PLAYER-COACH Aaron Nell says Peterborough will be the happier of the two teams, as the Swindon Wildcats registered a 3-3 draw at the Link Centre in the opening leg of their Autumn Trophy semi-final.

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

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 through Nathan Salem.

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 notched.

After the restart Phantoms extended their lead to two goals when Owen Griffiths found the back of the net before Nell and Jones brought the game back to 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.

Ultimately Nell believes the visitors will feel more confident going into the second leg next Thursday, but believes there is every chance his side can progress to the final.

"Chris was back earlier than expected, we knew that on Tuesday because he practiced and felt really good afterwards, so we are delighted to have him back because he is one of our top guys, especially offensively, " said Nell.

"He helped us up massively and scored a great goal for us.

"I'm not sure what to make of the score, if we lose next week then it is a missed opportunity, if we win, then it isn't.

"It's the biggest cliche ever, but we are halfway through a game which lasts 120 minutes.

"We haven't won up in Peterborough for a long time and we are going to have to do that if we are going to qualify.

"Of course we wanted to take a lead into next week, but they're a good team and we are a good team so it is set up nicely for next week."

At one stage in the game the Cats trailed by two goals, before levelling proceedings before the final instalment.

Nell, who notched during the comeback, says it was a big moment in the game.

"It was really important we got back level. We were in a really tough spot there but we never quit," he added.

"We were great in the first period but didn't quite get the bounces, being 3-1 down and tying the game we are happy.

"They played well in the third, defensively and we never really got inside as we would have liked to.

"We have to give them credit, they will be delighted with a tie tonight."