North London Raiders go top of League 2
Elliot Espinoza proved the matchwinner as North London Raiders B went top of Division Two following a see-saw encounter against London Maccabi Lions C at Rowley Lane.
With his side trailing to an early volley from Sam Rosenthal, Espinoza delivered the first of three moments of magic, levelling on 17 minutes with a stunning 25-yard volley after Lions had failed to clear their lines.
With Raiders starting to open up a makeshift Lions defence, Mike Hershman found space on the right to try his luck with a cross-shot. The strike proved too good for Lions keeper James Castle who made a hash of the effort and allowed the ball to cross the line.
Fortunately, David Dinkin got his teammate out of jail, breaking down the wing to place a cool finish around David Simnock to ensure the scores were level at the break.
The second half started brightly with Dinkin, Lions’ best player, latching on to a through ball and seeing his lob come back off the underside of the bar. It proved crucial as Espinoza put Raiders in front midway through the half with a composed right-footed finish after James Hesselberg played him in with a brilliant clipped pass.
Lions tried to force another equaliser but influential Dinkin was denied by a smart save from the ever-alert Simnock.Espinoza was again at the heart of his team’s attack as the game drew to a close.
He turned smartly before finding Lewis Blitz who flicked on for substitute David Hildebrand who shot low past Castle’s right hand as the Raiders completed an early season double over their promotion rivals.
The victory was marred by a serious injury to Raiders’ Matt Greene. He needed medical attention after the game and suffered a fractured bone and ligament damage in his knee and shoulder.
Raiders’ coach Robert Richman was upbeat: “We really got in their faces in the second half. We gave too much space to their midfield in the first period so I told them to press more and it worked. We really showed our battling spirit, allied to moments of real class up front.”
Paul Buxton, the Lions player-assistant manager, feels his side suffers from being a “feeder” side for the club’s higher teams. “I’m not complaining but we can’t field a stable line-up because players are moving up and down.”
Raiders: Simnock; Bloom, Blitz, Leveson, Haring; Hershman, Hesselberg, Espinoza, Silver (sub: Green) (sub: Freed); Wolf, Bloom (sub: Hildebrand)
Lions: Castle; Buxton, H Ziff, Savitz, G Levy; S Levy (sub: Alexander), Henry (sub: S Ziff), Rosenthal, Rosenblatt; Binstock, Dinkin