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Raiders complete maximum return

PUBLISHED: 19:19 22 October 2010

Devils defeated in spicy affair

RAIDERS completed a first four-point weekend in more than 18 months and gained revenge for their only defeat of the current campaign in a niggly Rom Valley Way encounter.

Not since a penalty shoot-out win in Sheffield and home success over Milton Keynes in March 2009 had Raiders enjoyed back-to-back triumphs.

But, following their excellent victory on the Isle of Wight, Danny Marshall’s men saw off Cardiff in a penalty-littered encounter, to ensure a spicy return tomorrow.

Devils arrived in Essex without former Raiders duo Brent Pope and Lee Cowmeadow, while import forward Robert Sedlak barely set foot on the ice.

They created the first chance of note, as Chris Jones forced a pad save from Michael Gray in the first minute, before Raiders captain Anthony Leone was binned on a roughing minor for what appeared a good old-fashioned hit.

It was the first of several fussy calls by Blaine Evans and the stop-start nature of play did not help keep a lid on tempers.

Gray denied Phil Manny and Tim Burrows on the Devils powerplay, before Raiders were given a chance of their own with a charging call against Lee Duance.

Pierre Wilhelmsson’s wristshot was the home side’s first effort on Mike Brabon’s net and the Swedish blueliner thudded another into the chest of the Cardiff keeper.

Frankie Harvey’s shot was spilled close to the line, while Leone’s drive from a face-off was held by Brabon, before opposite number Gray almost handed Cardiff an opener.

Coming out of his net to play the puck and looking for a long pass to Joe Allen, Gray succeeded only in picking out a Devils player, but was grateful to see Julian Smith block their attempt at the vacant cage.

Harvey drew a high-sticking penalty against Jordan Powell, but was then fortunate to escape with only a boarding minor himself after a hit from behind on Jones.

Raiders broke the deadlock during the 4-on-4, though, as Allen fought for the puck in a corner and Leone skated out to fire through Brabon’s pads.

The hosts doubled their lead soon after as Marshall pounced on a loose puck in mid-ice, dropped a pass off for AJ Smith, then drove to the net to deflect his return pass inside the right post.

A bench minor penalty against Cardiff enabled Raiders to move 3-0 up on the powerplay as Jason Buckman’s shot from the left point came back off Brabon’s pads and Marshall teed up Smith for a tap-in.

A hit from behind on Stuart Low, late in the period, saw Grant Baxter and Reece Covington grab hold of a Devil apiece, setting the scene for later scraps.

Cardiff hit back soon after the restart as Adam Wood swept home a pass from Tim Burrows as Marshall’s slashing penalty drew to a close, but Leone replied with a mazy skate and hard shot which rang the pipes.

Raiders claimed their fourth after a counter-attack saw Marshall pick out Smith, who appeared to be hooked, before Harvey’s shot was blocked by Brabon and the puck was worked back to Wilhelmsson, who flashed home a slapshot from just inside the zone.

A nasty hit from behind by Burrows on David Oliver earned the Cardiff man only a boarding minor, while Romford’s defenceman picked up a 10-minute misconduct for verbalising his feelings.

The next shift saw Baxter and Low come to blows with Cardiff opponents and a hooking minor against Manny soon after allowed Raiders to move 5-1 up on the powerplay.

Wilhelmsson’s shot came back off the rink netting, but Smith was onto the loose puck quickly and found the smallest of gaps at the near post to beat Brabon.

Harvey skated on to a Buckman pass, only to be denied by a smart glove save, before Steve Paris and Jamie Dancey clashed in mid-ice in the closing seconds of the period.

The gloves stayed on, but Evans handed both players 10-minute penalties for incitement and when Dancey made his feelings known, he was thrown out with a second 10-minute penalty for abuse of official.

Marshall talked his way into trouble at the buzzer, but at least got the chance to have a closer look at his squad during the third period.

Gray thwarted Gareth Dixon at close range, while Brabon kept out Harvey on another breakaway before Marshall returned to the action and smashed a shot over the keeper’s glove hand.

Tom Davis and Duance traded blows behind the Cardiff net on the next shift, with Dixon claiming his side’s second goal on the resultant powerplay.

And a closing bout between McGrath and Manny, with eight seconds remaining, should ensure Romford a warm welcome in Wales.

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