Mixed weekend for Raiders as McGrath misses 6-8 weeks

ROMFORD, UK – Romford Raiders overcame the absence of Danny Marshall and Shaun Yardley to defeat league newcomers Solent & Gosport 10-2 on Saturday.
 
Matt Turner and Juraj Huska both scored twice, while makeshift first-liner Jason Buckman seized a rare opportunity to skate at forward with a goal and an assist.
 
Plucky Gosport, winners of last season’s South Division Two title, performed admirably but were never really in danger of causing an upset at Rom Valley Way.
 
Raiders started brightly, Billy Phillips testing Gosport goalie Aaron Taylor from the blueline moments after Turner had fired into the side netting. 
 
Shane Kemp responded in Raiders’ net, twice denying Craig Weedon from close range.
 
Both sides fashioned further openings, though it was Grant Taylor’s conversion from a Tom Davis pass that saw Raiders ahead midway through the opening period. 
 
Turner, AJ Smith and Frankie Harvey combined soon after as Raiders’ ever-dangerous second-line trio threatened to run riot. 
 
Turner’s deft deflection from Harvey’s cross-crease feed fell agonisingly wide of the Gosport goal, before a bloodied Will Francis departed to signal an abrupt end to the first period.
 
Raiders were quick to add to their lead after the resumption though, Turner’s powerplay strike and a Huska backhander creating clear daylight for the home side.
 
Taylor kicked away an AJ Smith wrister after good work by Andrius Kaminskas, before Harvey’s quick release from the right side was impressively gloved down by Gosport’s standout goalie.
 
Kemp continued to frustrate the visitors with fine successive stops on Greg Wyatt and Jamie Fitzpatrick, before Kaminskas and Huska, shorthanded with McGrath sitting a roughing minor, compounded Gosport’s misery with a late-period double.
 
AJ Smith converted from the impressive Ryan Giles to extend Raiders’ lead early in the third, though Weedon’s low shot on the powerplay soon erased hopes of a shutout for Kemp. 
 
Turner quickly made it 7-1 after linking up with Huska and Harvey, but Mitchell Murray’s wrister from the slot saw Gosport answer again as the goals poured in.
 
Davis batted a rebound beyond Taylor’s grasp after Kaminskas had come close again. And Buckman, skating alongside Huska and McGrath on a makeshift first line in Marshall and Yardley‘s absence, tapped home the Slovakian’s centre as Gosport’s collective head finally dropped. 
 
Phillips blasted Raiders’ 10th with just 33 seconds left in the game.
 
Raiders travelled to Chelmsford for Sunday’s South East Trophy clash minus Marshall, Yardley, Grant Taylor and JJ McGrath.
 
Frankie Harvey and Tibor Schneider posted hat-tricks, with Chelmsford taking the spoils 8-6 after an eventful, high-scoring derby clash.
 
Raiders welcome the Invicta Dynamos to Rom Valley Way on Sunday for another South East Trophy clash, while the club has confirmed today that McGrath will miss 6-8 weeks of action after undergoing surgery on a fractured thumb.
 
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