SWINDON Wildcats were unable to make the most of home advantage as they drew 3-3 with Peterborough Phantoms in their Autumn Trophy semi-final opening leg.

The Wildcats called upon the services of youngster Toms Rutkis for their semi-final, while Chris Jones warmed-up with his teammates for the first time since breaking his hand in early December and also featured.

Upon his return, the teenager was the first player to get a real sight of goal as he managed to hit the upright in the opening 20 minutes.

It was a tight affair, but the visitors were the side who landed the first blow with a powerplay goal in the 11th minute of the game.

Max Birbraer was handed a two-minute penalty for tripping, before Nathan Salem put his side ahead with a tidy finish from the left.

The Cats drew level towards the end of the first instalment through Floyd Taylor, as he capped off a superb solo run with a neat finish at the near post 18 minutes in.

Less than a minute later, and 21 seconds before the interval, the Phantoms were back in front as Darius Pliskauskas restored their advantage.

Shortly after the restart Phantoms extended their lead to two goals when Owen Griffiths poked the puck past Renny Marr in the home goal.

After the third goal the game began to open up at the Link Centre, and ultimately allowed the Cats to register for the second time.

Nell surged forward with the puck as he led a breakaway for the home side, he then played a neat one-two with Phil Hill, before applying the finish just before the half-hour mark.

The hosts had all the momentum after their second goal and were able to restore parity before the break as Jones signed off a patient move between Nell and Max Birbraer to make it 3-3.

With it all to play for in the third, the Cats may feel as if they missed their opportunity to take a lead into the second leg, as they were unable to convert a sustained spell of pressure, as the game finished 3-3.