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Deacon helps Raiders make their point

PUBLISHED: 22:41 28 March 2015 | UPDATED: 22:41 28 March 2015

London Raiders players show their concern for Liam Chong after a low hit by Cardiff's Michael Newberry

London Raiders players show their concern for Liam Chong after a low hit by Cardiff's Michael Newberry

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National League: London Raiders 3 Cardiff Devils 3

Stephen Deacon’s late powerplay goal earned London Raiders a share of the spoils and condemned former club Cardiff to the National League wooden spoon at Lee Valley Ice Arena.

Deacon swept home Jakub Kostelansky’s cross-ice feed to tie it up, after Michael Newberry was ejected with a 5+game penalty for clipping Liam Chong.

And the home side might have snatched a last-gasp winner as Vaclav Drabek bore down on goal, but Luke Takel was equal to it to make the save.

A short-benched Raiders had come from 2-0 down to beat Cardiff 6-4 on the opening day of the season, thanks largely to a five-point display from Jakub Klima.

Icing only 11 skaters, as player-coach Danny Marshall, Frankie Harvey and Michael Gray served suspensions carried over from last season, they capitalised on Takel’s broken skate blade to beat Cardiff’s back-up keeper James Whiting five times off 18 shots.

But the next meeting between the sides came days after Marshall, Klima, AJ Smith and Perry Richardson had quit the club in early November, after David Oliver and Harvey had already left for Streatham and Invicta, and ended in a 5-0 Cardiff win in Wales.

Weakened Raiders returned two weeks later to suffer a 5-1 defeat and saw their losing run stretch to 19 matches before slowly, but surely, getting back on their feet in the new year.

They had won five and drawn two of their previous 13 matches to secure their play-off spot and a two-legged clash with champions Chelmsford.

And they opened the scoring with only 36 seconds gone, as Bailey Wootton’s long-range backhand shot slipped under Takel’s left pad as Kostelansky screened the Cardiff goalie.

London’s second and third lines had good chances to add further goals on their first shifts of the night, but Takel denied them, and Jack Cooper saw his shot from the right point hit the crossbar.

Drabek fanned on a first-time shot from Josh Condren’s centre and Cardiff broke out to level on the counter-attack through Jamie Hayes.

Raiders, having outshot their rivals 17-11 in the opening frame, fell a bit flat in the middle session and Hayes put Cardiff ahead with a quick shot from a face-off.

A boarding call against Phil Manny then gave the visitors a powerplay chance and they took it to move 3-1 up as Josh Haslam beat Chris Douglas in close.

Raiders replied early in the final stanza as Alan Lack deflected Grant Taylor’s pass inside the post and the gloves came off soon after as Jacob Ranson retaliated to persistent goading from Haslam in mid-ice, getting in some early blows before the big Cardiff man got the take down.

Raiders rediscovered some of their earlier spark as they chased the game, but Takel stood firm until the 57th minute.

Newberry had been binned for a knee-to-knee hit on Chong, that left the Raiders defenceman in some pain and would also leave his side shorthanded for all but the closing three seconds of the match.

Raiders capitalised through Deacon’s far post finish to draw level, but they could not force a decider to end their regular season on a winning note.

Given their problems earlier in the season, it has been a fine effort to qualify for the play-offs and focus now switches to their quarter-final with champions Chelmsford next weekend.

The Chieftains visit on Saturday before hosting the return the following evening and Raiders will certainly need to take their chances if they are to cause an upset against their old rivals.

It should be an intriguing contest.

Raiders: Stephen Deacon 1 Bailey Wootton 1 Alan Lack 1 Jakub Kostelansky* 0+1 Grant Taylor 0+1.

Cardiff: Jamie Hayes 2+1 Josh Haslam 1+1 David Sadler 0+3 Michael Newberry 0+1.

Penalty minutes: Raiders 14 Cardiff 37.

Shots on goal: Chris Douglas (Raiders) 11-12-6=29-3 Luke Takel (Cardiff) 17-11-10=38-3.


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