THE Basingstoke Bison failed to close the gap on National Cup Group D leaders, the Swindon Wildcats, as they lost 3-1 to them on home ice.

It was the second loss this season that the Herd have suffered at the hands of their Wiltshire rivals and saw them slip to third in the group standings, after Telford won in Bracknell.

The Bison were minus Sam Brooks, Oscar Evans, Josh Smith, Paul Petts and Stuart Mogg, so only had eight forwards for this contest.

In an even opening, Swindon’s Chris Jones had the first chance of the game and then Dan Scott quickly replied for the home side.

The Wildcats opened the scoring at 11:28, as Jones scored with an excellent top corner strike on the powerplay.

A minute later, Swindon doubled the lead on the man advantage, as Jordan Kelsall scored, after Max Birbraer was lucky to escape a goalie interference penalty, after skating into the goal crease.

Soon after, Ivan Antonov had a great chance to open the Bison’s account on the breakaway, but Swindon man of the match Renny Marr made a superb stop.

The Wildcats then extended their lead to 3-0, as a lovely pass from Aaron Nell found Birbraer at the back post.

In the second session, the Herd did everything but score, as they out-shot the visitors 18-3, but the impressive Marr produced a string of great saves.

Scott, Antonov, Tomas Karpov, Aaron Connolly, Elliott Dewey and man of the match Roman Malinik were all denied, as Swindon still led 3-0 at the second buzzer.

They started the final 20 minutes killing off 83 seconds of a penalty on Kelsall.

As the period went on the visitors found themselves in even more penalty trouble, as Floyd Taylor was dismissed for boarding at 53:53.

The Herd looked to have given themselves a lifeline 23 seconds later, thanks to Dan Scott’s blue line blast.

However, despite being given a full two minutes of a two-man advantage at 56:11, they were unable to add to their tally, as the Swindon penalty killers did their job and Marr came up with the saves With two minutes left in the contest, the Bison pulled their netminder Dean Skinns in favour of the extra skater, but still could not find their way through a dogged Swindon defence.

The Bison will hope to bounce back to winning ways this evening, when they travel to the Milton Keynes Thunder for a league game.

The Thunder last night won at league leaders the Peterborough Phantoms.