Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stars Upbeat on Cup Clash

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Stars Upbeat on Cup Clash

Article excerpt


BILLINGHAM Stars will look to take the huge confidence boost they got from taking a point from last Sunday's game against Sheffield Steeldogs into tomorrow's National Cup Group A match clash with Blackburn Hawks at the Forum.

Blackburn have thus far confounded their pre-season odds to sit second in both the League and Cup competitions, but they have needed a little good fortune to stay there.

Last weekend saw defeats at the hands of Solway Sharks and runaway leaders Telford Tigers, the latter an 8-2 thrashing on home ice. However this was overturned during the week and awarded to the Hawks as a 5-0 win due to Telford breaking the rules of competition regarding bench coaches.

Blackburn have been putting up some excellent results prior to this however, so their second place showing is not undeserved.

A team that looked on paper as though it would base tactics around a solid defensive core, it is up front where the Lancastrians are showing the way and are currently top scorers in the league. Although they have a couple of leading lights in long-time danger man Richard Bentham and rising star Kieran Brown, there are players picking up points throughout the squad and as such Billingham cannot afford to take a shift off tomorrow.

The Ultimate Windows-sponsored Stars' losing streak continued with the overtime defeat by Sheffield last weekend. However the close nature of what many expected to be a more comprehensive victory for the former English Premier League outfit has given the squad a shot in the arm and the belief that an elusive first win in 13 games cannot be far away.

The three games played against old rivals Blackburn so far have gone the way of the Hawks but all by the slimmest of margins.

Billingham will hope the tide is beginning to turn and they can give their home crowd a victory to celebrate come the final buzzer. …

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