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Blyth wants to build Raiders momentum

PUBLISHED: 17:30 06 November 2015

London Raiders players huddle around their bench with coach Alan Blyth (pic: John Scott)

London Raiders players huddle around their bench with coach Alan Blyth (pic: John Scott)

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Coach hails ‘best defensive display’ of reign

London Raiders coach Alan Blyth wants his players to take the momentum from their win over MK Thunder into this weekend’s matches.

Marek Nahlik’s brace and a 44-save shutout from goalie Michael Gray earned Raiders a 2-0 win at Lee Valley last weekend and they visit Chelmsford for a cup tie tomorrow (Saturday) before returning to National League action at Invicta a day later.

Blyth said: “It was a massive two points for us. I said at the start of the season I thought MK could be a top three or four team and it was probably our best defensive display by a long shot since I took over.

“Michael’s confidence has been growing in the defence in front of him and their confidence has been growing in him too.

“The vibe and camaraderie is improving in the dressing room and the team is gelling.

“Any game against Chelmsford is one you don’t want to take lightly. We will go there and look for a positive result and the same at Invicta.

“They’re having a sticky patch at the moment and we will go there and look to help that continue, rather than give them a kickstart to get out of it.

“We’ve got a full team this weekend and when we’ve got a full squad we can play some attractive hockey.”

Raiders added the experienced Rob Jenner to their squad this week and Blyth is hoping he will help bring on some of the younger players, adding: “Jenner is a big boost for us. He’s a player who plays with his head, more than his heart. And in difficult situations you need that, rather than someone who goes in gung-ho.

“Since his mid-season break Jack Cooper has come back with confidence and he has now got his old partner from Haringey alongside him, who he has worked with for a few years.”

Chieftains suffered a surprise defeat at Oxford last weekend, before edging past MK Thunder themselves.

And Blyth is hoping his men can fare better at the Riverside Arena after losing their previous matches 8-1 and 8-3.

He said: “Oxford is a bit like Rom Valley Way was for Romford. It’s intimidating, they’ve got the nets around the rink and the fans are on top of you.

“The ice is terrible and it’s not a nice place to go, which Chelmsford found out. It was a wake-up call for them, but hopefully not too much of a wake-up call!”

Blyth also had praise for two-goal Nahlik and said his squad will look to pick up from where they left off last weekend, after seeing their trip to Bracknell postponed due to ice problems.

He added: “Marek has been great for us on and off the ice. I do think we’ve got two of the best imports in the league. I’ve not seen any others work harder than Marek in any game this season.

“The boys were looking forward to the Bracknell game after beating them the week before and the solid performance against MK.

“You want to keep on playing, but we will try and carry it into Saturday’s game at Chelmsford now.”

n Romford’s Abbie Sylvester plays for Great Britain under-18s in a four-team tournament in Sheffield this weekend.

The women face Hungary tonight (Friday, 7.45pm), Spain tomorrow (Saturday, 1.15pm) and Poland on Sunday (1pm).


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