JC MSFL DIVISION TWO
BRADY MACCABI B 2 NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B 1
After an insipid first half display, Brady B pulled themselves together and triumphed 2-1 over North London Raiders C at the Lane this morning.
The two sides - familiar foes, having already played each other in the league and cup this season, with Brady triumphing 4-1 last weekend, and winning promotion alongside one another last season - started tentatively, but it was Raiders who struck first.
Brady's pre-match preparation was hampered by an injury to goalkeeper David Landau, and before substitute Josh Lewis could make it to Arkley from Oxhey, a speculative free-kick floated in to the net, much to the chagrin of the home faithful.
Indeed, moments later, Brady almost gifted Raiders a second. A block by Ben Hildebrand deflected goalwards, and drew a superb instinctive save from Landau, and the men in orange were unable to make the corner count.
As the half drew to a close, Brady were unable to get into their famed rhythm, looking bereft of ideas and creativity.
Brady needed to change something at half time, and a tactical adjustment provided just the tonic as they fought back. Ditching their customary 4-3-3, Brady adopted a fluid 3-5-2, with new signing Josh Newman coming on in the centre of the park to make his debut for the red half of Rowley Lane.
Indeed, Newman almost made an immediate impact for his new side. A lofted through ball put him beyond the defence, but the ball ran away before he could get it under control. This was, however, a genuine signal of intent from the home side, with the formation change meaning Brady were applying pressure all over the pitch.
It was not long before Brady were level. James Joseph advanced with the ball, and his slide rule through ball played in Daniel Hildebrand who slotted past the goalkeeper into the bottom corner.
Now level, Brady looked confident and went forward in search of a second. Reiss Mogilner came close with a first-time drive after running onto a through ball, but it was through a spot-kick that Brady pulled ahead. Joseph beat his man on the right, progressing into the penalty area, when he was hauled down from behind. He stepped up himself, and struck home amid some confusion from the spectators, as the ball appeared to scuff off the penalty spot, fly into the top corner and through a hole in the net. Though the fans may have been confused, the referee was not, and duly awarded a goal.
Joseph could have added a second to his tally, after superbly taking down a Josh Lewis goal kick, beating a man down the wing, flicking it on to his left, before ballooning the ball high over the bar.
Proceedings took a sour turn for Brady, however, as Daniel Hildebrand was carried off with a potentially serious knee injury as he looked to beat a Raiders defender on the counter. The injury disrupted Brady's momentum slightly, and Raiders began to look for an equaliser.
However, as they tried to get a foothold in the game once again, special mention must go to Michael Beaber in the Brady engine room, breaking up attacks with regularity. Galavanting full-back Ben Hildebrand could have clinched things for Brady late on, as he was slipped through by Newman, but he was unable to sort his feet out as his goalscoring touch deserted him, and the goalkeeper and defender crowded him out.
Raiders applied pressure late on, and came close from a corner with the last attack of the game, but Brady held firm to record a valuable three points in their promotion chase.
Brady captain James Joseph commented after the game that he was proud of the way his team fought back to win. "A couple of times this year we've shot ourselves in the foot with sloppiness and given ourselves an uphill task.
"That was the case today and with the way we played in the first half, we needed to change something. Fair play to our very own tactical mastermind, Johnny Meltzer, because I think the change gave us the kick up the backside we needed."