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Basingstoke Bison set to sting Bees
THE new-look Basingstoke Bison will start their quest for the English Premier League title this weekend with a visit from local rivals Bracknell Bees before a trip to face the Manchester Phoenix.
There is a sense of expectation around the Herd this coming campaign after new player/coach Doug Sheppard spent the summer building a side which looks more than capable of winning silverware.
Last season, the Bison suffered disappointment as they finished sixth and missed out on the play-off finals.
That is all in the past and the Bison will be looking to start things off in the best possible fashion when arch-rivals Bracknell arrive on Saturday for a game which has a 6.30pm face-off.
A bumper crowd is expected and adding extra spice to the game is the fact that last year’s Bison players Sam Oakford, Marcel Petran and Ollie Bronnimann line-up for the Bees, while Carl Graham has swapped a Bracknell shirt for a Herd one.
Looking ahead to the campaign, Sheppard said: “I am very excited about the new season and we really want to win trophies for the Basingstoke fans. “Once again it is going to be a very competitive league as every team has improved during the summer.”
Talking about the league opener, Sheppard added: “It should be a great atmosphere against Bracknell as they are sure to bring a few fans. They may have lost both their pre-season games, but that counts for nothing and I am taking nothing for granted.”
Sheppard was forced to sit out Sunday’s 1-1 tie with Guildford with returning import Greg Chambers scored the opening goal for the Herd, before Jozef Kohut grabbed a third-period equaliser.
He is not going to rush himself back into the line-up, but after his side’s performance at the Spectrum things look very rosy.
On Sunday night (5.30pm), the Bison have a road trip to another one of the title favourites Manchester.
Sheppard said: “It will be a tough game in Manchester, but we will get another chance to see how we match up against one of the top teams.”
Ryan Sutton, Alec Field and Chris Beal who helped the Bison win the recent Oliveira Trophy will be in action on Sunday (6.30pm) as the Buffalo open their league campaign against visiting Chelmsford.