Raiders head into play-offs after mixed results
PUBLISHED: 11:39 02 April 2014 | UPDATED: 11:39 02 April 2014
London Raiders rounded off their league season with a hard-fought 5-4 win down in Gosport on Saturday and a 10-5 loss at home to the Bracknell Hornets on Sunday.
Saturday’s win secured them a fourth-place finish in the league which means they will take on the fifth-placed Streatham Redskins in the first round of the play-offs this weekend.
Early goals from Tom Davis, Danny Marshall and Frankie Harvey where cancelled out by the hosts who then took the lead in the second period, but Harvey scored again to level in the middle stanza, before AJ Smith netted the winner in the last 10 minutes of the third.
Sunday saw them jump out to another fine start as Marshall opened the scoring and Harvey added two more. Bracknell pulled one back, before Harvey completed a first period hat-trick.
But then Raiders ran out of steam and the Hornets piled it on, scoring at regular intervals. Harvey notched a fourth at the midway mark, but it was of little consolation as netminder Michael Gray made way for youngster Frankie Sabine in the final period and the Raiders began to think about the play-offs.
Player-coach Marshall summed up Saturday’s win by saying: “We had to beat Solent to finish fourth and at the start of the season I said I’d be happy with fourth place. Obviously I go out every year to win it but we knew at the start it was going to be hard so I’m pretty happy with what we’ve achieved in the league.”
Sunday was of little consequence to the Raiders so Marshall was not too concerned about the loss.
“Sunday was hard against Bracknell, they had three lines running against us and then Tommy (Davis) got an injury so AJ (Smith) went back and he did a job.
“I took ‘P Head’ (Michael Gray) out because he was getting frustrated over a nothing game and I wanted him to go into the play-offs in the right frame of mind and it was also good to give (Frankie) Sabine a go in net.”
Saturday’s game saw captain Grant Taylor get hit in the face by a puck which required 12 stitches and make-shift defenceman Tom Davis picked up an injury on Sunday. The only dedicated defenceman available for selection all weekend was David Oliver, who played every minute of both games, but all are set to be fit come Saturday.
Marshall commented: “Tommy (Davis) has been playing great in defence and it’s going to take something for me to put him back up front really and I know Grant, he’s tough and he’ll want to play.”
The constantly short-benched Raiders will have to show their endurance when they take on Streatham but Marshall believes they can do it and praised the efforts of all his players.
“All of the boys can be proud of the efforts, waking up on Monday morning with nothing left in the tank and then come to training midweek and doing it all over again at the weekend, it’s been going on for a while now and they have my full appreciation for it.”