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Raiders fans deserve step up to more competitive National League says captain Connolly

PUBLISHED: 17:00 12 September 2019 | UPDATED: 00:18 13 September 2019

Aaron Connolly celebrates (pic John Scott)

Aaron Connolly celebrates (pic John Scott)

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Everyone Active Raiders captain Aaron Connolly says the step up to the National League is what the fans deserve.

The Romford-based club finished fifth in the NIHL South One last season but have now opted to move up to the National League following the off-season league restructure.

And although the former Basingstoke Bison man knows it will be tough he believes it will be a strong competitive league.

"It's a step up in league for the club, but it's the correct thing to do to move this club forward and it's what the fans deserve," the 26-year-old said.

"I think the new league will be much more competitive than last season as you can already see from some of the pre-season results, all the teams look evenly matched."

A former league treble-winner, Connolly says there is no set target for his side and they're keen to prove their worth this campaign - despite being major underdogs ahead of the season.

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"I think the main target this year is to be competing and giving ourselves a chance in every game and see where that gets us towards the end of year," he added.

Raiders lost a number of players in goaltender Ben Clements, defencemen Julian Smith and John Connolly as well as forwards Matt Turner, Juraj Huska, Filip Sedivy and Liam Chong - with the majority signing for teams in NIHL South One.

Head coach Sean Easton has moved to bring in new imports Marek Malinsky and Lukas Sladkovsky, as well a new face in gritty forward Jack Flynn.

He has also brought back the likes of Olegs Lascenko, Ross Connolly and Jacob Ranson, who have previously played for the club.

There have also been call-ups for young goaltender Bradley Windebank and Callum Burnett from the Raiders second team.

"I think the recruitment this summer has gone really well. All the boys have been together a few weeks now and there is a really good vibe between us and we can't wait to get going," said Connolly.

"We clearly have youth on our side this year and we will be looking to use that to our advantage with a fast-paced, in-your-face kind of style."

The team has been training for a number of weeks now and even had a team day out at Stubbers to help bond ahead of the new season.

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