Special Kay leaves Lions feeling blue
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A stunning free-kick from Jonny Kay helped Raiders extend their 100 per cent record following a hard fought win over the Lions.
Norstar London Raiders A maintained their lead at the top of the Premier Division but had to wait until the 88th minute of the game to secure the three points.
Raiders started strongly, knocking the ball around well but failing to create any clear-cut chances and rarely threatened the visitors’ goal. Lions had the first real opportunity of the match when James Gold was upended, however Sam Arghebant’s powerful effort was magnificently saved by the outstanding Jake Doffman in the Norstar Raiders goal.
The young keeper, on the books of Lions Saturday side, was soon called into action again with a phenomenal finger-tip save denying Max Kyte who rose highest from an Arghebant corner.
But the best was yet to come from Doffman, as Arghebant, who was at the centre of all that was good about Lions’ play, found some space and unleashed a pile-driver from just outside the box that headed towards the bottom corner of the goal. The Lions faithful were starting to celebrate but Doffman had other ideas, throwing himself to his right and pushing the ball out for a corner with a save that he later described as "the best I have done".
Half-time arrived and the home side had Doffman to thank for the score-line still being level.
The second half started much like the first with the Raiders side turning the screw and the Lions’ defence holding strong. Indeed, this was very much a defensive master class from both sides and a nil-nil draw would not have been an unfair outcome.
However, Raiders had other ideas, and the introduction of Adam Jason and Ethan Zone gave them a newfound energy in the final-third, both players eager to show the management why they should have been starting the game, Jason almost finding the goal with a tasty effort from just outside the box.
Alex Bloch was soon brought on for his first game of the season and found himself shifted from his favoured left-back position to centre half after a nasty-looking groin injury to captain David Rhodes.
As Raiders reorganised, Zone continued to be a menace down the left flank and was chopped down twice in quick succession, the second time around 35-yards from the Lions’ goal.
Sensing an opportunity, Kay wrapped his foot around the ball and sent it towards the corridor of uncertainty where it evaded everyone, bouncing once in front of the goalkeeper and then continuing its journey into the roof of the net to put Norstar Raiders 1-0 up with only seconds remaining. Cue ecstasy on the home bench and despair on the visitors’.
Norstar Raiders manager Phil Peters was clearly delighted with the result: “Three wins from three was the first mini-target we set ourselves at the start of the season once we’d seen the fixtures and obviously I’m delighted that the boys have delivered on that.
"In truth it was a game that neither side deserved to lose as both teams defended fantastically well, however when Jake pulled off that final save just before half time I sensed it was going to be our day. However, with five minutes to go, as we continued to up the pressure I did feel we may have run out of time.
"But credit to my players who showed this week and last week that we’ll fight for 90 minutes plus and never give up. That kind of work ethic has been instilled since day one and seeing my four injured players at the game supporting the team shows what a great buzz there is about the place at the moment.
"We can play much better than we did today. Too much of our hard work came to nothing and we were too sloppy in the final third. We didn’t create enough chances and really didn’t get going until the final 30 minutes.
"Jonny's goal was fantastic, putting the ball exactly where it would cause the most confusion. He’s clearly been benefiting from the free-kick classes I’ve been giving him. But if we’re going to talk about individuals today then we can’t really look much further that Jake Doffman for as complete a goalkeeping performance as you are ever likely to see in amateur football.
"We have a tough run of games coming up now but I’m confident we’ll continue to raise our performance level and look forward to locking horns with Brady next week. Who knows when this winning run will end but we’re enjoying it while it lasts and are delighted to be top of the tree at Sukkos – hopefully our results will continue to be just as fruitful."
LML boss Jamie Kyte told JC Sport: "It was a hard fought battle dominated by the rock solid defences. And unfortunately only ours was breached."
"An improvement on last week's performance and that's all we could ask for. We're going to work on certain aspects of our game at training and hopefully we'll bring that into the next couple of weeks fixtures."