MGBSFL DIVISION TWO
NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B 5 AC MILL HILL 2
Norstar London Raiders B kicked off their 2013/14 league campaign with an ultimately comfortable 5-2 win over Division Two new boys AC Mill Hill.
The new-look Raiders got off to the perfect start with a bizarre own goal gifting them the lead inside the opening minute. Toby Katz met an Adam Posner cross only to see his effort come back off the crossbar, however instead of clearing the danger, the closest AC defender could only divert the ball in to his own, via a diving header.
Raiders dominated the early exchanges with AC struggling to cope with the shape and tempo of the men in Orange. The returning Gilad Kestenbaum and Andrew McMaster dictated play in the middle alongside Katz with Danny Bloom and Rafi Addlestone providing penetration down the flanks. At the other end Jonathan Shapiro, Anthony Goodmaker and Raiders stalwart Richard Bloom kept the back door shut.
Another fluid Raiders move after 20 minutes saw AC concede another corner, and once again they were punished. This time skipper Posner’s delivery was met by a towering header from McMaster, the ball nestling in the net before the keeper could react.
Raiders were now rampant and duly made it 3-0 after 33 minutes. Bloom swept a sublime pass crossfield on to the onrushing Addlestone, who calmly held off a defender, rounded the keeper and tucked home.
AC were stung in to action and a direct throughball on 38 was controlled by Ben Zloof who shrugged off the attention of the Raiders back-line before lashing home from the edge of the box past David Simnock.
The goal boosted AC who came out for the second half in determined mood and pinned Raiders back in the own half all be it without creating a clear-cut chance.
Raiders absorbed the pressure before heading up the other end and duly making it 4-1. Posner received a 52nd-minute right wing throw with his back to goal, holding off his man before laying the ball back to Kestenbaum, the cultured midfielder dropped his shoulder, swayed past two challenges and hammered a left footed effort from 25 yards in to the top corner before wheeling away in delight.
Instead of coasting to victory Raiders made life difficult for themselves with a defensive mix-up leaving Zloof a simple side-foot finish just six minutes later.
Raiders responded with a double change, with Sam Isaacs and Rob Samuelson replacing Kestenbaum and McMaster with Bloom and Posner moving in to central midfield.
AC had loud shouts for a penalty waved away by ref Martin Fox after the ball struck Jonny Blain in the box, but it was Raiders who continued to carve out better chances with Blain twice denied by last gasp blocks and once by a point-blank save before making way for Life Vice President Rob Richman.
As the game drifted towards the final whistle Raiders delivered the coup de grace. A Danny Bloom corner was layed off to Samuelson by Posner, and as the ball dropped out of the sky 20 yards out, the midfielder sent his half volley arrowing in to the bottom corner for his second spectacular strike in successive weeks after his thunderbolt in Raiders’ final pre-season friendly against Lions B.
Raiders manager Jonathan Adelman was delighted with his side’s start to the season. He told JC Sport: "Considering this was our first competitive game together I have to be pleased. We created a lot of chances and at times played some nice slick football.
"We know we have to cut out the errors, but the exciting thing is that we know we can improve."
Mill Hill boss Joe Levy told JC Sport: "We started extremely sluggishly and looked disjointed. We know we are capable of better and hope to show that against Faithfold next week."