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Double-header will give Lee Valley Lions idea

PUBLISHED: 12:30 15 September 2016

Lee Valley Lions coach George Alley (right) looks on from the bench during his side's opening match of the 2016/17 season (pic: Phil Henderson)

Lee Valley Lions coach George Alley (right) looks on from the bench during his side's opening match of the 2016/17 season (pic: Phil Henderson)

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Coach Alley looking forward to tough tests

Lee Valley Lions coach George Alley believes their National League Division Two double-header this weekend will give them a clear picture of their chances this season.

Lions opened the new campaign with a 5-2 home loss to Swindon in the cup at the start of the month and picked up a league point from a 3-3 draw with Slough Jets last weekend.

Now Alley takes his squad to Peterborough on Saturday, before hosting London rivals Haringey on Sunday, and he expects two tough challenges.

He said: “It’ll give a very good indicator as to how we cope physically, as we’re playing two teams that historically have used the body quite a lot.

“Plus, Saturday will be our first away game so it’ll be good to see how we deal with any bus legs from the drive.

“The league is Peterborough’s to lose. They’re very well drilled and have a lot of depth in their squad, much like Chelmsford last season.

“We ran them close a few times last season, but if we want to be consistent in this league, we need to be competing with Peterborough every time we face off. Especially as we’re playing them six time this season.

“Haringey is a very different type of challenge. Because it’s a derby, players tend to buy into the emotional aspects of the game which I don’t think is the right thing to do.

“Each game is different, but our approach can’t change just because their rink has a London postcode. We have to steer the same course, regardless of our opponents.”

Alley, a former goalie, has retained the core of last season’s squad, having helped out on the bench towards the end of the campaign.

But some few faces have also been added to the roster and he says it is still too early to predict just how well they might do.

He added: “There’s always more work to do. We still need to shoot the puck more and be more confident in possession.

“It will take a few more games before we get an idea of how good the team can be.

“The Slough game was a big step as a team because they’ve now seen they can get points without key players. To play as well as they did without six players should give them a lot of confidence.”

Stand-in captain Matthew Hepburn, deputising for the absent Nick Alley, netted Lee Valley’s first league goal of the new campaign, after Slough had raced into an early 2-0 lead.

And Simon Geldart and Ben Duffy (powerplay) put Lions 3-2 up around the midway mark, before Jets hit back moments later to square matters again.

The scoreline remained unchanged for the remaining 29 minutes, though, as new goalie James Andrew finished with 33 saves.

Alley added: “I felt the first period was probably the worst we’ve played so far, but the team rode out Slough’s pressure and did well to get a goal back.

“From there on I was really happy with how they responded and I think we should have won.

“I was really pleased with certain players’ performances, particularly Matt Hepburn, Ollie Glover, Ross Hidge and Sam Awoyemi. But everyone worked extremely hard and no one backed down at any point, despite being short benched.”

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