Raiders ‘will fight to finish’
PUBLISHED: 15:00 17 January 2014
Smith: Our spirit shines through
Raiders forward AJ Smith says their threadbare squad will fight to the finish in the National League this season.
Smith was on target for the second successive weekend as Danny Marshall’s men fell to defeat against their namesakes from the Isle of Wight on the small rink at Ryde.
And he is now in an exclusive club of just 13 players with 100 goals to their name for the club as they look to end a five-game losing run against basement boys MK Thunder at Lee Valley tomorrow (Saturday, 5.30pm) before visiting Bracknell on Sunday.
He said: “Isle of Wight away is always one of the toughest fixtures of the season every year and that’s with a full squad.
“This was our first game since the unfortunate release of the Peterborough lads and we were also missing Bill (Phillips), Tyrone (Miller) and Frank (Sabine).
“With all that in mind I think we put up a hell of a fight and were unlucky not to take at least a point home with us.
“We were up against it right from the start and where some teams might crumble, that is where our Romford spirit shines through and we fight until the death.”
Michael Gray returned between the pipes for Raiders, following Euan King’s release alongside Dwayne Newman, Jason Buckman, Shaun Yardley and Nathan Pollard.
And although he was beaten three times early on, Smith said it was good to welcome him back, adding: “Having P-head back in the team is a huge boost.
“Having only one goalie is a dangerous situation for any team and luckily Marsh acted quickly after Kinger’s release and we now have two top keepers in P-head and Sabine.”
As for his own recent achievement in reaching a century of goals in gold and blue, Smith was quick to pay tribute to linemate Yardley, in what turned out to be his last appearance for the club.
He added: “Getting my 100th goal for the club last week was a great moment for me which was overshadowed by the events that happened after the game.
“I’d been stuck on 99 for a few weeks and before the game Yards said to me that he was going to make sure I got it that day and then he pretty much refused to shoot all game, just passing it to me every time he got the puck!
“Luckily I repaid him by scoring on my last shift of the game, with help from him and Dan Peters.”
Smith will go in search of goal no.102 against the Thunder tomorrow, but is taking nothing for granted against a side who held Raiders to a draw – their only point so far this season – earlier in the campaign.
He said: “This weekend’s games against Milton Keynes and Bracknell will be tough, as every game will be from now on with only 11 guys.
“We will come out swinging and hopefully finish the weekend with four points, but we are just taking each game as it comes right now and with the fans behind us, you can never write us off.”