THE Basingstoke Bison moved four points clear at the top of the English Premier League, after they beat their visiting title rivals the Manchester Phoenix 5-1 on Saturday night.

In a superb contest, Herd netminder Dean Skinns produced one of the saves of season to deny Tony Hand a certain goal at the back post early on.

The Bison then took control of the contest, thanks to two markers in the space of 16 seconds, as Joe Greener put away Nicky Chinn’s rebound and then Andy Melachrino fired home.

Manchester started the second session with a couple of chances, but a brilliant breakout from Tomas Karpov saw him leave man-of-the-match Melachrino with an easy tap in to make it 3-0 at 24:11.

The Herd then scored twice in the space of 28 seconds as Chinn started a move and finished it and then Karpov scored with a great breakaway strike.

At this point, Manchester called a time-out, but soon after, had a six minute powerplay to kill.

This was after Andrew McKinney decked a Bison player in the slot and received two minutes for holding and four for roughing.

The Bison piled on the pressure and Steve Fone made a number of good saves, until home forward Joe Rand departed to the sin bin, which gave the teams two minutes of four-on-four play.

During this time the Phoenix got their only goal of the contest from Frankie Bakrlik. In the final minute of the second period, Bison’s Ciaran Long robbed giant defenceman Robert Schnabel, but Fone made a smart stop.

With Manchester’s powerful offence there was still a chance with 20 minutes left they could pull things around, but the home side made sure they had few clear cut chances.

Their best of the final session came from Michal Psurny, as he cut in from the left wing, but Skinns was equal to the shot.

The Phoenix then escaped a two many imports penalty for the second time in the game.

As the contest came to a close former Bison forward Jacob Corson-Heron had a good chance, but Skinns denied him.

The Bison have no game today, so they are next in action on Saturday when they entertain the Slough Jets (face-off 6.30pm).