BASINGSTOKE’S ice hockey and football teams will be looking to end this year on a positive note and start 2013 with a bang as they prepare for vital fixtures.
English Premier League leaders Basingstoke Bison face two tricky away games, travelling to Milton Keynes Lightning on Saturday (face-off 7pm) before starting 2013 with a trip to the Swindon Wildcats on Wednesday (7.45pm).
Meanwhile, Basingstoke Town will be looking to move away from the bottom of the Blue Square Bet South. They travel to Hayes and Yeading United on Saturday (kick-off 3pm), before hosting Farnborough in a Hampshire derby at the Camrose on New Year’s Day (3pm).
Basingstoke Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard knows the Lightning will be give his side a big test as they have title aspirations of their own.
When the sides last met in MK the home side won 2-1 after a penalty shoot-out, but since that game the Bison have added Jaroslav Cesky to their line-up and the Lightning also have a new import in Kamil Tudek.
Herd supremo Sheppard is expecting another tight game and said: “They have always been a very good defensive side so we will have to make sure we capitalise on our chances.
“I have watched some tapes of their new import and he looks very good. That is a line we will have to stop if we are going to win.”
The Bison are then on their travels four days later, hoping to repeat the success they had last time in Swindon’s home at the Link Centre.
It will see the Herd come up against their former import defenceman Tomas Fojtik for the first time since he was released by the team at the beginning of November.
Again Sheppard is taking nothing for granted and said: “They beat us at home so we know what they are capable of. We are in a good position in the league at the moment, but we know we will have to keep working hard to make sure we stay there.”
Basingstoke Town manager Jason Bristow is keen for his side to start 2013 with a victory over Farnborough in front of what is expected to be a bumper crowd.
“It would be great to start the New Year with a win and then build from there,” he said. “We have got to start winning games and go on a run.
“It’s a local derby and the sort of game that players look forward to being a part of. Hopefully a good number of people will come out for the game and we can put on a good performance for them.
“Farnborough are in and around the play-off places. They are an efficient side who are getting results so it will be tough but hopefully we can match them.”
Before that game, Town travel to Woking’s Kingfield Stadium to take on a Hayes and Yeading side who impressed when coming from behind to claim a 2-2 draw at the Camrose earlier in the season.
Bristow said: “I thought they were the best passing side we have played. They have a good pitch to play on at Woking so it will be difficult but they have had a few indifferent results so it’s hard to know what is going to happen.
“They look to play out from the back and do get caught at times, so it’s important that we press and stop them playing through the midfield.”