Coach stands by struggling Sheffield Steeldogs

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Under-strength Sheffield Steeldogs are continuing to struggle in the English Premier League - but there is no criticism of them from their coach.

Last weekend, they lost 5-3 at Basingstoke Bison and 4-2 at home to Swindon Wildcats.

Steeldogs had made the trip to Basingstoke with only seven forwards available.

Coach Greg Wood missed out through injury, joining Donatas Kumeliauskas, Callum Pattison and Cam Brownley on the unavailable list.

Despite limited resources, theSteeldogs made a strong start and competed well but Vanya Antonov beat James Hadfield at 13:10 and he was on the mark again at 15:54 to put Basingstoke in control.

Sheffield kept rolling and late on in the middle period Arnoldas Bosas made the pressure count, notching a delayed penalty goal.

But before it had even been announced, Ciaran Long celebrated his 500th EPL appearance by restoring the two goal lead for the Bison.

Karpov extended the advantage to 4-1 early in the third – despite the referee initially not giving the goal. Rand added another late on but a resilient Steeldogs played to the final whistle with Kirk and Heywood each getting goals late on.

Sunday saw the welcome return of Kumeliauskas to the Dogs line-up and the Lithuanian international fired the puck past Stevie Lyle on his first shift of the night.

well worked power play saw Jan Kostal level the scores and Sheffield should have re-taken the lead but on two occasions they created clear cut chances against Lyle but failed to convert.

A Tim Smith shot from the blue at 21:16 sneaked through everyone and gave the home side a lead they held on to for 10 minutes. Two quick fire goals from Swindon put the Steeldogs on the back foot but they remained a force in the game, keeping Lyle on his toes.

Jonas Hoog scored number four for the Wildcats and effectively killed off the Dogs challenge as Swindon’s strong lines controlled the puck and the result.

Coach Wood said after the Sunday game: “The effort level from the boys was fantastic. For the first two periods we were very, very good although we tired a little in the third. The game should have been out of reach after the first period where I think we had three or four really good chances that we didn’t take.

"But as we have seen, if you don’t take them, you get punished. We did fall off in the third but we have played with six guys on the road last night and had a long trip back.

“Tonight has been a tough one to take. It’s a frustrating situation, a couple of individual errors - we were weak on a couple of their goals. When you create the chances that we did, it’s hard to be mad at guys.

"The interlinking play was good, the play in the defensive zone was good but it doesn’t make it easier when you don’t get the result.

“Hull come to Sheffield on Sunday and we are looking forward to that one.

"We haven’t been blown out of the water by them and our last game was really close, on a knife edge and it could have gone either way.

"There’s always a time to snap their winning streak and it could be next week. The guys will come out fighting - we are due a good result”.