SWINDON staged a remarkable third-period comeback to defeat EPL leaders Basingstoke 5-3 at the Link Centre last night.
Ryan Aldridge’s troops trailed 3-2 going into the final period but utterly dominated the high-flyers in that 20 minutes, with a double from Aaron Nell and another goal from Sam Bullas seeing them take a memorable victory.
It was a far cry from the slow start that gave Swindon a mountain to climb in the early stages.
The visitors quickly took a two-goal lead with just over six minutes played, both of which the home defence might have felt they could done better with.
With Tomas Fojtik in the penalty box, Basingstoke went ahead on the powerplay at 4.03 as Greg Chambers fizzed the puck into the slot and Joe Rand tapped past Dean Skinns.
One became two at 6.15 with ex-Wildcats man Jaroslav Cesky profiting from the good work of Greg Owen and Joe Greener to net against his former employers.
The hosts had not tested netminder Stevie Lyle too much early on but at 16.07 Jonas Hoog beat him beautifully, diving inside from the right and sending his shot low into the net.
The Basingstoke response was swift with just over 90 seconds played before they once more opened up a two-goal lead, Doug Sheppard tucking away from Greener (17.48).
Late in the period Greener and Tony Redmond were both binned but Swindon were unable to capitalise, as Matias Perkkio scooped over and skipper Nell’s effort hit traffic.
The away side killed the remainder of the powerplay in the second period although Fojtik did his best to make it count by embarking on a one-man mission through the middle, which failed when his shot lacked power.
Wildcats brought themselves to within a goal once more at 26.09, as Perkkio sent the puck wide and charged towards goal, with Hoog sending it back in for the Finn to direct through Lyle’s legs.
The play then levelled out with Lyle’s brilliant low save from Perkkio the only moment of note for some time, although at the other end Skinns was called upon to make several solid saves.
A positive spell of pressure followed for Wildcats and it looked as if they would get heir reward when Hoog raced clear, but he could not find the net and went sprawling into the boards instead.
What followed in the third period was little short of remarkable, with the home side dominating the shellshocked league leaders.
Wildcats gave themselves renewed hope at 40.33 when Nell hustled down the right and bought himself some space before firing home at the near post.
Significant pressure continued to come and just over five minutes later Swindon were level, with Perkkio setting up Nell for his second of the period (45.40).
The home captain looked almost certain to get his hat-trick but he was brilliantly denied by Lyle on three occasions, with Bullas also going close.
The killer goal finally arrived at 52.40 with Bullas forcing home from close range, and Bison never threatened in the closing stages.