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London Raiders sign defensive duo

PUBLISHED: 12:20 19 January 2016 | UPDATED: 12:20 19 January 2016

Former Chelmsford Chieftain Matt France keeps close tabs on London Raiders forward Rio Grinell-Parke during an earlier clash this season (pic: John Scott)

Former Chelmsford Chieftain Matt France keeps close tabs on London Raiders forward Rio Grinell-Parke during an earlier clash this season (pic: John Scott)

Archant

France and Connolly join from Chelmsford

London Raiders have announced the return of defenceman Matt France and addition of fellow blueliner John Connelly, after both were released by Chelmsford.

France played for the Lee Valley-based Raiders last season, but signed for his home-town club in the summer.

However, he is now back in Alan Blyth’s squad and joined by GB under-20 international Connelly, with both players available for the clash with Streatham on Saturday.

A club statement said: “Matt was definitely one that got away in the summer and we were disappointed to lose him to the team closest to his home.

“We had been keeping an eye on the merry go round that traditionally occurs close to the signing deadline and Matt becoming available was one of our most favourable outcomes.

“With Chelmsford entering the player market our good fortune is the very welcome return of one of last season’s most popular returnees to the gold and blue.

“John has impressed at Chelmsford and after his venture into the EPL, Raiders were hoping to tempt him down to Lee Valley. His previous affiliation with Chelmsford put paid to those ambitions, but we are delighted that we have now agreed terms with the Scot.”

Connelly has played in the Elite League for Edinburgh and Braehead, as well as Manchester, Slough and Milton Keynes in the English Premier League.

Further afield, he also made 35 appearances for the New Mexico Renegades in the Western States Hockey League and eight games in Kazakhstan.

The statement added: “To do so before your 24th year will go some way towards explaining the popularity of the highly-rated defenceman.

“The addition of these two experienced players is seen to be an ideal boost for the final three months of the season.

“Calm heads under pressure are guaranteed to assist the Raiders sometimes fragile defence which has needed to be bolstered by our versatile utility players.

“They are expected to bring a different dynamic to the team and enable the rest of the squad to go about their jobs without having to defend serious penalty minutes.”

There was further good news regarding Liam Chong, who is currently sidelined with a broken thumb.

A spokesman said: “We are pleased to announce Liam’s injury is making good progress and he is not expected to be missing for the traditional six-week fracture rehabilitation period.”

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