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Connolly: Latest wins ‘huge’ for Raiders

PUBLISHED: 12:00 13 December 2018

Raiders captain Aaron Connolly attacks (pic Kev Lamb)

Raiders captain Aaron Connolly attacks (pic Kev Lamb)

© Lambpix

Everyone Active Raiders captain Aaron Connolly called their weekend wins over the National League’s top two teams ‘huge’ for team confidence.

Aaron Connolly celebrates his goal against Bracknell (pic Kev Lamb)Aaron Connolly celebrates his goal against Bracknell (pic Kev Lamb)

Connolly was on the scoresheet in a 5-2 victory at leaders Swindon on Saturday and again the following night as Raiders rallied from two goals down to beat second-placed Bracknell 4-2 at Romford’s Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre.

And the 25-year-old says those results should give his team-mates plenty of belief moving forwards, saying: “It’s huge for us. We’ve come close a lot of times and should be pushing towards the top of the table.

“It’s a new team, we can make all the excuses in the world, but at the end of the day we’re not at the top of the table right now, but that just goes to show what team we really do have.

“I still believe we should be up at the top of the table, we’re competing with these top teams all the way through and this is massive for us. We’ve got four wins on the bounce now and want to continue that into Christmas.”

Raiders had skated to convincing wins over struggling Milton Keynes Thunder (9-4) and Invicta Dynamos (8-0) a week earlier and Connolly was pleased to see his side maintain their winning momentum in much tougher tests.

He added: “Last weekend, no disrespect to the teams we played but they’re below us in the table and we should be getting those points.

“Now to carry it on with another four-point weekend against the two top teams just shows, that’s what we need to be doing. That’s the team we are, the people we’ve got in the room, that’s where we need to be, winning those games the way we are at the minute and continue with that.”

Connolly dropped back into a defensive role in the absence of Callum Wells and Liam Chong, which allowed young Brandon Ayliffe to link up with Blaho Novak and Ashley Jackson on the forward line.

And last season’s Raider of the Year certainly stepped up, claiming five assists over the course of the weekend to earn praise from his skipper.

Connolly said: “The guy does not stop working which is just unbelievable really.

“He’s a great little player and he’s starting to get his opportunities now and he’s taking it by the horns.

“He had an awesome weekend and I told him that. He was great and we can’t ask for more from a guy like that stepping up when we need him. [It was] an awesome performance.”

Despite back-to-back four-point weekends, Raiders find themselves down in fifth place in the table, with 11 wins and 11 losses leaving them nine points adrift of new leaders Peterborough, having played four games more.

And while a challenge for the league title might seem a way off, Connolly refuses to throw in the towel just yet and says there is still the post-season.

He added: “If I was the other teams who’ve played us and beaten us, they’re probably a bit lucky right now.

“We’re coming into form coming into Christmas, which is always great. Back end of the year, push on, start climbing the table, get on a good play-off run and hopefully get some trophies.”

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