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New Raider Tait relishing Streatham test

PUBLISHED: 17:00 25 November 2016

London Raiders goalie Euan King loses his mask in a collision with Chelmsford's Billy Phillips, as Stewart Tait looks on (pic John Scott)

London Raiders goalie Euan King loses his mask in a collision with Chelmsford's Billy Phillips, as Stewart Tait looks on (pic John Scott)

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Defenceman set to face former club in double-header

JJ Pitchley celebrates scoring for London Raiders at Chelmsford (pic John Scott)JJ Pitchley celebrates scoring for London Raiders at Chelmsford (pic John Scott)

London Raiders most recent recruit Stewart Tait faces one of his former clubs, Streatham, in a National League double-header this weekend.

And Tait, who made his Raiders debut last weekend, expects two tough contests, but believes Raiders are more than a match for any team this season.

Raiders host their rivals at Lee Valley tomorrow (Saturday, 5.30pm), before travelling to south London on Sunday evening and Tait said: “We will want to take all the points, as will they. They have a fantastic set-up in Streatham and now with Jeremy Cornish as head coach he will have them drilled like robots to do their jobs all over the ice.

“We have nothing to fear, we can take momentum and confidence from Sunday’s win in Chelmsford into this weekend and play our style of hockey. We have no one to fear, especially in our own rink.”

London Raiders forward Jacob Ranson puts pressure on Chelmsford goalie Ben Clements (pic John Scott)London Raiders forward Jacob Ranson puts pressure on Chelmsford goalie Ben Clements (pic John Scott)

Experienced defenceman Tait revealed he took little time to decide on a move to the Raiders, following his release from Bracknell, and has settled in quickly.

He added: “When I got released I spoke to the coach and management at London who expressed an interest in signing me.

“After a few conversations and the way the team has performed so far this season it just made sense for me to agree terms with them.

“When I arrived for my first training session I didn’t know what to expect as I didn’t really know anyone that well outside of playing against them. “Everyone was very welcoming and made me part of everything straight away which helped me to relax and just get on with things.”

London Raiders forward Thomas Beesley on the attack at Chelmsford (pic John Scott)London Raiders forward Thomas Beesley on the attack at Chelmsford (pic John Scott)

Tait made his first appearance in a gold and blue jersey against Invicta last Saturday and saw Raiders race into a 2-0 lead against the Dynamos as brothers John and Ross Connolly both found the net.

But the visitors hit back to take the league points and make it a disappointing debut for the 36-year-old Tait.

He added: “My first weekend was always going to be difficult against invicta and Chelmsford, but I feel we should have won both.

“We went two goals up against invicta and should have been out of sight by the end of the first period, but we let them back in and then couldn’t find that extra gear to grab any points. It was disappointing.”

Marek Nahlik celebrates (pic John Scott)Marek Nahlik celebrates (pic John Scott)

Raiders fell behind in their cup meeting with Chelmsford on Sunday, but Jacob Ranson quickly levelled and JJ Pitchley’s powerplay goal put them in front.

Captain Tom Davis and Marek Nahlik also netted to make it 4-1, before the hosts grabbed a late consolation, and Tait added: “Sunday in Chelmsford was the perfect opportunity to bounce back and we did just that and in some style as well.

“We beat them in their own rink and this was my first experience of an Essex derby. Our fans where out in numbers being loud and proud which really makes a difference for the team. It was nice to give them bragging rights and send them home with a smile on their faces.”

There is certainly a lot of optimism surrounding Alan Blyth’s Raiders this season, as they look to put themselves into contention for honours.

And Tait feels that positivity already, adding: “I’m excited to be part of this new-look team moving forward and I would like to thank the fans for making me feel welcome.

“They certainly are passionate and loyal, which is everything you need from the people that cheer you on. There are exciting times ahead for the gold and blue army!”

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