Raiders renew rivalry
PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 April 2015
A quick guide to London v Isle of Wight
London Raiders take on their namesakes from the Isle of Wight in the semi-finals of the National League play-offs this weekend.
The Lee Valley-based club thought their season was over following a 10-5 aggregate defeat against regular season champions Chelmsford last weekend, only to be reinstated when the Chieftains were found to have iced an ineligible player.
Wight eased past Bracknell in their two-legged tie and won three out of four meetings with Raiders in the league. But the formbook can go out of the window in the play-offs.
Raiders 2 Isle of Wight 6
Defenceman Phil Manny scores twice for the hosts, but Jaroslav Cesky and Stephen Balmer nab braces for the islanders in a fairly routine win.
After a sixth successive loss to Milton Keynes the following night, Frankie Harvey asks to be released, with David Oliver having already left for Streatham.
Raiders player-coach Danny Marshall says: “This is unchartered territory and a test of character.
“There’s a lot of time to put it right and I will put it right. We’ve got to move forward.”
Isle of Wight 4 Raiders 1
Recent recruit Liam Chong nets after just 11 seconds to give Raiders the lead in Ryde.
But Cesky’s hat-trick helps the hosts turn things around, despite 53 saves from James Tanner in the visiting net.
Defeat makes it 14 in a row for Raiders, following the exits of Marshall, Jakub Klima, AJ Smith, Perry Richardson and Mike Brabon.
But captain Tom Davis tries to remain positive, saying: “The Isle of Wight was always goinng to be tough. We played some great hockey, but Cesky is up there with the best imports in the league.”
Isle of Wight 3 Raiders 6
Alan Lack and Jacob Ranson net two goals apiece, while Chris Douglas makes 51 saves, to lead shortbenched Raiders to a superb win.
Vaclav Drabek plays as a forward and finds the net, as Chong switches to defence, and Stephen Deacon is also on target for the visitors, who record their fourth win in seven outings to raise hopes of a play-off place.
Lack and Jack Cooper drop the gloves to take on Jeremy Cornish and Nick Compton and Raiders coach Alan Blyth says: “We showed real class and style throughout the game.
“We moved the puck well and looked a threat every time we went forward.
“Wight tried to intimidate us, but that didn’t work.”
Raiders 1 Isle of Wight 5
Missing Slovakian import Jakub Kostelansky, Raiders fall behind in the first minute and struggle to hit back.
Bailey Wootton is also absent for the hosts, as Deacon nets their sole reply.
Blyth says: “We took a few too many penalties and that cost us.
“We missed JK and had to reshuffle the lines a bit. We need to be more disciplined in our play and play a smarter game.”