Pentecost relishing London Raiders home debut
17:00 23 September 2016
New signing set to face former club Oxford
London Raiders new boy James Pentecost cannot wait for them to open their National League Division One campaign against Oxford City Stars at Lee Valley tomorrow (Saturday, 5.30pm).
Pentecost picked up two assists on his debut last weekend, with Marek Nahlik netting twice as Raiders were edged out 4-2 at Invicta in a cup fixture.
And he believes his new club can surprise people this season, saying: “I’d say on paper, this is one of the strongest teams I’ve played with, we know we have the capability of doing some damage, we just need to prove it now, starting this weekend.
“I expect maximum points going into any game. Getting a win in your home opener can be a real boost and will help us going into Streatham on Sunday.”
Pentecost was one of three new faces in the side at Gillingham, with fellow forward Thomas Beesley also impressing alongside returning Raiders Julian Smith, Jacob Ranson and JJ Pitchley.
And he says he has settled quickly alongside new team-mates, adding: “There’s always a transition period when you move to a new team, but everyone was very welcoming from the start.
“Everyone knows this can be a big year for the Raiders so we’ve all settled down quickly to work hard to meet those expectations.
“The travelling fans last week were unbelievably loud, so it we get that atmosphere again at home then I think everyone will be taking it to the next level to get two points.”
Oxford opened their account with an 8-5 home win over Streatham last weekend, having lost 4-3 to Isle of Wight in their first match.
And recent meetings with Raiders have proved feisty, as Pentecost knows only too well.
He said: “I’m really excited. Obviously it’s always nice to see old faces again. I had a great time there, won some silverware and the guys are great.
“I’m sure it’ll feel strange once I’m out there but I’m just going to focus on getting the two points.
“I’ve played in this fixture enough times to know the sort of intensity it brings. It’ll be a tough physical one and I expect it be be pretty close right to the end. I can imagine both sets of fans will be making some noise too which always helps the atmosphere.” Stars finished fourth last season and have a settled squad, including experienced goalie Tom Annetts and import duo Joonas Liimatainen and Ondrej Pekarik.
And Pentecost knows it will be far from easy for his new side to overcome his former club.
“The difficult thing about Oxford is that they have depth. It can be anyone on any particular night,” he said.
“They’ve obviously got their imports but their British players can have stand-out nights, whether it’s Joe Edwards, Josh or Joe Oliver or Darren Elliott. You can’t just focus on one player against this team.
“Simon Anderson is one of the most tactical coaches I’ve played for, so I think it’s more of a case of breaking down their structure rather than particular players.”
After hosting Oxford, Raiders travel to south London to take on Streatham in another cup fixture and Pentecost is relishing the challenge of their first double-header of the campaign.
He added: “I’m very excited for a double header. I tend to over-analyse games too much after they finish so I like to be able to just move on and focus on the next day.
“Starting the season on a single-game weekend was a good transition for the guys, so I think we will be ready for the double.”