Sheppard: Basingstoke Bison are title contenders

Basingstoke Gazette: Basingstoke Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard in action against the Telford Tigers. Basingstoke Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard in action against the Telford Tigers.

AFTER another weekend in which his side took maximum points, Basingstoke Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard has reiterated his belief that he has a team capable of maintaining a title challenge.

Victories over the Telford Tigers and Guildford Flames mean the Herd are just two points behind English Premier League leaders the Manchester Phoenix as the season approaches its halfway point.

Sheppard said: “I am really happy with the way it is all going. We have four games before the Christmas break and we just need to keep going.

“We will enjoy the break and then focus on the second half of the season. It has been a very good first half so far but we need to stay focused.

“The title is definitely a realistic aim. We are in there with a chance but there are lots of things that come in to play late on in the season.

“The key for us will be staying healthy and if we can do that then we will have a really good chance of winning the title.”

The Bison have two away games this weekend, travelling to face the Swindon Wildcats on Saturday before visiting the Slough Jets the following day.

“It’s not ideal to play two games away from home but it’s not a massive problem,” Sheppard added. “Our form is quite good on the road so we will be looking to keep that going.”

The Bison will have their sights set on another four-point weekend as both of the sides they face sit below them in the table – but Sheppard is taking nothing for granted.

“Swindon are capable of beating anyone,” he said. “They have got some very good players and I do not think that the table reflects just how good they are.

“Slough is a tough place to play at. It’s a small rink and they have had some good results in the last few weeks. We will have to be right on top of our game for that one.”

Sheppard remains on the lookout for a forward to replace Joe Miller, who will leave the Bison for Telford on January 1, but he is refusing to be rushed into a decision.

“I am talking to a few different players but we have not finalised anything yet,” the Bison boss explained. “We still have two weeks to find someone, so we’ll see what happens.”

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