Don’t rule out Lightning, says coach Poole

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Coach Nick Poole is backing his MK Lightning side to turn around the three deficit they trail in the EPL Cup.

Basingstoke Bison were 4-1 winners in Coventry Skydome on Wednesday night after three second period goals put Lightning to the sword.

But with the second leg still to come down in Basingstoke next week, Poole believes his side can make up the gap.

“Over three periods of hockey, we win each one by a goal - it’s not impossible,” he said after the game. “We’ve scored three goals against them in one period before. But it’s certainly not the situation we’d have liked at half time, but I believe in the guys.

“But we’ve got no excuses on the night, they were the better team. We just have to make sure we’re the better team next Wednesday.”

Basingstoke took an early lead through Andrew Melachrino after 3mins 2secs, but Blaz Emersic restored parity for Lightning 90 seconds later.

But a series of penalties saw Lightning’s numbers reduced in the second period, and despite a string of stops from Stephen Wall, Bison eventually found a way through, with three quick-fire goals from Miroslav Vantroba, Melachrino again and Ciaran Long to open up a 4-1 lead.

And though Lightning had a lot of possession in the third, Poole felt they failed to get enough shots off.

“The guys worked hard and tried their best. In the first period, I felt Basingstoke had the edge early on, but we fought our way back into it and were the better team.

“But in the second period, they dominated and obviously came away with three goals. We ran into some penalty trouble, but that was because we were back on our heels.

“In the third, we picked things up a little bit, but didn’t have enough penetration and didn’t have enough scoring opportunities.

“But we’re three goals down - we’re not out of it. Stranger things have happened.”

And Poole admitted that playing in their home away from home in Coventry has been far from ideal this season. With the lack of practice opportunities, Lightning won’t be able to train together before the second leg of the final next week.

But the coach is still adamant not to use it as an excuse, and says Lightning are still in the hunt for the Cup.

He said: “With the lack of training, we’re probably not as fit as we’d like to be. And as the season wears on, we’ve got a lot of midweek games and it takes its toll.

“The guys have worked incredibly hard. Most teams get three or four more practice sessions than we do per week.

“Between now and next Wednesday, we won’t have a training sessions to improve things we want to. It puts a lot of onus on the guys to think the games through.

“It has been tough, but the season is not over and we’re still hunting for some silverware.”