National League: Raiders 1 Basingstoke 2
PUBLISHED: 08:20 19 February 2018
Two late Bison goals inside the last five minutes denied Raiders some deserved reward against the National League leaders at Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre on Sunday.
Raiders were playing their third match in their new Romford town centre home, having beaten Cardiff and Swindon in their first two fixtures at the venue earlier in the month.
And another big crowd was in attendance, witnessing a tense battle throughout.
Raiders saw captain Tom Davis pick up a 2+10 penalty for checking from behind in the opening minutes, but survived the shorthanded spell, although they could not capitalise on an interference minor against Joe Baird towards the end of the first period.
The scoreline remained blank through the first two periods as play as Raiders goalie Michael Gray and opposite number Dean Skinns turned aside 30 and 22 shots respectively in the opening 40 minutes of action.
The home side broke the deadlock with barely a minute played in the final session, though, as Brandon Ayliffe found the net and they killed off a slashing penalty against defenceman Julian Smith soon after.
It remained 1-0 to Raiders until the 56th minute when the outstanding Gray was finally beaten by Bison captain Aaron Connolly.
And Raiders were denied the chance to take the match to overtime and left empty-handed when Ryan Sutton struck a winning goal for the visitors with only 62 seconds left on the clock.
The win kept Bison at the top of the table ahead of Peterborough, while Raiders remain in fourth place, two points ahead of Bracknell with a game in hand.
And Raiders host Peterborough at the Sapphire on Saturday (February 24, 5.45pm), before a trip to Swindon as they look to maintain their push for that fourth-place finish.
Raiders: Ayliffe 1.
Bison: Connolly 1+1, Sutton 1, Davies 0+1, Dewey 0+1, Reynolds 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Raiders 14, Bison 4.
Shots on goal: Michael Gray (L) 11-19-16=46-2; Dean Skinns (B) 11-11-6=28-1.
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