AARON Nell concedes challenging on multiple fronts may have had a detrimental effect on Swindon Wildcats’ NIHL South One fortunes but is determined that a promising campaign yields a tangible reward from the business end of the season.

The Wildcats host Telford Tigers in the first leg of the NIHL Cup semi-final at the Link Centre this evening (7.30pm) hoping to secure an advantage to take to Shropshire for the second instalment next Tuesday.

Swindon head into the encounter off the back of three straight league defeats that have probably ended their hopes of a top-two finish in NIHL South One but, having also reached the final of the Autumn Cup, their bid for silverware this season remains very much alive.

Telford are top of the parallel North One division but in six previous meetings in the 2017-18 campaign, the Wildcats have lost just once and Nell wants his side to take a significant step towards the final in front of their own supporters.

“It’s going to be a good game and a great atmosphere,’’ he said.

“We’ve played Telford a lot this season and they have always been close games. We’ve got to go and try and get a win in that first game and take a lead back to Telford for the second leg.

“We would have loved to have stayed in the hunt for the league a bit longer but it was always going to be difficult fighting for the three trophies. The success we’ve had in the cups was eventually going to catch up with us anyway.

“But it’s exciting times. There’s another semi-final coming up now and hopefully if we come through that we’ll have two big finals to look forward to in March.’’ Swindon already have experience of two-legged cup assignments this term after reaching the Autumn Cup final after two showdowns with Peterborough Phantoms, although they did it the hard way by winning on the road after drawing the opening home leg.

Nell is seeking an early advantage this time and added: “That’s what you want to do. Obviously we played Peterborough last month and it didn’t work out that way. It never quite goes to plan.

“We’re looking forward to it. Sometimes you have a bad week like we’ve had but it’s nice to be playing again pretty soon.

“We’ve got something to push to and a game like the one against Telford is going to be our biggest game of the season so far.’’ Swindon are still waiting on the fitness of skipper Jan Kostal, who missed the last three matches due to injury but have a clean bill of health otherwise.

“Jan was out all week. We’re not sure if he’s going to be back on Wednesday night. We’re hoping but we’re not sure at this stage,’’ added Nell.

“Everyone else is fine and it’s just getting ready for it now.’’