THE Basingstoke Bison split their play-off series with the Sheffield Steeldogs, winning away on Saturday night 2-1, before losing at home 4-2 on Sunday, writes Graham Merry.

The first game in Sheffield saw the home side rack up 50 shots on Bison man of the match Alex Mettam, but they could only beat him once from Alex Graham at 26:33.

The Herd won the game thanks to a final period brace from Alex Roberts.

On Sunday night in the return in Basingstoke, the first 25 minutes proved a real feisty affair.

The tone was set in the opening minute as the Bison’s Liam Morris caught Alex Graham in the face with his stick. Jack Bramner took revenge first spearing Morris in the chest and then doing the same to Jay King sending him crashing into the net. All of which went unpunished.

The Bison already minus Adam Jones, Adam Harding and Cain Russell, lost another player as Ollie Stone limped off after blocking a shot in the sixth minute.

The Steeldogs took the lead a minute later, thanks to a simple tap in for Matt Bissonnette.

The Bison equalised as Roberts with a clever side step went past a Sheffield player which gave himself the space to rifle home at 13:27.

Early in the second session, Sam Towner crashed into netminder Mettam, which saw him jumped on by a couple of Bison players.

Then an awful hit by Andreas Valdix sent King crashing into the boards by the Bison bench. This drew no penalty, but did spark a crowd, with a few punches thrown by both sides.

Soon after, the Steeldogs were given a two man advantage and just as the penalties ran out Bissonnette tapped in at the back post. With Sheffield now ahead 2-1 the game calmed down.

Just 71 seconds in the final period, Sheffield extended their lead after Lee Bonner’s shot flew into the net, hit the back bar and came straight back out.

The Bison reduced the lead to one at 44:32, as Ashley Tait’s left wing shot was deflected in by man of the match Roberts.

The goal lifted the home side and they went in search of an equaliser with George Norcliffe, Roberts and Zack Milton all going close.

However, their hopes were dashed as in the final two minutes, Bonner netted his second of the game.