MGBSFL DIVISION TWO
NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS B 4 ATHLETIC BILBAUM 1
Raiders B took a huge step towards promotion as L’Orange kicked off 2014 with a comprehensive win over Athletic Bilbaum at the Ark.
In securing their 11th maximum of the season, they also moved a step closer to silverware, with the tantilising prospect of a 50 point season if they can win their remaining fixtures.
Any hint of festive season rustiness was blown away as Raiders started with real purpose, taking the lead after just six minutes with Simon Buchler applying the finishing touch to a slick passing move. Jeremy Eslter and Adam Posner exchanged passes before Nicky Woolf slipped in the impressively tanned Buchler whose deft flick over the advancing keeping nestled in the back of the net.
Delighted manager Jonathan Adelman described some of Raider’s play in the first half as "sustained, controlled push and run football" with the metronomic Jonathan Shapiro dictating the game like a quarterback. Chances came and went but the sustained pressure eventually told when a low 18-yard shot from Woolf squirmed under Bilbaum’s reserve keeper Jonathan Adelbaum and inside the near post.
Despite their dominance, Raiders had already seen Jake Gilbert flash a shot wide and after 37 minutes Gilbert halved the deficit latching on to a smart through-ball to score despite the efforts of the otherwise untroubled David Simnock.
Raiders’ response was immediate, sublime and something of a collectors item as Adam Posner scored his first of the season with an audacious lob volley leaving Adelbaum grasping at air as the ball sailed in to the back of the net.
The half time break allowed Bilbaum to re-group with a change of keeper and formation and the second half was a more even end to end affair, with Gilbert again at the fore for the ‘Baums. Raiders’ backline, superbly marshalled by Dan Grossman alongside the impressive Matt Greene and Richard Bloom, stood strong and restricted the visitors to long-distance efforts.
On the hour mark Andrew McMaster and Danny Bloom replaced the tireless Jeremy Elster and Rob Samuelson before C-Team striker prospect Nick Harringman made his B-team debut in place of Buchler. As Raiders adapted to the changes, Posner dropped in to midfield and it was he who opened up the ‘Baum defence for the run of David Esterkin, his piledriver was superbly saved by the replacement keeper.
The win was wrapped up with eight minutes remaining as another one touch passing move ended with Woolf putting Danny Bloom clear and the diminutive winger gave the keeper “the eyes” before rolling the ball home for his second goal in two games.
Jubilant NLR boss Jonathan Adelman told JC Sport: "Despite the added pressure of playing in front of Raider's Life Vice President Rob Richman for the first time this season, the boys put on a great display of passing and possession football particularly in the first half and we scored some lovely goals.
"Credit to Bilbaum - they changed their shape at half time and the second half was end to end. Redbridge and FC Team will have something to say about the title race so we can't rest on our laurels for one moment, but we've put ourselves in a great position to get promoted and we know if we keep working hard we have a chance to win the league."