J DAVIDSON sponsored Manchester Phoenix lost 3-2 in Bracknell in the Play off quarter final first leg.
Phoenix were without Liam Chong and Jack Watkins and added Jared Dickinson to the roster.
Bees were missing Ollie Bronniman, Chris Wiggins and a couple of under 18 youngsters who were on GB duty.
The first period was a tight affair with both teams being very cautious.
Neither netminder was severely tested and the period ended without a goal and only 11 shots between the two sides.
The second opened up with a shock for the home side.
With 2.35 gone in the period Richard Bentham sent the puck goalwards from his own zone and it looked an easy take for Alex Mettam in the Bees goal.
As he went to play the puck with his stick he diverted it from outside the post into the net to give Phoenix the lead.
Joe Graham was awarded an assist on the goal.
Bracknell upped the pressure after the goal and scored on 29.39.
Scott Spearing hit the puck high over Stephen Fone’s left shoulder for the equaliser.
Thirty seconds later the visitors restored their lead with a neat goal from Robin Kovar.
Good work from Luke Boothroyd and Andrew McKinney earned them assists on the goal. Phoenix were under a bit of pressure and two goals in just over a minute near the end of the period gave the Bees a 3-2 second interval lead.
Firstly Jan Bendik hit a shot from the left circle, again over Fone’s left shoulder, to make it 2-2 and a minute later Scott Spearing scored his second and Bees’ third when he was left all alone in front of the net.
Bees had the better of the first five minutes of the third period but then Phoenix took control and only some great netminding by Alex Mettam kept the visiting forwards at bay.
Scott Spearing was up to his usual tricks with 10 minutes remaining as he tried to goad Robert Schnabel into a scrap.
Schnabel was amazed when he was given the same penalty as Spearing and both went to the box for 2 minutes.
Phoenix finished the game on the offensive but were unable to find the equaliser and a finely balanced tie moves to Altrincham on Sunday with the Bees having a one goal advantage.
Coach Hand said after the game: “It was always going to be a close affair. We set out to keep it tight and bring the match back to our own rink where we have been great all season.
"We achieved our objective and with the help of the best fans in the league we are confident of turning the tie around.”
Face off at the Ice Dome is 1730hrs.