AN impressive performance from a short-benched Wildcats team at the weekend led to a crucial victory against the high-flying Manchester Phoenix, writes George Royle.

Could this be the turning point of the Cats' season?

The large number of injuries meant that head coach Ryan Aldridge had to swap his suit for skates as he made his second appearance of the season.

Swindon found themselves a goal down midway through the first period as James Neil fired home for the visitors. The Cats responded just a few minutes later through Czech powerhouse, Tomas Fojtik, who scored his first goal in Wildcat colours from close range.

A quick goal from either side at the end of a great first period of hockey left the score tied at 2-2.

The second period was scrappy as both sides were desperate to grab the next goal. Swindon's Aaron Nell did just that with seven minutes left in the session, as he took the Phoenix netminder by surprise and slotted home from a tight angle.

Swindon and Manchester have played out several close encounters so far this season and this one was no different. Going into the final period, the Cats held a slender one-goal lead.

A tight third period finished with Swindon sealing the two points through a Jonas Hoog goal.

The 4-2 victory is a huge one for Swindon as they now enter a period of playing only one game a week.

This gives the team more of a chance to recover from injuries and go into games fresh.

With Nicky Watt sidelined, Michal Kapicka was provided with the opportunity to play on the first line with Nell and Jonas Hoog. He took to the new role impressively and played his best game of the season. The trio worked phenomenally well with each other and this is a combination we could see used again throughout the year.

There are still plenty of games left in the EPL season, and the Cats are currently 13 points adrift of league leaders Basingstoke.

It is a tough schedule heading into the festive break, but I think Swindon are starting to hit some form at the right time.

The Cats face Sheffield and Guildford in the near future and these games will be good indicators of the side's present state. WILDCATS defence man Paul Swindlehurst has been selected for the GB U20s squad who are set to travel to the Ukraine next month to take part in the World Championship (Division 1B).