Whitfield calls for focus ahead of Bees test
Updated 3:16pm Friday 14th February 2014 in By Michael Reeves, Deputy sports editor
WITH only five points separating the Wildcats and basement side Peterborough Phantoms, Swindon-product Stevie Whitfield is warning against complacency – starting with tomorrow night’s visit of Bracknell Bees (5.45pm).
With 13 games of the EPL campaign remaining, the academy product knows that The Link Centre side must maintain their impressive home form to ensure that they keep their place in the play-offs.
And a win over the Bees would see Swindon increase their lead over the eighth-placed side to five points.
The 23-year-old defenceman has established himself in Ryan Aldridge’s side and says that the standard of the league is improving year-on-year.
“A few years ago you could say that there would be three or four contenders who would finish in the bottom two,” Whitfield said.
“But it is not like that now the league is so tight, the standard has improved over the years.
“The British guys are getting stronger and the imports coming over are getting better.”
And while Swindon are deep in the battle of the mini-league of the teams in fourth to eighth place, Whitfield insists that the Wildcats must keep fighting for every point.
“I’m pretty sure that we will make the play-offs,” he said. “But you only have to go on a bit of bad run and then you could find ourselves in the bottom two.
“You can’t think like that though. You need to be focused and remain positive - we need to get the win over Bracknell.”
The Wildcats have faced the Bees three times already this term and have secured a 2-1 EPL Cup success in October, as well as two 6-3 league victories last month.
But despite their 3-0 record over Bracknell, Whitfield knows that the visitors will make life tough for them.
“They are a physical side,” he said. “They make it hard for the opposition with their approach to the game.
“That is something we have to make sure that we adapt to because I don’t feel that is our natural game.
“Bracknell have got a few good young players, but we have the ability to ensure that we beat them again.”
Since establishing himself in the Wildcats’ EPL side, Whitfield says that he has been learning a great deal from the club’s overseas players.
“Jan Kostal has been great for me,” the defender added. “Just looking at how he approaches the game and prepares has taught me a lot.
“He has played for the Czech Republic and you can see the quality that he has and how hard he works.”
With the likes of Kostal and Great Britain internationals Stevie Lyle and Aaron Nell at the club, Whitfield, who has been with the club since under 10 level, can continue his rapid rise through the ranks.