MGBSFL PREMIER DIVISION
NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS A 1 HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A 1
Norstar London Raiders A maintained their unbeaten start to the season, but dropped points for the first time as Hendon A held out for a draw at the Ark Academy.
Both teams were lacking several key players for this game – Justin Spiro, Oli Henry, Jonny Kay, Adam Jason and captain David Rhodes were all out for Raiders, however the return of Mike Hershman from injury meant that the league leaders went into the game with a full squad.
Raiders started brightly and had several chances to put themselves in front, with Matt Stock and Ethan Zone looking lively and capitalising on some sluggish defending from the visitors.
However despite the bare bones, Hendon’s core was intact and Ben Kon put them ahead midway through the half after some poor defending from Raiders.
The home side continued to press and should have equalised soon after the goal as Zone again went through with his constant pressuring of the Hendon defence paid off although he was thwarted by a fine stop from the goalkeeper.
The best half of the chance fell to Jamie Wolfson on the stroke of half time although the Raiders winger could not get his shot on target, much to the relief of the Hendon side.
The second half had a similar feel to it, although Hendon now seemed content to sit back and defend their slender lead. Raiders had other ideas however and when Hendon failed to deal with a corner, the ball came back into the box and found centre half Josh Pistol whose sublime finish was worthy of any of the Raiders attack.
The goal rattled Hendon who now had to change their game-plan, and Phil Peters on the Raiders bench decided to go for the jugular injecting some extra guile into the midfield in the shape of Adam Joselyn and bringing speedsters Hershman and Josh Green onto the wings.
This almost paid dividends immediately as Hershman received the ball from wide in the area but couldn’t get his shot away, whilst Green’s quick feet saw him dance into the area but his shot was dealt with easily by the Hendon keeper.
Raiders spent the last 20 minutes camped inside the Hendon half and should have scored a winner minutes from time when birthday-boy Joselyn found himself through on goal but dragged his shot inches wide.
Speaking after the game, Peters told JC Sport: "It shows how far we’ve come as a team that we walk off the pitch devastated about only getting a point against Hendon A. Yes, they were missing some big players, but so were we and it’s frustrating to have only scored once given the numerous chances we created for ourselves.
"Other than their goal, which came about as a result of some shockingly bad defending, they only forced Jake into making one save which is a credit to the hard work and discipline we maintained throughout as any team with Greg, Avidan and Ari driving it forward is hardly going to be a walkover.
"If you’d offered me 13 points from the first 15 available I’d have bitten your hand off before the season started, but now we’re in this fantastic position we must see this as two points lost rather than one gained.
"We've got the basics right, now it’s time to up the ante and work hard on improving our finishing to ensure that we kill off the teams that we dominate like we should have done yesterday."
Hendon boss David Garbacz told JC Sport: "After they levelled we had to defend deep but we're delighted to take a draw."