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League champions start play-off quest

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Sunday

ENL Division 1 Play-offs (5.15pm)

Romford Raiders v MK Thunder

After clinching only the third league title in their 24-year club history last weekend, Raiders turn their attentions to the play-offs.

Danny Marshall’s men skated to a memorable 5-2 win over the Isle of Wight at Rom Valley Way to leapfrog rivals Chelmsford into first place.

And it was the club’s first regular season title since their 1996/97 success under Canadian coach Troy Walkington, having won the Heineken Division Two crown in their inaugural campaign in 1987/88.

Now, with Thunder unable to stage the scheduled first leg of their quarter-final tie on Saturday – and the EIHA deciding to declare it a 0-0 tie – Raiders are just five games away from completing a potential treble this season.

Having lifted the South East Trophy back in January, captain Anthony Leone will get his hands on the league silverware this weekend.

And if Raiders can make the most of home advantage in their one-off encounter, having won all four league meetings by a combined score of 33-4, they will face the winners of the Cardiff-Invicta tie in the semi-finals.

Chelmsford and the Isle of Wight would be expected to meet in the other half of the draw, after seeing off Bracknell and Bristol, and would be climbing over each other to get the chance of another shot at Romford in the play-off final.

But a lot of hockey has to be played yet over the next two weekends before those dreams come reality and Marshall will be taking it ‘one game at a time’ as he looks to write yet another chapter in club history.

Saturday

ENL Division 2 (5.15pm)

Romford Fury v Oxford

Fury will want to set the record straight after falling to a late defeat in the university city last month.

They travelled to Oxford having lost only one of their previous nine matches in a run which raised hopes of a top-three finish.

Oxford had drawn six of eight games before the encounter and looked set to maintain that sequence after cancelling out goals from Sam Roberts and JJ Pitchley.

Then Fury fell foul of the officials in the closing stages and Oxford made them pay on a 5-on-3 powerplay to clinch a 3-2 win.

Romford bounced back with a 10-2 triumph at Slough two weeks ago, before being forced to cancel their home meeting with the Isle of Wight due to licensing issues at Rom Valley Way.

And they will certainly want to add another two points to their tally before their Essex derby against Chelmsford next weekend.

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