Blyth happy with Raiders progress

London Raiders coach Alan Blyth looks on from the bench (pic: John Scott)

London Raiders coach Alan Blyth looks on from the bench (pic: John Scott) - Credit: Archant

Onwards and upwards says coach

London Raiders coach Alan Blyth believes he now has the right squad in place to push for a National League play-off place.

Raiders beat Streatham for the second time in seven days last weekend, before battling to a 2-2 draw with Oxford the following night to maintain their hold on eighth place.

But they now have a free weekend in their schedule before returning to action at Streatham on Sunday week (February).

Blyth said: “The way we are currently playing the guys want to play more and more, but it’s a good chance for the players to rest the niggles that a few of them have been playing with and get back to it and raring to go next weekend.

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“I am really happy with the way the new players have slotted into the team. We are getting better every game and even the best teams in this league will not like coming to Lee Valley to play against us.

“This place is fast becoming our fortress and we are determined to keep it that way. The guys are working hard in training and it is showing in the way we are playing.

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“We have a great team spirit and togetherness which has seen us through the dark parts of this season and has given us the platform to build on and move forward. We now have all the right people in the right places and it’s onwards and upwards from here.”

New import Jakub Kostelansky netted another brace in the 5-3 win over the Redskins, with Alan Lack, Liam Chong and Tom Davis also on target.

Jacob Ranson and Davis found the net in Oxford, meanwhile, and Blyth was happy enough with a three-point return.

He added: “We dominated the neutral zone throughout and didn’t allow the Redskin forwards any space to work.

“Our powerplay unit was again firing on all cylinders and punished them on nearly every opportunity. We responded well to what ever they threw at us.

“The first line once again looked like it has played together for ages, with the skill and creativity causing their defenders trouble on every attack. “The second Line were ferocious all night and had the Streatham defenders running scared and seemed to get under their netminder’s skin.

“The third line matched well and had the upper hand on their third line.

“James Tanner had another amazing weekend between the pipes and is proving difficult for the opposition to beat.

“Sunday started at a blistering pace with both teams going all out and failing to take control in their defensive zones.

“We fell behind quite early on and then they just really shut up shop. Oxford is a small and uncomfortable rink and a hard place to play.

“We stuck to the task in hand and pulled the game back level late in the second period. The third period was a bit of a stalemate as neither team wanted to take the chance and push forward and risk being exposed at the back.

“We did have a fair few chances to win the game, but the Oxford netminder came up big.”

With no ice action this weekend, Raiders will hold a Race Night at Fairlop Powerleague tonight (Friday) in a bid to raise more funds.

Blyth said: “It will give the players a chance to let their hair down and mingle with the supporters.

“We appreciate the efforts that the supporters have put in this year so its our chance to get involved and show them out appreciation.”

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