It's legs 11 as NLR B clinch promotion

By Danny Caro, February 9, 2014
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MGBSFL DIVISION TWO
LONDON HAROLDEANS 3 NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS B 11

Raiders B went goal crazy to seal promotion to the first division in style. With Redbridge B and FC Team C still to play each other, Raiders cannot finish any lower than second and if they can secure a win in their final game against FC Team C, they will win the league and secure an unbeaten league season.

Raiders were dealt a double blow pre-match, with Mike Hershman ruled out with a hamstring strain and keeper David Simnock unavailable. With usual stand-in keeper Ben Sheldon away it was left to veteran midfielder Jonathan Shapiro to don the gloves. Shapiro kept a clean sheet before handing over the gloves to Joe Tankel after 50 minutes by which time Raiders were quite incredibly 8-0 up! Shapiro taking Tankel’s spot at centre-back.

In an end-to-end game heavily influenced by the gusting wind, Raiders hit their stride early with some excellent one-touch passing between Adam Posner and the returning Gilad Kestenbaum and Simon Buchler. It was Buchler who gave Raiders the lead after 11 minutes, a long throw from Anthony Goodmaker went all the way through to Nicky Woolf on the far side of the box, he laid the ball back to the midfielder who whipped in a cross shot which picked up pace on the wind and flew in to the top corner.

It should have been two just moments later as the Haroldeans' keeper pulled off a sensational series of saves tipping a Posner pile-driver on to the bar before making a breathtaking reaction save from Tankel ‘s header from the ensuing corner.

Raiders were not to be denied for long and with 14 minutes on the clock Esterkin drove forward, released Posner and the striker made no mistake smashing a shot from the edge of the box which dipped over the keeper before nestling in to the back of the net.

90 seconds later it was three with a scintillating goal of genuine class. Woolf won possession on the half way line before delivering an inch perfect reverse pass down the right wing to Posner whose deft first touch lifted the ball inside and over the full back in to the path of Andrew McMaster on the corner of the area who lashed a left foot volley in to the roof of the net.

Raiders were in no mood to let up and after 25 minutes Esterkin made it 4-0. Woolf won the ball on the half-way line and slid the ball through for the midfield dynamo to burst clear and slot the ball past the keeper.

Eight minutes later Richard Bloom clipped a ball down the line for Woolf who looked up and squared the ball for Esterkin to tap home. Woolf then got in on the act himself, seizing on a poor 35th minute back-pass to round the keeper and make it six.

The seventh came just three minutes later from a long Goodmaker throw down the left wing to Posner who shook off the attention of the full-back, strode in to the box and clipped the ball past the onrushing keeper.

Raiders had stunned Haroldeans with three goals in five minutes, but they weren’t finished and Esterkin, who had snatched a hat-trick when the two teams met in November, repeated the trick when he ran on to a through ball from Posner to finish with aplomb to make it 8-0 at the break.

Raiders replaced Woolf and Posner with Jonny Blain and Sam Isaacs at the break, Danny Bloom also coming on for Esterkin. It was Blain who made it 9-0 with a cool penalty on the hour mark after Buchler was adjudged to have been brought down after breaking clean through. The decision looked harsh from the sidelines, with the Haroldeans’ defender appearing to just nick the ball before contact with the man.

In the 70th minute the men in yellow finally had something to celebrate when a shot from the edge of the box, which may have been destined for the back of the net any way, took a deflection and looped over Tankel.

Raiders responded with a sumptuous 78th minute strike from Richard Bloom. Rob Samuelson won the ball on the left, slipped the ball square for Buchler who teed up Bloom, the centre back taking the ball in his stride before unleashing a thunderbolt in to the back of the net from over 25 yards to make it 10-1.

Straight from the restart Raiders won the ball and Buchler pierced the Haroldeans back line with a glorious pass, Blain didn’t need to break stride as he calmly stroked the ball home for Raiders’ 11th.

Danny Bloom danced through the centre of midfield before releasing Isaacs, but the speedster got underneath the shot and skewed the ball wide.

Haroldeans heads never dropped and they were rewarded with two late goals, the first a crisp finish after a good throughball, the second a calamitous own goal from Danny Bloom after Richard Bloom had headed a corner towards his teammate and namesake!

“We were irresistible today – what a way to clinch promotion” said Raiders manager Jonathan Adelman at the final whistle. ”Some of our football today was delightful, and but for an outstanding display from the Haroldeans keeper it could have been more.

"I’m a little disappointed that we got sloppy at the end of the game and conceded a couple of poor goals, but overall I’ve got to be happy with such a comprehensive win.

"It’s been a hallmark of our season that we don’t rely on any particular individuals with our goals and assists coming from all areas. We now have to finish the job in two weeks against AC Mill Hill.

"At the start of the season we said privately that our aim was to win the league and I challenged the boys to make history by going the league season unbeaten. They’ve been focused on that aim since the first kick of the season and in two weeks time they have the chance to make that dream a reality."

Haroldeans manager Jonathan Abrams told JC Sport: "When you're on a losing streak, getting hammered 1-10 and then 3-11 over the past two games - it's difficult not to sound like a moaner when discussing what went wrong.
Both games we were beaten fairly by better teams.

"Last week, we went into the second half 1-0 up, having had a another goal disallowed, but then we lost our shape in the second half and fell to pieces as a result.

"This game was a different story. In the first half, we were playing against a well-organised team (as yet undefeated) and unfortunately, we lost it in the first half, going 8-0 down at half time.

"The biggest single factor was the wind, which at times made it impossible to clear the ball. We had two or three chances in the first half, but failed to capitalise, while they had about 10 and scored eight.

"The second half was a much more even affair. We had the wind on our side and had about a dozen fairly clear-cut chances but only managed to convert three. They had a handful of chances and also scored three."

Asked for his views on the top three teams in the division, Abrams responded: "It's difficult to say who is the better of the two. I was impressed with NLR organisation on both games. Redbridge had some quality stand-out players. FC Team C would also be up there. All are good passing teams, so it hasn't helped that we've been using 3-G, which helps them more than a slower, grass surface. All are probably premier standard and I'm sure some of their top players will go on to great things in Jewish football."

Last updated: 11:26am, February 10 2014