EPL: The road is only way to recovery for Sheffield Steeldogs | Hull Pirates look to close gap on Lightning

FAMILIAR FACE: Defenceman Martin Ondrej, pictured in his Hull Stingrays' days, is back in East Yorkshire with Hull Pirates. Picture: Arthur Foster.

FAMILIAR FACE: Defenceman Martin Ondrej, pictured in his Hull Stingrays' days, is back in East Yorkshire with Hull Pirates. Picture: Arthur Foster.

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SHEFFIELD STEELDOGS hit the road in their bid to end an alarming run of seven straight defeats.

Player-coach Greg Wood’s side have lost touch with the top half of the table in the English Premier League, their latest setback coming in Wednesday night’s 6-3 reverse at home to leaders Telford Tigers.

It gets no easier as on Saturday night Sheffield head to second-placed Milton Keynes Lightning, who will be desperate to reduce the eight-point gap on Telford, who travel to Swindon Wildcats.

The frustration for Wood and his players from Wednesday will that they were level with the visitors with just over five minutes remaining, after which they conceded three unanswered goals.

Three previous meetings against Milton Keynes have only brought defeat for the Steeldogs, including a 4-3 reverse when they visited MK Arena on October 29.

The Steeldogs remain on the road on Sunday when they take on Roses rivals and bottom club, Manchester Phoenix, at their temporary home in Blackpool.

Wood will be hoping his team can avoid a repeat of their previous visit to the west coast three weeks ago when they lost 5-2.

Hull Pirates will be boosted by the arrival of defenceman Martin Ondrej for Sunday’s visit from Milton Keynes.

The 33-year-old Slovakian’s return to East Yorkshire – he played three seasons with Hull Stingrays between 2011-14 – was a “no-brainer” for player-coach Dominic Osman, who played alongisde him for two seasons under Sylvain Cloutier in the Elite League.

“He’s as strong as an ox and hits like a truck and makes a great first pass, that’s all we need from our import D-man,” said Osman earlier this week.

“Signing Marty is a no-brainer, hands down, he’s a guy who can get it done back there.”

Osman said Ondrej – who spent the past two seasons with Telford – almost came back to Hull in the summer.

“I talked to him over the summer but we were not able to come to an agreement,” added Osman.

“I think Marty realises we have a team that wants to win and he will help us to do that.

“He has loads of experience, he’s played in the Elite League, he’s won a championship in this league and he knows what it takes to get the job done.”

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