Raiders v Chelmsford: a guide
PUBLISHED: 16:00 03 April 2015
Rivals ready for play-off showdown
Matches between Raiders and Chieftains have certainly been well-contested over the last 27 seasons.
A fierce Essex rivalry developed while Raiders were based at the old Romford Ice Rink in Rom Valley and meetings have been hard fought since the London Raiders began playing at Lee Valley in September 2013.
Chelmsford have claimed the bragging rights in all four meetings between the sides this season, however those wins came before the turn of the year, when Raiders were struggling and shortstaffed during a 19-game losing streak.
Chelmsford 7 Raiders 3
Jakub Klima cancels out Michael Ranby’s opener on a Raiders powerplay, but shorthanded goals from Martin Piecha and Darren Brown help the hosts move 4-1 up after two periods.
The gap grows to five before Vaclav Drabek and Stephen Deacon grab consolations for the visitors.
Player-coach Danny Marshall says: “A couple of mistakes cost us. Chelmsford are a bit stronger, well-drilled, disciplined and have quite a bit of depth.
“It’s early days yet, but they threw their best at us. We’ve got more to come.”
Raiders 4 Chelmsford 6
With Marshall, Klima, AJ Smith, Perry Richardson and Mike Brabon having all left the club, Raiders hand debuts to goalie James Tanner and defenceman Jack Cooper.
Josh Condren’s first Raiders goal opens the scoring, but Chieftains reply to move 3-1 up.
The remaining six goals are all scored on powerplays, with Ross Wilkinson, Drabek and Deacon on target for Raiders to keep them in the hunt before Matt Turner’s late clincher for the visitors.
Phil Manny missed the match due to suspension but says: “I was following the game on Twitter and was impressed to see we kept the game tight.
“One of the major problems has been playing so short-benched in recent weeks. We’ve run out of gas in the last period og games.”
Chelmsford 7 Raiders 2
Having dropped to the bottom of the table with a 4-2 home loss against Oxford the night before, Raiders end up well beaten at the Riverside.
Dan Peters cancels out Chelmsford’s early opener, but the hosts net four unanswered goals before Peters pops up with his second.
Chieftains strike twice more at the start of the final period, but Raiders avoid further damage in the remaining 17 minutes.
Michael Gray returns in goal after a knee injury and says: “It was a great feeling to be able to put the Raiders shirt back on as it has been hard for me over the last six weeks watching the team. We are making steps forward.”
Raiders 3 Chelmsford 8
Four goals from Piecha power Chieftains to a comfortable win to complete a clean sweep over Raiders.
Jacob Ranson, Bailey Wootton and Peters reply for the hosts, who suffer their 19th successive defeat.
But there is better news the following night as they ended that long streak with a 4-2 home win over MK Thunder.
Peters, Liam Chong, Drabek and Ranson all find the net as Raiders, with Grant Taylor back in their line-up, end 2014 on a winning note.
Captain Tom Davis says: “Having Grant back made a big difference, not only on the ice but in the changing room as well.
“We are still due players coming into the team which can only make us stronger, so it’s looking up.
“We now go into the new year with that win under our belt and hopefully we can carry this on for the rest of the season.”
From finding themselves rock bottom of the table at the midway point of the season, Raiders have rallied well to climb above Cardiff and Oxford and secure a play-off place.
The odds are stacked against them, with champions Chelmsford clear favourites to progress, but the post-season does throw up the odd surprise now and then.
Chieftains were held to a 2-2 draw at home by Oxford recently, which should give Raiders hope, and the key will be to keep it as close as possible in the first leg at Lee Valley to ensure the return at the Riverside is not academic.
Keeping cool in the heat of battle and staying out of the penalty box will be crucial for the underdogs who, in all fairness, have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Romford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.