
GA
Pts
1
Basingstoke Bison
49
29
5
2
13
192
142
70
2
Manchester Phoenix
47
30
4
2
11
205
133
70
3
Guildford Flames
50
25
4
5
16
196
161
63
4
Milton Keynes Lightning
48
21
6
3
18
182
167
57
5
Telford Tigers
48
22
3
0
23
167
162
50
6
Swindon Wildcats
47
16
6
2
23
163
163
46
7
Sheffield Steeldogs
50
17
2
8
23
178
209
46
8
Bracknell Bees
50
17
3
3
27
159
199
43
9
Peterborough Phantoms
49
16
0
8
25
163
207
40
10
Slough Jets
48
15
2
2
29
148
210
36


Toure`s Wembley magic ignite City victory

MANCHESTER CITY       3  –  1        SUNDERLAND
Toure  54′ Nasri 56′ Navas 90                                                                                            Borini 9′

CAPITAL ONE  CUP WINNERS 2014: MANCHESTER CITY 

A strike from the ‘blue’ saw one of the greatest League Cup Final goals ever scored at Wembley by Yaya Toure inspire his Manchester City team mates to come from a goal down, to beat Gus Poyet`s gutsy Sunderland side 3-1 in the first showpiece final of the season and see Manuel Pellegrini lift the Capital One Cup to claim his first Managerial trophy in European football as City had to battle back to claim victory.
The result looked more like a pipe dream after a terrible First half for Manchester City that saw Sunderland put their opponents on the back foot for the whole of the opening 45 minutes of play, with Sunderland playing some lovely attacking football and had City looking to have reoccurring nightmares of that day last May in the FA Cup final when the Millionaires were beaten by the paupers in Wigan Athletic, in the last time City played at Wembley.
Gus Poyet`s men had easily the toughest run to reach the Cup final, having to knockout the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United over two legs and then winning the shoot-out, to see the Black Cats reach their first cup final since back in 1992 when they lost out to Liverpool in the FA Cup. Sunderland was imperious at home through the competition as they won every round at home in the run to the final and was hoping that they could transmit that form to Wembley.
Borini Celebrates League cup opening goal  Pic: ThGuardian 
Sunderland had the ball in the back of the net after just 7 minutes of play gone in the game, but the flag had gone up for an offside with 3 Sunderland players all in an offside position. However in the 9th minute of the game they did have the ball in the back of the net  and it counted too, it was fairly obvious game plan by the Black Cats as they targeted down the City left and in particular Martin Demichelis, who is the weakest link for the Manchester team. The experienced defender had been out paced by the run of Fabio Borini on his inside and in doing so lost his man which put his team in trouble, that led to City Captain Vincent Kompany trying to clear the ball out of play and could only kick it against the chest of Borini who chased down the loose ball and with the outside of the right foot bent it far corner past Costel Pantillimon in the City goals, with Manuel Pellgrini giving the tall Romanian the nod. With Sunderland taking a shock lead, the City fans in that end couldn`t believe they had conceded so early while at the other end of Wembley, it was a sea of the Red and White Wearsider`s celebrating as they performed the ‘Poznan’ that City fans had adopted over the past few seasons.
Fabio Borni goal had given the underdogs a massive boost for the rest of the game, as they led the team that they have enjoyed success over a great deal over recent years. Sunderland enjoyed a good spell of possession after their goal while never really pressuring the City defence too much, the Blues then had a half chance when the returning Sergio Aguero to the City line-up, saw the Argentine striker run down the right wing before putting a cross into the box, where Samir Nasri took a touch but wasn`t then able to get a clean shot away as the keeper saved it. Predominantly all of the Sunderland`s attacks were concentrated towards the left side of the pitch where Martin Demichelis was being targeted by Gus Poyet`s side, as judging by the evidence of the game it was a correct assumption and was made more evident, when a throw in came in and saw Former City man Adam Johnson trick the defender with City defenders at panic stations at the back.
Sunderland then got away with a clear offside decision when Borini was adjudged onside while coming back from an offside position.  A flick on by his team mate just inside the City half put him through on goal and with Demichelis not wanting to run back and defence, it was up to Vincent Kompany as the Belgian defender chased down Borini and put in a fantastic last ditch tackle to see the ball out for a corner. Up to the half time break Sunderland had 62% share of the possession as City was outplayed in every department on the pitch with the North East side leading 1-0 into the break and were unlucky not to be ahead by more. 
Manuel Pellegrini obviously said something in his half time team talk as his side played a lot better. They started to get a foothold in the game but was still unable to break down the Sunderland defense as it was solid as a rock and City was finding it difficult to penetrate the Red and White shirted players. David Silva had a chance but his tame shot was saved easily by Iannone and Sunderland defensive play came to the fore yet again. Sung Yeung Ki for Sunderland then had a crack from distance and saw Pantilimon doing well to push it over the bar for a corner kick as the ball swerved coming towards him.
      Vincent Kompany delights in Yaya Toure`s Stunner  Pic:Yahoo
It felt like City needed some magic to help them get back into the game and so up stepped Yaya Toure to score one of the most memorable goals scored in a League Cup history. The Ivory Coast International midfielder took a pass from Pablo Zabaleta and the City Talisman stuck it first time from long range to see his effort dip and was hit with such power and accuracy that it found the smallest gap in the top far corner to see City level in the 54th minute.
That Incredible goal then kicked started City into gear now for this Cup final and a couple of minutes later, seen the game turn on it`s head with the Blues making it 2-1 through Samir Nasri goal.
City had countered a Sunderland attack and so when Aleksander Kolarov put a ball across the Sunderland penalty area it saw the incoming Samir Nasri to strike it first time with the outside of his right foot to curl it pass the Sunderland keeper and see Manchester City lead 2-1 in the contest. Sunderland having led for the majority of the Cup Final saw them then start to unravel after those two quick goals by a powerful City side. Demichelis was still being seen as the man to target for the Wearside club with them trying to find an equiliser in this cup tie and won a couple of fouls from the Argentine defender too. City had to deal with some very good corners by Ki, as the South Korea midfielder was putting real pressure on the City defenders with his set pieces kicks.
Samir Nasri wheels away after making it 2-1 Pic:TheGuardian   
Vincent Kompany saw his chance go wide from a Nasri corner as the City Captain swung a leg and saw it go harmlessly wide of the target as they looked to try and kill off the game with a third goal. With the time showing 89 minutes on the board, a tackle by Fernandinho outside his penalty area saw City break on a 5 on 2 counter and when Toure galloped forward with the ball, you felt a sense of inevitability about the end result. So when he passed across to his right for the speedy Jesus Navas to run on to, the Spaniard then side- footed home the third City goal to kill the game off and see them claim the Capital One Cup. 


This was the Chilian boss first trophy as a manager in European football and you wouldn`t bet against him adding another one too this season, as they have the slim hopes of targeting the Quadruple with the FA Cup, Premier League and Champions League still to aim for in the remainder of the season. Sunderland played their part in an enthralling Cup Final as not many people gave them a hope in the build up to the final and they more than matched City for a long time in the game until the moment of brilliance from Toure seen them lose their way for those crucial three minutes and saw them lose their way in the game after that.  




CUP FINAL HIGHLIGHTS : http://bcove.me/wm1axijj  (from Mcfc.tv)