MGBSFL DIVISION TWO
FC TEAM B 3 NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS B 4
A gritty fightback from Raiders saw the Orangemen come back from 3-2 down to nab two late goals and take all three points back to Brunel.
JC star man Nicky Woolf (2), Gilad Kestenbaum and Andrew McMaster saw L'Orange home.
Despite considerable local rainfall over the preceding days, a lush firm surface greeted the Raiders players as they arrived at Old Camdenians on a crisp sunny morning. Raiders made two changes from the win against AC Mill Hill, Jonny Blain’s knee injury saw him replaced by Woolf, whilst Rob Samuelson earned a start on the left with opening week goal-scorer Andrew McMaster on the bench and Danny Bloom starting the game in the centre of midfield.
With confidence flowing following that opening day victory, Raiders were quickly in to their stride and the opening goal, when it came on 11 minutes, was a thing of beauty. A quick combination of passing at the back saw Toby Katz receive the ball midway inside his own half, with a drop of the shoulder and a soft shoe-shuffle he evaded three FC Team midfielders, drove in to the Team half and slid a precise ball in to the path of Woolf. The prolific marksman, now restored to a central striking role, allowed the ball to roll across him before sweeping the ball up and over the keeper in to the roof of the net from 20 yards.
Despite the good start, Raiders were sloppy in possession and with the wind picking up they often struggled to clear their lines, inviting pressure from the home side. From one such incident Team won an 18th minute corner. The delivery was deep to the far post and although met by a Raiders head the ball went back in to the danger area where it was headed home past David Simnock by Freddie Marks.
Raiders took the lead again on the half hour mark. Woolf won a corner which Adam Posner swung in with pace. Kestenbaum evaded his marker to plant a firm near post header in to the net.
Once again Raiders failed to hold the advantage for more than a few minutes. A long 35th minute ball out of defence from FC Team saw Raider’s centre back Jonathan Shapiro tussle with Mitch Lassman, when the ball fell loose the striker looked up and smashed a 40-yard shot over Simnock who was stranded on the edge of his box.
The second half continued in much the same pattern as the first, the game becoming ever more scrappy as blustery wind and drizzle set in. Just before the hour Raiders were caught, not for the first time, trying to play out of the back. As Team swept in a right wing cross Lassman tumbled in close proximity to Richard Bloom and to the surprise of most in the ground a penalty was awarded. Bloom, protesting his innocence, was given a yellow. The penalty was confidently dispatched by Lassman to give FC Team the lead for the first time in the contest.
Raiders manager Jonathan Adelman responded with a double change. McMaster and Simon Buchler were introduced for Samuelson and Katz respectively. Bloom moved out to the left and Kestenbaum dropped in to a deeper central role. The penalty seemed to jolt Raiders in to action, and they took the game by the scruff of the neck. Passes were crisper, tackles were made and pressure was building as wave after wave of orange attack rained down on the FC Team goal, Buchler in particular was finding space in dangerous areas. Something had to give, eventually it did, and it was worth waiting for!
A deep ball in to the box was fed out to McMaster by Posner; the tall midfielder barely allowed the ball to bounce before hammering a rasping right-footed effort across goal in to the bottom left hand corner from fully 25 yards to the delight of the travelling fans.
With parity restored, Raiders scented victory. Rafi Addelstone saw a piledriver of a volley blocked when it seemed destined to rip the net from the stanchion. With just four minutes remaining it was Addlestone who was scythed down 30 yards from goal on the right hand side. Skipper Posner, with five assists to his name already this season, capped another outstanding performance with a devilish delivery which was cleared only as far as Woolf on the edge of the box, the Raiders veteran rammed his right foot volley first time across the keeper and in to the bottom right hand corner. The striker wheeled away in ecstasy before being mobbed by his teammates to celebrate what was ultimately the sweetest of winners.
Adelman felt his team showed exceptional character. “I felt we were pretty sloppy at times but with defeat staring us between the eyes the boys really stepped up a level and in the end I felt we just about deserved to win a really good game of football.
"It’s still early days for this team but we’ve scored nine in two games and today we showed we are able to dig deep to get a result.”