SWINDON Wildcats player-coach Aaron Nell insists now is the time for his side to turn around their December fortunes if they are to keep their hopes of winning the NIHL South One title alive.

Nell’s troops have seen their title hopes severely dented this month following six losses in eight games - including two disappointing defeats to title rivals Bracknell Bees last weekend.

The Wildcats have consequently dropped to third in the league table, behind leaders Peterborough Phantoms and second-placed Bracknell, who have played one game more than the Link Centre outfit but are two points better off.

It is, however, Peterborough’s superior position of dropping just four points from their opening 20 league ties that has Nell concerned.

A home win against the Phantoms on Saturday is therefore crucial for the Wildcats if they are to remain in touch with the division’s runaway leaders.

Nell, whose side also travel to Basingstoke Bison tonight, said: “Our Peterborough games this year have been the best hockey so far.

“After Christmas we always seem to pick up, and hopefully we can continue to do that.

“Two good games over the weekend is part of our plan.

“Peterborough are a team that are in-form and they’re odds-on favourites to win the league right now.

“They have a team that everyone needs to beat, we’ve all got to beat them together to try and drag them back into the race.

“We need to try and do that at the weekend to turn things around.

“We had a great crowd last week, and I know the numbers for this weekend are looking good.

“Our performances haven’t been good over the past five home games.

“We want to make sure we’re playing the best we can at home to entertain our fans, who have been great for us over the years. Hopefully we can give them something to enjoy.”

Nell blamed the Cats’ lack of execution for their two defeats against Bracknell last weekend.

With no tie scheduled against division strugglers Milton Keynes Thunder and Invicta Dynamos until the new year, Nell senses an opportunity to turn around his side’s fortunes before time runs out.

He added: “We’ve had a bad few weeks, and we need to start turning things around.

“There is no better opportunity to do that than against the top teams.

“They will be two good games at the weekend, and they will be good to be a part of.

“Our execution wasn’t there for me, especially on Saturday.

“Our effort was there and the work rate was strong, but we’re holding onto our sticks right now and feeling a bit of pressure.

“We need to bounce out of that, and the easiest way to do that is by working hard and sticking together.

“If we do that, we will come out the other side. We know that we have got a good team, we just need to start getting the results that we can get when we perform at our best.”