THE Basingstoke Bison will lock horns with title rivals the Manchester Phoenix on Saturday night, in what is sure to be a cracker of a contest at the Basingstoke Arena.

The action gets underway at 6.30pm, with the Herd looking to continue on from their excellent performance, which saw them beat the Sheffield Steeldogs 5-4 after penalty shoot-out last Sunday.

So far this season honours are even between these sides, with the home side coming out on top each time, which is a sequence the Herd will be hoping to continue.

Manchester have not lost for over a month and have drafted in former Bison import forward Jaroslav Cesky, to replace the injured Frankie Bakrlik.

The Czech forward was recently released by Peterborough and comes in as short term cover.

Bison player/coach Doug Sheppard said: “It is a pretty big game facing Manchester and I want us to continue to play with energy and intensity as we showed against Sheffield.

“We know Manchester are a good team and they have a lot of players who can put the puck in the net, so we have to make sure we play a strong defensive game.”

The Herd are hopeful that injured pair Canadian import Joe Rand and top British defenceman Kurt Reynolds will be back in their line-up.

On Sunday night, the Bison travel north to face the Telford Tigers, who have been busy in recent weeks, adding a lot of new firepower to their line-up including the Bison’s Joe Miller.

He will make his home debut against his former team mates which is sure to add extra spice to the game.

The Tigers have started to roar of late and despite the Bison leading the series 4-0, this will count for nothing when they arrive in Shropshire on Sunday.

Looking ahead to the game Sheppard said: “They certainly gave us a difficult game before they added all their new players. So we know we will have our hands full.

“We know what Joe (Miller) is capable of and we will try to play him pretty tight and it will be strange playing against him.”