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Coach Pitchley hoping young Raiders get warm send-off in final home fixture of season

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 March 2019

Ben Pitchley issues instructions on the Raiders bench

Ben Pitchley issues instructions on the Raiders bench

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Everyone Active Raiders play their last home match of the National League Division Two season against Bracknell Hornets on Sunday (5.30pm).

Raiders celebrate a goal in National League Division TwoRaiders celebrate a goal in National League Division Two

And head coach Ben Pitchley is hoping to see a big crowd at the Sapphire & Ice Leisure Centre in Romford to give his young squad a good send-off.

They are set to visit leaders Slough on Saturday and trips to bottom club Lee Valley Lions and third-placed Oxford City Stars follow on successive weekends before the end of March.

And the 45-year-old Pitchley wants his Raiders to maintain their hold on sixth place in their debut campaign.

“The average age of our roster is 21.35, which is one of the youngest in the league, ” Pitchley told prohockeynews.com.

“And when we have 16, 17 and 18 year olds playing big minutes of hockey, in all situations, including our GB under-18 women, it’s only going to fast-track their development.

“We have some older heads in the team and you can see the improvement in their game as well, due to playing alongside these junior players.”

Raiders head into the weekend on the back of a resounding 10-1 home win over Peterborough’s second-string Phantoms, who took the lead after 54 seconds.

Tommy Huggett and Jake Hall hit back before the first break to put Raiders in front, with Thomas Baptist adding a third early in the middle period.

Callum Burnett and Huggett added power play goals to make it 5-1, with starting goalie Brad Windebank making way inbetween times for Thomas Adams, just past the midway mark. Adams turned aside all 20 shots that came his way in nearly 28 minutes of action, as Raiders doubled their tally in the final period.

Captain Sam Roberts and Huggett made it 7-1, before the visitors replaced Dan Lane with Jack Peacock between the posts.

And Raiders saw Dan Hitchings (shorthanded), George Gell and Ewan Hill find the net in the last 2.33 of play to reach double figures for a third time this term.

Pitchley, who played 582 times for the Romford Raiders, added: “The juniors are the future of this club, so the more we invest in them now, the better situation the club is in.

“Player development is key to the success of the club long-term so it’s going to be a long haul, but in 10 years time there will be a lot of juniors looking to make the senior programme in this club.”

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