Raiders relishing fresh start
PUBLISHED: 12:00 03 January 2014
Buckman wants to start 2014 with a bang
Raiders captain Jason Buckman wants his side to start 2014 with a bang, having ended last year with three successive defeats.
Home and away losses to derby rivals Chelmsford last weekend followed a 5-1 defeat against the Isle of Wight at Lee Valley just before Christmas.
And Raiders welcome their namesakes back to east London looking to lay down a marker tomorrow (Saturday, 5.30pm).
Buckman said: “We owe then from the loss before Christmas. They’re the only ‘top four’ team we haven’t taken points off yet, so it would be a good way to start 2014.
“But I think we have to be realistic and understand our position and potential as a team.
“We won’t win the league this year but we have to get ourselves into a position for the play-offs and in a mindset that we have shown we can beat anybody above us in the league on any given day, and nobody will want to meet us post-eason.”
Raiders were left to rue a poor first-period spell against the Chieftains in the National League Challenge Cup, which saw them concede four times in under eight minutes.
Tom Davis replied with the only goal of the middle period, only for former Raider Matt Turner to seal a 5-1 win for the visitors.
It was a different story in the return meeting the following night as Grant Taylor and Billy Phillips netted in the opening session to put Raiders 2-0 up at the Riverside Arena.
Chieftains hit back with four unanswered goals, before Phillips grabbed his second of the night to raise hopes.
Gary Clarke’s 59th-minute effort wrapped up a 5-3 Chelmsford win, though, and Buckman said: “It was a difficult weekend. We had numerous players out with sickness and Dwayne Newman out through work.
“Saturday’s game was a strange performance. We didn’t have any training over Christmas so I think Chieftains caught us cold in the first period going four goals up.
“Once we got into the game, winning the second period, we started to build a bit of momentum, but going into the third we ran into a bit of penalty trouble and with a short bench that was always going to take it’s toll.
“Sunday’s game we were up comfortably 2-0 and controlling the tempo, but again we ran into penalty trouble.
“With four defencemen and two lines of forwards we tired quickly and Chieftains took advantage. By the third period we were pretty much running on empty after the effort in the last two periods of Saturday and the first period Sunday evening.”
Nonetheless, despite the double defeat, Buckman remains confident of future success against their fierce rivals.
He said: “It’s no surprise the games between us are tight, tense feisty games, so it’s good to see we can compete even with a shortened bench.
“Hopefully when we meet again towards the end of March we can cause an upset with them pushing for the title.”