AARON Nell is readying his Swindon Wildcats for a crucial period in their season, starting with tonight’s Autumn Trophy semi-final with Peterborough Phantoms.

This evening’s game is the first of two semi-finals, with the aggregate winner taking on either Basingstoke Bison or Hull Pirates to claim the trophy.

The first leg is at the Link Centre and Nell wants to make sure his troops make full use of home advantage before heading to Peterborough in a week’s time.

The last time the two teams met was Friday, December 29 and it was the Cats who came out on top in a narrow 5-4 win, something Nell believes could be a good omen for the home side.

“It’s a positive that we beat them in the last game,” he added. “It was the best game we played against them and we need to perform like that again. If we do, we will have a chance of winning.”

“Regardless, you want to win at home and that is the plan.

“We want to take leads into the second leg for both cups and we have to make sure we do that.

“We are entering the games in really good form.

“We are happy with where we are at the moment but we can always improve, which we are looking to do. We just can’t wait to get going.”

Despite a hectic schedule over the Christmas period, the Cats go into the game in a great run of form, with eight wins in their last nine games.

In addition to tonight’s semi-final, the Cats will contest a second semi on Saturday when they welcome London Raiders to the Link Centre in the National Cup, with the return in the capital 24 hours later.

With those and a double-header with Basingstoke Bison in the league to come, Nell says the next fortnight is an important phase of the season.

“The next two weeks are massive for us, we obviously have two lots of knockout games and two games against Basingstoke in the league,” added Nell, who also revealed that forward Chris Jones is nearing full fitness.

“It is as big as it gets. We are really looking forward to it and hopefully we can have a positive two weeks.

“Chris isn’t quite there yet, he is getting closer but he isn’t there. We all can’t wait for the games, these are the games we all want to play in and we are looking forward to it.”