SWINDON Wildcats player-coach Aaron Nell says his side could not have a tougher game this evening as they welcome Basingstoke Bison to the Link Centre.

The Cats suffered a damaging defeat away at London Raiders in NIHL South One during the week, going down on penalty shots after a 4-4 draw in the capital.

The loss leaves them third in the table, chasing the top two of Peterborough Phantoms and Basingstoke for league honours.

Bison have also been confirmed as Swindon’s final opponents in the Autumn Trophy, meaning the Cats will do battle with the Berkshire side a further two times this season.

With the Cats coming into tonight’s game on the back of a defeat and Bison still riding high from their Autumn Trophy semi-final win over Hull Pirates, Nell says his troops need to be alert from the opening buzzer to the last.

“We have just got to take it one game at a time until the end of the year, which starts on Saturday where we have to bounce back from what happened against Raiders,” he said.

“It’s huge that we get a reaction on Saturday. We haven’t lost two games in a row all season and we don’t want to start now.

“You couldn’t pick a tougher opponent on Saturday because Basingstoke are a very good side. It is going to be a great game and we have just got to be ready.

“When you get to this point in the season, no team is going to give you a night off. We saw that on Wednesday night and we need to get our heads down.

“Basingstoke had a good result and will smell blood, so we just need to make sure we are playing hard and competing from the get-go.”

Skipper Jan Kostal remains unavailable for Swindon this weekend but Nell hopes he is fit to return to action quicker than anticipated after missing the trip to Raiders because of injury.

After undergoing series of scans, Nell is optimistic Kostal could return as early as next week.

“Jan has had his scan and I don’t think it is as bad as we first thought,” added Nell.

“He won’t be playing for us this weekend, but we are hoping that he could be back for the game at home to Telford on Valentines Day, but I’m not sure yet.”