AARON Nell has labelled tonight’s Autumn Cup semi-final second leg tie against Peterborough Phantoms as the Swindon Wildcats' ‘biggest of the season’ ahead of face-off at the Link Centre.

Player-coach Nell, 29, has steered the Cats to only four losses from their opening 21 fixtures of the season. However, tonight’s clash against Slava Koulikov’s side carries more expectation and pressure than any of those previous games with a spot in the Autumn Cup final on the line.

Despite establishing an early two-goal advantage in the first leg at the Peterborough Arena a week ago, Swindon enter tonight’s fixture knowing only a two-goal win can guarantee the club’s spot in the final after the Phantoms netted four times following the Cats’ rampant start.

Trailing 4-3 on aggregate, Nell is under no illusions when it comes to Peterborough’s qualities on the ice.

“It’s going to be the biggest game of the season so far,” said Nell.

“It’s a game that all players will be looking forward to, and myself too as a coach.

“It’s one of those nights that players will remember, especially if we win. I’m sure it will be a great game.

“The crowd can make all of the difference. In the final of this competition last year, the fans were amazing. I know they enjoyed it and I’m sure it’s a night that everyone can remember.

“I thought Peterborough were excellent last week, it was the best game of hockey we’ve had this year.

“They were very good, they worked hard, and they’ve got a different team compared to last season – I believe they’re tougher to play against.

“It’s going to be a great test. The game is just as important for them as it is for us.”

The Phantoms will again be looking to the likes of Tom Norton, Glenn Billing and Martins Susters to build on their fragile lead, while Swindon have Edgars Bebris, Jan Kostal and Maxime Birbraer to rely on.

Injured pair Floyd Taylor and Adam Harding remain doubts, though, with Nell admitting both players and more than likely to miss tonight’s crunch tie.

Despite this, Nell will be looking for his side to adopt a positive approach to the contest.

He added: “Peterborough skate well and have good organisation.

"When they spot a time to apply pressure they will do it hard, and they do it together.

“Especially in the second period last Friday, they penned us in our end at times and it was tough for us.

“We were happy to leave with the result we got, and we need to learn from that.

“Being one goal behind makes it tight.

“We’ve got to skate positively and try to express ourselves. Working hard and playing together will be key.

“If we do that, we’re a good team. It will be an exciting game for sure.”