North West Neasden B 5
North London Raiders 1
Neasden boss Sammy Carr hailed the brilliance of hat-trick hero Ryan Sher whose performance settled the top-of-the table JC MSFL Division One clash at Bricket Wood.
The 2003 Maccabi Player of the Season was the difference between the teams as Neasden leapfrogged Raiders to go top on goal difference.
Carr said: “Ryan had one of the games where every player on the pitch envies his talent. He is a class act and can find passes no one else sees. He scored three and played a part in one other.
“If he can carry this form to the end of the season then we hope to be gaining promotion. He has the ability to turn a game on its head with one or two touches of brilliance.”
Alex Bowman was also a thorn in Raiders’ side, opening the scoring when he latched on to a clearance from keeper Ed Bloom before racing away and poking home from 15 yards.
Neasden were then indebted to Bloom, who produced a brilliant block to deny Jamie Wolfson following great work from Igal Yahya.
Neasden doubled their advantage on the stroke of half time when the Bowman crossed for Sher to tap home.
The major talking point came early in the second half. Raiders striker Yahya was clean through only to be scythed down by Neasden defender Robert Bloch, just outside the box. To protests from Raiders players, referee Laurie Benson decided Bloch had not prevented a clear goal-scoring opportunity and opted for a yellow card. Raiders hit back immediately as Nicky Woolf slotted home the resultant free-kick.
The visitors came close to levelling soon after when Adam Posner neatly played the ball through to Wolfson but he shot just wide of the upright.
The next goal was going to play an important part in the outcome and it was the home side that got it. Having won a corner, Sher rose like a salmon to plant a bullet header from a Bowman corner into the top corner.
It was game over minutes later as Sher and Bowman linked up to release substitute Danny Cohen who slotted home from 10 yards.
Raiders’ morning went from bad to worse five minutes from time when Sher went down under a challenge from debutant Nigel Goldthorpe and Benson pointed to the spot. Sher stepped up to complete his hat-trick by smashing home the penalty.
In the end it was a convincing win for Neasden who on this form will take some stopping. Carr said: “This was a real team performance and it shows that not only can we play pretty football, but when the going gets tough, we can get our heads down and out-muscle teams, something that has definitely been missing in the past.
Raiders joint-manager Adam Fegan said: “Neasden did a job on us. They were efficient and stopped us playing. That is what made the difference.
“We were missing four key players so it was always going to be difficult. We played with spirit and passion, but Neasden took their chances and we didn’t.”
Neasden: Bloom, Bloch, Bookbinder, Fox, Klein, Glynne, Daggers, Krein (sub: Cohen), Hodes, Sher, Bowman
Raiders: Simons, B. Sheldon, Wiseman, Tankel, Goldthorpe, Posner, Wolfson, Shapiro, McMaster, Yahya, Woolf