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Bracknell Bees 4 Hull Pirates 3: Great Scott! Late Spearing strike settles basement battle clash

Bees v Hull Feb  pic R Swann
Scott Spearing will continue as player assistant coach

SCOTT SPEARING fired Bracknell Bees to a dramatic victory over Hull Pirates at the Hive on Sunday night.

The forward struck twice, including a late winner, on an evening where the hosts twice overcame deficits to secure a comeback triumph over their fellow strugglers.

James Galazzi and Carl Thompson were also on target for a Bracknell side who moved to within a point of the Pirates at the foot of the table with what was just a third victory in 27 games.

“It is always good to come back from a deficit, but a win is a win and it is great however it comes,” said match winner Spearing.

“It was nice to help the team out with goals as well as the other things that my role requires and it has been a while, but it is a positive weekend.

“We played really well yesterday (against Peterborough Phantoms), and I thought we should really have come out with two points, but things did not go our way as such, but we got the lift tonight, which is nice.”

There was little to separate the two sides during the early exchanges, although a coming together of James Galazzi and Hull’s Dominic Osman saw the pair having to sit out minors for roughing and an elbow charge respectively.

Neither team was able to capitalise on the four v four, but when Bees’ Carl Graham was binned for delaying the game, the visitors seized the initiative.

The power play was just seconds old when Jamie Chilcott latched on to a loose puck from a face-off and fired home from some distance, with Sam Towner recording the assist.

Bracknell, however, refused to let their heads drop and came roaring back into the contest just three minutes later, taking advantage themselves of the opposition losing both Tom Stubley and Osman for slashing and illegal equipment offences respectively.

It was a tidy equaliser too. Player-coach Lukas Smital sprayed the puck out to captain Matt Foord on the left wing who, in turn, squared for Spearing to open his account for the evening with a first-time finish into the corner.

The frame of the goal would deny Bracknell nudging themselves in front late in the opening period when presented with another power play.

James Hutchinson, told to sit out two minutes for holding, could only watch on as a trademark Jan Bendik drive clanged back off a post.

A scramble ensued as the puck broke loose, but the Pirates somehow manged to keep the hosts at bay on this occasion – and then almost regained the lead when Pasi Salonen charged up the other end, only to see his attempt at goal turned away by Alex Mettam.

It was one of several important saves the Bees netminder was to produce on the night.

The second go-ahead goal, however, was to arrive just 30 seconds after the interval, and it was netted by another player to have recently rekindled the scoring touch.

Finishing off a move set up by Josh Smith and Alex Barker at the far post was James Galazzi, who followed up a recent brace of goals against Swindon Wildcats with another clinical finish.

Alex Mettam denies Pasi Salonen - one of several vital saves made by the netminder (Picture: Bob Swann)
Alex Mettam denies Pasi Salonen – one of several vital saves made by the netminder (Picture: Bob Swann)

Smital was wide with another chance soon after, but a succession of penalties conceded by Lewis Turner and Hull’s Jordan Fisher (both delay of game), who were joined in the bin moments later by Hutchinson (hooking) left the hosts in a four on three situation.

But instead of trying to make the most of the numerical advantage, Bracknell found themselves pegged back on 28.04 when a sweeping moved finished off by Sam Towner saw Hull equalise via a short-handed goal.

And just 52 seconds later the Humberside outfit had completed a remarkable turnaround.

A quick-fire counter left Osman with only Mettam to beat. The netminder once again did well to stop the initial effort, but was unable to keep out the rebound, which the forward poked home for a 3-2 lead.

Both teams would fall into penalty trouble as the stanza neared a close, but the one goal would continue to separate the strugglers as the contest headed into the final 20 minutes.

Another surge from Salonen almost yielded a fourth for the Pirates, but in trying to nudge the puck across Mettam, the player could only skim the outside of an upright.

It was another let off for the hosts, but they refused to fold.

Not long after showing great close control to get away from an opponent and lay on a chance for Barker, who could only turn the opportunity wide, Thompson had the scores tied up once more.

It was a goal which came out of nowhere. Food and Galazzi had done well to work the puck out to the right wing, but the angle was tight – but not tight enough – with the forward doing well to drive his shot across Marting Raitums in the Hull goal and into the opposite corner.

The effort would arrive on 53 minutes, but the game’s turning point would arrive soon after.

A cheap slash on Galazzi proved to be one offence too many for Osman, who was promptly thrown out by the referee.

The player was initially hit with a five-plus game penalty, but this was later upgraded to a match ban, believed to be for some choice words with the officials.

This left Bees finishing the game on the power play, and they needed no second invitation.

A sight of goal prompted Smital to let fly from distance. Raitums did well to get something behind the strike, but could only divert it into the path of Spearing, who buried the rebound and settled the contest with his fourth goal in six games.

Hull responded by pulling the netminder for an extra skater, but it almost proved to be a costly call as Smital stole in and raced towards an empty net.

Under pressure, however, and still some way out, the Czech was off target with his strike – not that it would have any significance on the final outcome, though.

Bees can now head into Wednesday’s local derby at fierce rivals Guildford Flames knowing victory – or even picking up a point – can pull them off the foot of the EPIHL standings.

“It only takes one shift to change a whole season,” added Spearing.

“It can just change on a dime, but hopefully it is just more of a positive outlook and we can take it through to Wednesday against Guildford and see how we get on.”

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