MGBSFL DIVISION TWO
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE B 1 NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS B 2
A “worldy” from Nicky Woolf, his 94th goal for the club, was enough to secure a hard fought win for Raiders over Redbridge at a bright and chilly Fairlop.
Raiders came in to the game decimated by injury and absence with the likes of Gilad Kestenbaum, David Esterkin, Simon Buchler, Toby Katz, Matt Greene, Joe Tankel and Jonny Blain all missing. The ensuing reshuffle saw Sam Isaacs given a first start of the season, the speedster partnering Woolf up front. Jonathan Peters slotted in to the midfield alongside Adam Posner, with Andrew McMaster and skipper Josh Fineman also getting starts following their contributions off the bench in Raiders' previous game, the 4-3 thriller at FC Team B.
Redbridge, full of youthful verve encapsulated by the talented Sam and Nathan Sollosi, started with an attacking 4-3-3 formation, with the experienced Darren Brown marshaling the Essexmen at the back.
The home side started strongly and in truth never let up, but a combination of wayward finishing, bodies on the line defending and smart handling from David Simnock in the Raiders goal meant that they only breached the Raiders defence once, for what proved to be an 83rd minute consolation goal scrambled in by a deflection.
By that time Raiders had a two-goal lead. The opener came on 26 minutes from Isaacs. Raiders broke out of defence and Rafi Addlestone’s raking diagonal ball from the right evaded both Brown and Woolf, but Isaacs was alive to the opportunity, nipped in and deftly flicked home over Matt Kemp.
Isaacs sadly limped off with a hamstring injury just minutes later to be replaced by Jonathan Shapiro, with Adam Posner moving to a more forward role. Other than picking the ball out of the net and a smart save from a Woolf free kick, Kemp was by and large a bystander in the opening period as Redbridge probed but could not breach the orange barricades.
A stern half time talking to from manager Jonathan Adelman seemed to have a brief but immediate impact as Raiders lead was doubled within 60 seconds of the restart. Addlestone was again the provider, feeding Woolf who controlled the ball on his chest back to goal just inside the box, before swiveling on a sixpence and hammering a rasping drive in to the top corner with such ferocity that Kemp barely moved.
Just a minute late the game should have been out of sight as Shapiro seized on a poor pass out of the Redbridge defence to release Woolf. The striker skipped past two lunging challenges but with the goal at his mercy his drive just went past the outside of the post.
Redbridge responded with yet another spell of sustained pressure but despite possession and a flurry of crosses, Simnock just had routine efforts from distance to mop up, which he did with customarily safe hands. Josh Fineman, Anthony Goodmaker and the outstanding Richard Bloom were immense at the back for Raiders, repelling attack after attack with various limbs and heads!
With Redbridge pushing forward, Raiders struggled to clear their lines when a little more composure might have gifted opportunities on the break. On 65 minutes Posner released Woolf whose cross shot was met at the far post by Danny Bloom but his piledriver was repelled by a wonderful save from Kemp. That was Raider’s last attack of note as Redbridge continued to look for a way back in to the game.
Rob Samuelson replaced McMaster as Raiders legs grew heavy but despite that 83rd minute consolation from Darren Brown, Raiders held on for the grittiest and most determined of three points which keeps their 100 per cent record intact.
The late consolation did not lead to the equaliser that was the very least Redbridge deserved, according to Jacobs, but still a very good performance by this Redbridge team.
Raiders boss Jonathan Adelman told JC Sport: “All credit to Redbridge - they stopped us playing our normal passing game, and with Sam and Nathan they have two players of wonderful dimensions. But on days like this you just need to get the job done and we showed outstanding resilience to bring the three points back round the North Circular with us, especially after our game plan was impacted by Sam’s injury.
"At the end of the day we were clinical with our chances and Nicky Woolf’s goal was worthy of winning any game of football.”
But the RJC boss refused to credit L'Orange for what he described as an "effective smash and grab performance".
Jacobs told JC Sport: "It takes all sorts of formations to win games but Raiders effective "hoof-ball tactics" were too much for the slick passing Redbridge today. In a game totally dominated by Redbridge, two chances fell to Raiders - one following a defensive error and the other a fine turn and shot by the Raiders forward "who seemingly was the only Raiders player able to play with the ball on the ground".
"Smash and grab is an understatement. If it was a boxing match, Raiders would have lost by a unanimous decision.
"The Twitter correspondent for Redbridge asked the Raiders manager for a comment about their tactics and said that their training sessions must be interesting. He replied “What training sessions?“
"I feel sorry for the ball , it was smashed so hard and high by Raiders, it needed a Parecetomol at the end.
"Redbridge will be true to their tradition of passing and possession football - win, lose or draw and will not adopt the “ugly” tactics of hoofball so loved by Stoke City."
Adelman described as “churlish” some of the post-match comment on social media from the Redbridge camp. “No-one likes to lose games of football, especially when they have dominated possession. When they look back on the game I'm sure they will reflect that it was us who created the few clear-cut opportunities and their keeper who made the two saves of note in the game.
"From our perspective, I felt we showed a real winning mentality today and that will serve us well over the campaign.”