Oxford City Stars face a stern examination of their NIHL1 South title aspirations when they face two other potential challengers this weekend.
The Stars travel to London Raiders on Saturday, before hosting Invicta Dynamos the following day, and all three teams are hopeful of putting pressure on reigning champions Chelmsford Chieftains this season.
Chelmsford currently lead the table by two points from Oxford, with Invicta a further three points adrift but with a game in hand. London are three points behind the Kent outfit, but have played two games less.
Stars’ boss Simon Anderson admitted his team face a difficult weekend, but is particularly wary of Invicta who his team beat on the road earlier this season.
“They’ll be looking for revenge and I think it’ll be a tough game on Saturday for them too – they play Streatham, so if they lose down there they won’t want to lose on Sunday because they’ll start falling behind,” he told Oxford Sports Online.
“We’ve got to be ready – they’re a very good team and (Kevin) Parrish will have them fired up.
“They haven’t lost too many, so we’re going to have to be ready, but we know we can beat them. We went to their place and won, but it doesn’t mean you’re going to just go in and beat them here.
“We’ll have a game plan as always and if we follow it we shouldn’t be too far away.”
London are also in action on Sunday at Solent Devils and know that a four-point weekend would keep them in touch with the top of the table.
Defender John Connolly is pleased with the Raiders’ progress this season.
“We’ve had a couple of good results against some tough teams, but also had some losses where we could have done better,” said Connolly.
“We just need to find consistency and work hard until the end of season to be challenging for silverware.
“This weekend’s games will be tough – we’ll have to be at our best and give 100 percent to have a chance of two wins. We need to play for the whole sixty minutes both nights and not take any shifts off.”
Streatham have boosted their squad ahead of the weekend’s games with the signing two former Wightlink Raiders players – Vaclav Drabek and Alex Sampford.
Bracknell Hornets v MK Thunder
London Raiders v Oxford City Stars
Streatham IHC v Invicta Dynamos
MK Thunder v Streatham IHC
Oxford City Stars v Invicta Dynamos
Solent Devils v London Raiders
Bristol Pitbulls v Cardiff Fire
Chelmsford Warriors v Invicta Mustangs
Peterborough Islanders v Slough Jets
Lee Valley Lions v Haringey Racers
(Image permission: Paul Foster)