Wokingham Today


- By TOM CROCKER tcrocker@wokinghamp­aper.co.uk

SCOTT SPEARING says he is preparing for “a war in the play-offs” as the knockout competitio­n gets underway this weekend.

Bees’ regular season came to an end with a 6-4 defeat to Swindon Wildcats at the weekend, which left them fifth in the table.

That sets up a two-legged clash with fourth-placed London Raiders this weekend in the NIHL play-off quarter-finals with the first game at The Hive on Saturday (6pm) before the return leg on Sunday (5.15pm).

And player-coach Spearing is looking forward to wiping the slate clean after a below par league campaign, where Bees finished 22 points behind eventual champions Basingstok­e Bison.

“To be fair, I’m very disappoint­ed with where we finished in the league,” Spearing told The Wokingham Paper.

“We haven’t reached our potential this year, without any shadow of a doubt.

“I aim to try and rectify that as much as I possibly can in the play-offs but we had a few issues during the season.

“Three of our main players were out. Frankie (Bakrlik) with his suspension then Thommo (Shaun Thompson) was out for five or six weeks and I was out for another five or six weeks.

“Three key players on our team to be out for that long, it’s a line of forwards which has a huge effect, especially in the league we’re playing in at the moment.”

He added: “My target for the playoffs is to go as far as we possibly can and play to our full potential.

“If we play to our full potential, we can beat any team in the league.

“That’s what I’m expecting and just everyone buying into the same mindset and push all the way to the end.

“We just need to show that we’re going to fight for the full 60 minutes because it’s play-offs and really anything can happen.”

One man Bracknell will be without is Bakrlik.

The Czech forward and top scorer in the league is currently serving an 18-match suspension for a repeat offence of checking to the head last month.

And Spearing says he found the decision hard to take.

“From the angle I saw the hit, I was very disappoint­ed in the call that the referee gave,” he said.

“I understand that referees can’t always see exactly what happened, but at that point if you don’t see what happened and your linesman can’t give you a definite answer on what happened then they should not be calling any penalty or a lower penalty.

“It certainly shouldn’t have been a check to the head in my opinion.

“I’m disappoint­ed with the refereeing as a whole this year.

“I think the first match ban that Frank got was far too severe and then certainly this one.

“It’s very frustratin­g but you just have to do the best with what you can.

“Right now we haven’t got Frank, but on the plus side we’re still a good team and we’ve shown that we can compete with everyone and that’s what we have to do.

“I’ve got full confidence in the team.”

The first hurdle is London Raiders. Bees have a good record against them this season with three wins from four, including a

6-1 success at The Hive earlier this month.

And Spearing says his side should control the contest.

“If we hadn’t had our run where we played as bad as we did and we played even half as good as we can, we would’ve been far above them and still fighting for second spot,” he said.

“We are a better team.

“We just have to play with the confidence we showed last weekend because when we play with that confidence we dominate those teams. It just shows what we can do when we stick to the gameplan.

“I’m not expecting it to be put to bed in the home game because it’s play-offs.

“It’s going to be a tough one and no matter what team you play against, whether it be Basingstok­e or Invicta, everybody is there to battle and it is a war in the play-offs.

“That’s exactly what I’m expecting. I’m also expecting my whole team to be ready to go into it.”

For more Bees news, see The Sports Paper inside.

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