Smith relishing Raiders showdown
PUBLISHED: 17:34 25 February 2011
'It will always get heated'
Romford Raiders defenceman Julian Smith is relishing this weekend’s big ENL showdown with title rivals Isle of Wight.
Smith has settled in well at Rom Valley Way this season, following his move from Peterborough, and shown a real presence on the blue line.
And the EPL treble-winner is only too aware of the significance of the clash in Ryde.
He said: “It’s a massive game at the Isle of Wight and there’s no better way to get ready than be pushed to the limit.
“We came from behind to win both games last weekend and that builds confidence, but it’s also a wake-up call. We know we can’t afford to be half-asleep at the start.
“Streatham was a real character-building performance. We knew it was going to be tough and were not too disheartened by their early goal.
“But with players missing we knew we had to step up and put our bodies on the line.
“Tom Davis and Liam Doyle did really, really well. It was a great performance and builds confidence.
“It’s fantastic to get good support. There was a great Raiders crowd at Streatham and it really helps when you’re down.”
A sizeable band of Romford supporters will make the long trip down to the island in the hope of seeing their Raiders take another step towards silverware.
Ryde has not always been a happy hunting ground for Romford, but they have already won there this season and will be looking to send a message to their title rivals.
Smith says the mood in the camp is upbeat. “Everyone keeps saying this could be a title decider, but we’ve still got to play them again and I don’t see it as the end of the road. There’s a lot of hockey still to play,” he said.
“The attitude of everyone is we want to take this game. The title is the Isle of Wight’s to lose and we’ll make it really difficult for them.
“It’s always physical on the Isle of Wight. It’s a small rink and you’re so close, there are a lot more hits and open-ice hits and there’s a lot more chippiness.
“It will always get heated but we want to get the points first and will deal with anything else back in our barn.
“I think they’ll try and ruffle us up so we take penalties, but we know what we need to do to shut them down. It will be a very exciting game and I can’t wait.”