MGBSFL DIVISION TWO
NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS B 8 LONDON HAROLDEANS 0
Raiders B romped to a comprehensive win over London Haroldeans at the Ark to stretch their unbeaten start to the league season to an impressive five wins and a draw. The Orangemen are now one of only two sides who are yet to be beaten across the four divisions, the other being Raiders’ A team.
However, not getting carried away with their start, manager Jonathan Adelman said: "Results wise I couldn’t be happier with our start to the league season, but I do think we can continue to improve. Likewise, it’s way too early to talk about titles or promotion. We’ve had a great start but so have a few others.
"We’re just focused on our next game on Sunday against Bilbaum - they also had a great result today so I’m sure we’re in for a tough game against them."
Up against a side who face a struggle against relegation this season, any hopes Haroldeans had of pulling off an upset seemed to evaporate with the depleted squad they had to field. And if that wasn’t enough, they got off to the worst possible start on the pitch when Raiders’ star striker Nick Woolf, wearing the captain’s armband for the day, opened the scoring with a low-driven shot from just inside the box with just 40 seconds on the clock after a neat through ball from Rafi Addlestone.
The lead was doubled on 19 minutes. Midfield dynamo Jeremy Elster was felled on the edge of box after a typically bustling run. Woolf whipped a dipping and curling free kick on to the underside of the bar, and with some players static watching the ball bounce close to the line, David Esterkin was first to the action to bundle home.
A minute later the game was effectively over as a contest, a slick one-touch passing move involving Addlestone, Esterkin and Mike Hershman ended with a delightful chipped pass from Simon Buchler in to Woolf who tucked away his second and Raiders’ third.
Woolf though he had his hatrick just two minutes later, bending another free-kick against the angle of post and bar, this time the Haroldean’s defence cleared the danger.
The game was not one-way traffic and Oli Joseph forced Ben Sheldon in to a superb save, tipping the ball over from a devilish 30 yard effort. Woolf then had another chance to get the match ball after Anthony Goodmaker strode out of defence before releasing Hershman, his pinpoint cross found the striker whose vicious volley was beaten away by the Haroldean’s keeper.
Hershman, making his return from a hamstring injury, looked sharp and lively in the second striker role and it was his darting run down the right edge of the box that led to the fourth after 42 minutes. The fleet-footed winger crashed his shot against the post only to see the ball rebound back off the unfortunate Darren Witcoop and into the net.
At half time the Raiders team were reminded that the game was far from over and, encouraged to ram home their advantage in the opening minutes of the second half, they did just that. The fifth when it came in the 55th minute was special, Rob Samuelson marauding down the left, dropped his shoulder cut inside and then smashed the ball in to the roof of the net with his left foot.
The goal prompted a double change for the home side, with Elster and Addlestone replaced by Sam Isaacs and Andrew McMaster. McMaster was straight in to the thick of the action, pressing Haroldeans back and winning tackle after tackle, but it was Isaacs, full of pace and running, who on the hour mark released Hershman down the right, he roasted the full back before floating a cross to the far post where Esterkin met the ball with a diving header.
Three minutes later Esterkin had his hat-trick, Woolf this time the provider, sliding his cut back in to the path of the midfield machine who calmly sidefooted home. Esterkin was promptly replaced by Gilad Kestenbaum who slotted in to centre midfield.
Having opened the scoring, Woolf then wrapped it up when he was allowed to turn on the penalty spot to fire home on 72 minutes after another cross from Hershman.
Speaking about his side’s performance, Adelman said: "I was delighted with the response of the boys after our lost to Los Blancos in our last game. We got back to the controlled passing game we like to play and created a plethora of chances.
"We promised Danny Bloom that we’d give him the best wedding present today so I’m delighted that he and Melissa could tie the knot free from any guilt about arranging their nuptials mid-season!
"All credit to Haroldeans, I know they had a tough job getting a team out today but unlike others they didn’t pull out of the game and they forced Ben Sheldon in to a number of great saves."
And reflecting on the margin of victory, he said: "I don’t think you ever wake up on a Sunday morning and envisage a win by that kind of margin, but I think we have a great group of lads and I’ve felt for a while that as and when we gel, we could be pretty tasty.
"I was also pleased at how we retained possession for long spells when we went down to 10 men after Sam Isaacs picked up a nasty injury after being accidentally stood on – fortunately his burst blood vessel and muscle damage to his hand should see him back in contention in a few weeks."
Goals: - Woolf 1, 20, 72, Esterkin 19, 60, 63, OG 42, Samuelson 55