MGBSFL PREMIER DIVISION
NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS A 3 CAMDEN PARK 1
Norstar London Raiders A pulled further away from the chasing pack as they beat relegation-threatened Camden Park 3-1 at the Ark.
With the weather once again playing havoc with the fixtures, it was left to the league leaders to keep the pressure on their rivals with the pristine artificial surface in Wembley glistening in the first sunshine of 2014.
The opening stages were fairly cagey, with neither side prepared to make a mistake. The home side looked to control the game, with the returning Adam Joselyn slotting into a midfield three alongside Jonny Kay and Elliot Espinoza, whilst the fine ball-players at the heart of the Camden defence looked to thread the ball through any gaps they could.
It was Raiders who forged ahead though, 20 minutes into the game, with David Dinkin playing a lovely through ball to Jamie Wolfson who lofted the ball over the head of the onrushing keeping from just outside the area and into the corner of the net for his fifth of the season.
The visitors were noticeably rattled but regained their composure to equalise soon after. A needless foul given away just over the halfway line allowed the ball to be floated in and bundled over the line by Max Saunders, despite the protestations of Raiders keeper Jake Doffman who claimed to have been fouled – a decision for which the referee apologised and admitted his mistake at half-time.
As half-time approach, the game was delicately poised - Camden starting to create more in midfield although lacking a cutting edge in the final third. That said, they almost went ahead on the stroke of half-time but for an outstanding goal-line from the imperious Raiders skipper David Rhodes.
The turning point in the match came soon after the break when Matt Stock was moved up front in order to threaten the visitor’s cumbersome backline.
And Stock immediately repaid the manager’s faith in him by latching on to a Wolfson pass, dancing past the helpless centre-half and slotting coolly past the keeper to restore Raiders’ lead.
As the home side continued to turn the screw, the returning Oli Henry was released into the action on the left-wing and seconds later he put the game to bed with a powerful run and fine finish leaving the keeper with no chance yet again.
At the final whistle Raiders were celebrating pulling 17 points clear at the top of the table, albeit having playing several more games than their two title rivals.
Raiders manager Phil Peters praised his side’s resilience: "Since we lost to Brady at the end of last year, we’ve bounced back with five straight wins in 2014 at a time when many of our rivals are having games called off due to the horrific weather we’ve been experiencing.
"All we can do is to continue to win games, put points of the board and lay down the gauntlet to Hendon and Redbridge who still have to play each other twice as well as many other tricky opponents.
"We have a nice cup game next week where we hope to continue our good run of form going. We’re looking forward to welcoming Heaton Park Rovers down to Brunel."
New Camden manager Nick Kagan told JC Sport: "It was a good effort from the boys - we matched Raiders for large parts of the game, but unfortunately had a poor 20 minutes at the beginning of the second half which cost us the game. An improvement on recent games, but we've still got a way to go to turn our form around."