London Raiders rally to make point
PUBLISHED: 07:59 13 March 2017
Oxford City Stars 4 London Raiders 4
London Raiders ended the regular National League Division One season on a high after snatching a point in the closing seconds at Oxford last night.
Beaten 3-0 by Streatham in their last home match of the campaign on Saturday, Raiders found themselves 4-1 behind in the university city going into the final period.
But they mounted a stunning comeback, capped by Alan Lack’s equalising goal with 11 seconds remaining to grab a share of the spoils and whet the appetite for the play-off meetings between these two sides on the weekend of March 25-26.
Raiders were again without JJ Pitchley, Matt France and back-up goalie Harry Buckingham and fell behind in front of a four-figure crowd with only 23 seconds gone as Jesse Lye beat Euan King.
But they got back on level terms in the 12th minute through Lack’s first goal of the night, during a spell of 4-on-4 as he fired over the glove hand of Mark Duffy from Slavomir Buda’s nice pass.
The second period was only 83 seconds old when Oxford regained the lead through Joshua Oliver and two more goals in a 59-second span from Alan Green and Ben Paynter put the home side firmly in control.
But Raiders, beaten 9-3 on their previous visit to Oxford in late October, dug deep to ensure they did not finish empty-handed this time.
A high-sticking penalty against Jason Ikin and slashing minor against Green gave the visitors 1:48 of 5-on-3 and captain Tom Davis capitalised on the powerplay to claim his side’s second goal, assisted by defencemen John Connolly and Andy Munroe.
And Davis struck again two minutes later, assisted by Stewart Tait and King, to make it a one-goal game and force Oxford to call a timeout.
The home side protected their slender advantage until the final minute when, after pulling goalie King for an extra skater with a face-off in the offensive zone, Raiders saw Lack deflect Buda’s effort past Duffy to tie it up in the closing seconds.
Davis took the man of the match award for Raiders, who end the campaign in fifth place and will face Oxford again in a fortnight’s time in the first round of the play-offs.
Scorers, Oxford: Ben Paynter 1+1 Alan Green 1+1 Joshua Oliver 1 Jesse Lye 1 Brendan Baird 0+2.
Raiders: Tom Davis 2 Alan Lack 2 Slavomir Buda* 0+2 John Connolly 0+1 Andy Munroe 0+1 Stewart Tait 0+1 Euan King 0+1.
Penalty minutes: Oxford 10 Raiders 2.
Shots on goal: Mark Duffy (O) 8-6-12=26-4 Euan King (L) 9-18-10=37-4.
Referee: Blaine Evans.