PETER MORRISON TROPHY ROUND THREE
NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS A 3 HEATON PARK ROVERS 0
Second-half strikes from David Dinkin, Dan Grossman and Matt Stock steered treble-chasing NLR into the fourth round of the National Cup after they held off a determined HPR at Brunel.
On another Sunday almost totally wiped-out by the weather, the Premier Division leaders took a weekend off from their league schedule to welcome Heaton Park Rovers down to London for the last-16 of the Morrison. Jake Doffman – thought to have broken his ankle on Thursday night in training – made a miraculous comeback to make the starting XI and continue his record as the only ever-present in the Norstar squad.
Despite picking the brains of several club members with Northern knowledge, manager Phil Peters knew very little about Rovers, but knew they would be up for the challenge after more than three hours on the motorway for the afternoon kick-off.
Rovers started brightly, putting pressure on the Raiders defence, but there were very few chances in the first period of the match. On occasion when they were able to breach the home side’s backline, the Rovers striker was thwarted by the fantastic Jake Doffman coming out to claim the ball one-on-one.
Despite Heaton ‘parking the bus’ from there on, it was chance after chance for Norstar, with the woodwork coming to the rescue and the visitors’ keeper making some good saves to keep the title challengers at bay.
With the teams going in at half time 0-0, it seemed only a matter of time before the home team would break through.
At the start of the second half, left-back Justin Spiro popped up on the right wing and his neat pass found Dinkin free on the edge of the box for the in-form striker to slot a Hazard-esque finish into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Heaton did not give up straight away when again the ball was played over the Raiders’ defence to again see Jake Doffman claiming the ball.
Raiders went on to score their second goal not long after, Grossman rising to powerfully head home leaving the keeper with no chance and becoming Raiders’ 19th scorer of the season.
Stock put the icing on the cake with a neat finish into the bottom corner, with Doffman explaining it as a ‘naughty Stocky goal’. You get the same every week from Matt Stock, and he has been able to score goals for fun lately.
Rovers had two great chances to get on the scoresheet in the dying minutes; the first a volley from 25 yards out which was tipped over the bar by man-of-the-match Jake Doffman and the second from a corner that was whipped in viciously to see a Rovers player have a free header which luckily fell straight into Doffman’s hands.
NLR boss Phil Peters told JC Sport: "In the end it was a good performance against a spirited Heaton Park Rovers side. They came with a plan, worked exceptionally hard and we certainly under-estimated them in the first half which we won’t do again.
"But in the end our class told – we reshuffled at the interval and closed the game out in the first 20 minutes of the second half.
"I'm delighted that Jake was back to his best in goal after some interesting performances recently – I’m just pleased he makes saves better than he writes match reports! I think both keepers deserve to be nominated this week.
"We're looking forward to the quarter-finals now, but it’s back to the league where we have three more massive games to try and deliver the Chairman his first Premier Division title. Game on."
HPR boss David Seligman told JC Sport: "Everyone, including ourselves, feared we would be on the end of a drubbing, but that was never the case.
"We left the pitch wondering what could have been. Alex Swift and Harry Roache hit the crossbar with the game goalless. If one of them goes in then it is a different game.
"They are a strong side, but we were never really opened up. We were very organised and they found it hard to break us down.
"Their goals came from two set-pieces and what we thought was an offside goal that went against us.
"There was plenty to take away and if we perform like this every week we would be in with a shout of winning our league.
"We have to take confidence from this and look to use it to our advantage for the Shon Trophy game against Haroldeans on Sunday."