Battle to win over club’s fans

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STEELERS’ first-year forward Lee Esders knows his side face more than just a battle to win games, over the next few weeks.

They also face a challenge to ease their way back into the affections of some supporters following last Sunday’s embarrassing flop at home to Nottingham Panthers.

Esders, who joined the club in the Summer after Rob Dowd defected to Belfast Giants, felt the pain of his side being hustled into submission by Panthers every bit as much as some of the club’s veterans.

The former Hull Stingrays right winger said: “We know we were outworked in that game; we came out flat and at two goals down it was tough to re-group.

“We’ve had all week to think about what went wrong and I know it will all be about getting back to playing simple hockey.

“I think we tried too much against Nottingham, we were holding on to the puck too long.”

Steelers get the chance of revenge when they play the Challenge cup second leg at Nottingham on Saturday, before hosting Cardiff Devils the following day at iceSheffield - a venue that’s only been sold out twice for hockey games.

“We want to win games like this and we know we have to win the fans over,” said Esders. “We were beaten, but it is a long season. We will come back.”

Coach Ryan Finnerty knows Brits like Esders, Tom Squires and Warren Tait have to step up to the mark while skipper Jonathan Phillips remains a long-term injury victim.