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Ice hockey: Pitchley relishing Raiders-Chelmsford derby date

PUBLISHED: 09:00 31 January 2020

Romford Junior Raiders head coach Ben Pitchley issues instructions from the bench (pic Nikki Day)

Romford Junior Raiders head coach Ben Pitchley issues instructions from the bench (pic Nikki Day)

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Romford Junior Raiders take centre stage at the Sapphire Ice & Leisure Centre with a big Essex derby date against Chelmsford this weekend.

The Chieftains come to town on Saturday (5.15pm) and Raiders head coach Ben Pitchley is hoping for a big home crowd, admitting it is a match-up he always looks forward to.

"When the fixtures come out the first one I always looked for was the Romford/Chelmsford ones, as a player and now as a coach," said former Raiders defenceman Pitchley, who scored six goals and 19 assists in 64 games against Chelmsford during his playing career.

"These are the games you want to be playing in, as they are derby games and mean more to players and fans.

"Over the years we have had a great rivalry between both teams, but with the Raiders now playing in the National League, it has been left to our development side to carry on the rivalry."

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Chelmsford won 7-4 on their previous visit in November and will be looking to complete the full set this season following a pair of home wins at the Riverside, including an 8-1 success only two weeks ago.

Their line-up includes the likes of former Raiders Matt Turner, Julian Smith, Andrew Munroe, Ben Clements and Robert Veares, as well as several ex-Romford juniors.

And the 46-year-old Pitchley, who made 54 of his 637 career appearances on the Chelmsford blue line back in the 1990s, admits that only serves to stoke the rivalry.

He added: "Both sides are packed with players that have pulled on the opposition colours at both junior and senior level, which makes for an even better game to be played.

"Every club has a local rival, and this is now our eighth meeting between the sides since we started our development team.

"These games help produce the next generation of National League Raiders, as they are intense, physical and mentally tough games to be involved in."

Doors open at 4.30pm on Saturday, with admission priced at £10 adults, £8 concessions and £5 for children, while Raiders season-ticket holders get a discount.

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