JAMES Neil is ready to guide his Blackburn Hawks underdogs to cup glory.

The Hawks face Solihull Barons over two legs in the Midland Cup final this weekend and Neil says his side are ready to upset the odds – just as they did in the semi finals.

The Hawks weren’t expected to beat Sutton Sting in the last month’s semi final but did not lose a single period as they sealed a 10-6 aggregate win.

That victory was built on a solid 6-3 home win at Blackburn Arena in the first leg and Neil is hoping for a similar performance in front of a packed home crowd at Saturday.

But he has warned players and fans that this is a six period final held over two legs and it is vital his side are still in it at the halfway stage.

“It’s going to be a brilliant atmosphere at the Arena and none of us can wait,” said Neil. “We’’re expected a crowd of over 1,000 and with that many people cheering us on, it will be a massive boost.

“We upset the odds in the semi final and we can do it again. But we have to be clever and not get too carried away. Everyone has to remember this is a two-legged final, that’s six periods on the ice.

“If we can come out of the first leg ahead, then that would be great, trailing by one or two then that would not be too bad.

“The last thing we want is to lose heavily and the final is already over before the second leg.”

The Hawks have suffered a number of heavy defeats to the Barons this season – losing 10-2, 13-5 and 9-2 in the first three league and cup meetings between the teams. But Neil will take the positives out of their last meeting where the Hawks ran out 6-4 winners in the group stages of the cup early last month.

“They are a good team but a team under pressure,” said Neil.

“They are expected to win so we have to use that to our advantage.

“We played very well against them the last time we met and since then we have got better.

“I know for a fact that if we are on top of our game then we are more than capable of beating them.”

Nottingham-born Neil has enjoyed plenty of success in his own playing career, winning silverware at Nottingham Panthers, Manchester Phoenix and Milton Keynes Lightning.

And he will be hoping that experience plus that of Hawks all-time leading scorer Aaron Davies and import Petr Valusiak can help his young team.

He said: “I know what it is like to win things, Aaron was part of the all-conquering Hawks team from a few years ago and Petr has been a brilliant player for us.

“He’s not just here to score goals like a lot of imports but has been a real team player, he brings a bit of everything.

He added: “We just can’t wait now, everyone is excited to be in a final and show what we can do.”

The first leg takes place at Blackburn Arena on Saturday (doors open 5pm, face off 6pm).

Tickets are £10 adults, £5 children, £7.50 concessions, £26 family