Phoenix on course for Knockout Cup semis
MANCHESTER Phoenix have one foot in the British Knockout Cup semi finals after a convincing 4-0 win at home to Hull Stingrays in the first leg.
Despite the goals it was the performance of goaltender Stephen Murphy that undid Hull with the un-flappable Scot claiming a second successive shut-out by repelling everything the Stingrays threw at him.
Captain Kenton Smith opened the scoring in the 18th minute on a power play before Brett Clouthier doubled the lead in the 36th and late goals from Tony Hand and Kyle Bruce wrapped up the win.
The fixture had been rearranged to accommodate Phoenix's Challenge Cup semi-final against Basingstoke and meant change of tactics with the home leg being played first.
"Most coaches would prefer the home leg second so we had to change the game plan," said Hand. "But things worked out OK and now we can go to Hull with a healthy lead."
The scoreline flattered Manchester with Hull more than holding their own despite missing defenders Stuart Kerr and Paul Moran, as well as forward Janie Thompson through injury.
And while head coach Rick Strachan was frustrated with the defeat he insisted his side could still progress in the competition, he said: "It was a disappointing result.
"They do have a big lead but I have seen stranger things happen. They have a Challenge Cup semi-final the following night so they may have their minds on that, who knows?"