Raiders ready for play-off hockey
PUBLISHED: 17:00 27 March 2015
Blyth wants win in final league fixture
London Raiders coach Alan Blyth wants his side to end the regular season on a winning note against bottom club Cardiff at Lee Valley tomorrow (Saturday).
Raiders secured their play-off place last weekend following a 5-4 win over Solent, but slipped to a 6-2 loss at MK Thunder the following night.
Cardiff need a win to survive and send Oxford down and, with a two-legged quarter-final against champions Chelmsford to come over Easter weekend, Blyth wants his players to rediscover the winning habit quickly.
He said: “This is a huge game for both us and the league. We need this to be a building block for the play-offs and want to be going into next weekend against Chelmsford off the back of a good performance.
“Cardiff will be looking to win to retain their position in the league and will offer a difficult task for us.
“This will be played like a play-off game and we will not be giving them an inch of space.”
Raiders fell to 5-0 and 5-1 defeats when the two sides met in Wales in November, when they were in the early stages of a 19-game losing streak after the exits of Danny Marshall, Jakub Klima, AJ Smith and Perry Richardson.
But they are much improved since the turn of the year and, having beaten Cardiff 6-4 on the opening day of the season, will look to complete a home double and reach double figures for wins as the curtain comes down on the league campaign.
Blyth added: “We remember the way they played against us when we were depleted in the middle of the season and it’s time that we gave something back.”
Raiders raced into a 3-0 lead against Solent last Saturday, thanks to Jakub Kostelansky’s brace and a Vaclav Drabek effort.
But, after Grant Taylor also netted, George Norcliffe replied with a hat-trick to help the visitors draw level at 4-4.
Captain Tom Davis netted the game winner on a late powerplay and sees the importance of registering another victory tomorrow.
He said: “Cardiff I still see as a must-win game.
“We want to go into play-offs with that win under our belt and hopefully keep the ball rolling.
“Last Saturday was a very big win for Raiders. It made my night even better by nicking the game-winning goal!”
Raiders were soon 2-0 down against Thunder and, although Drabek and Taylor found the net again, they saw David Oliver, Davis and Ross Wilkinson ejected as frustrations grew with referee Rick Adams.
“Sunday was up there with one of the worst performances I’ve seen all season and I don’t just mean by the players,” said Davis.
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