Dinkin makes wasteful Masters pay the penalty

Dan Shafron admits fortune smiled on his side as North London Raiders A reached the final of the Peter Morrison Trophy after a titanic scrap against a star-studded Lions team.





Had it not been for the heroics of NLR goalkeeper Jake Doffman, the Lions would have been out of sight before half-time. At times it was Doffman against striker Paul Hakim, but on each occasion Doffman came up with all the right answers, pulling off save after save. It was an inspired performance from the stopper who played such a significant role in L'Orange winning the double last season.

NLR’s league season has been hampered by injuries to key players. They look set for fourth place, but Shafron is delighted the team has reached the Jewish FA Cup final in his first season in charge.



Shafron said: “I was very pleased with our performance. We were disciplined and worked incredibly hard.

“The Masters had a lot of quality all over the pitch and had some good chances to score in the first half. We took more control of the game in the second half and I'm delighted for the boys. 

“We rode our luck in the first half. In games like this, the occasion can get the better of you. We took a while to settle in to the game, far longer than I anticipated, but when we did, we played some excellent football and had some good chances to extend our lead. 

Doffman was called into action as early as the seventh minute. Lee Cash found himself in space in the penalty area and lashed a volley goalwards, but Doffman stood big and showed great reflexes to push the shot away.

The next opportunity fell to Saul Conway. After beating the last defender he raced through on goal but the onrushing Doffman was grateful for a heavy touch and dived bravely at his feet to avert the danger.  

NLR captain David Rhodes and Alex Bloch were also working tirelessly to stop wave after wave of attacks down both flanks, while Liron Mannie and Matt Stock were threatening on the counter-attack.

Raiders were being pushed further back and defender Mark Addis was next to test the reflexes of Doffman who did well to push out his powerful diving header.

Sam Sloma, Craig Pearl, Alex Levack and Cash were linking up well in midfield and they set up another chance for Hakim who scuffed his shot wide from close range.

Then came the game’s biggest talking point. From a rare first-half attack, Nick Lewis went down in the penalty area and referee Andy Myerson pointed to the penalty spot. David Dinkin was the coolest man at Rowley Lane, smashing his spot-kick into the top right-hand corner.

It was now a test of character for a Lions team who had fallen behind for the first time in the competition. The spurned another great chance at the start of the second half when more good work from Conway saw him find Hakim, but the striker sliced his shot the wrong side of the post.

The same pairing combined again minutes later, but this time Doffman produced a smart save to keep NLR’s lead intact.

Raiders introduced some fresh legs, with the lively Alex Moss working hard to keep the Lions at arm’s length. The game started to get stretched, and Mannie, who had been a thorn in Lions’ side all morning, tried to kill off the tie, forcing a brilliant save from Corin.

The Lions ran out of ideas and they ran out of steam and failed to build up a head of steam in the closing minutes as Raiders celebrated at the final whistle.

“Defensively we were superb,” said a delighted Shafron. “We set up well and played with good shape and structure. We made a couple of tactical changes to nullify their threats and the boys that came off the bench added a huge amount of pace and energy.

“Overall, Doffman was unbelievable today. He had an outstanding game as did Rhodesy and Blochy who were both immense.”

Raiders will meet South Manchester Sports Club in the cup final on May 7. Shafron commented: “Getting to the final means a lot to all of us at the club. We've had a challenging cup run playing against very good opposition in every round.

“Today was definitely our hardest test against a great group who I'm sure will have an excellent chance of winning gold at the Maccabiah. My boys deserve to enjoy this moment.

“We will now start preparing for the final. Logistically there's a lot that needs to be organised and we are already in the process of making necessary arrangements.

“We've also got our last two league games before the final and we want to finish our league campaign as strongly as possible. Momentum and staying sharp is important and I want us to keep up our good run of performances.

“I saw South Manchester in their semi-final last week. They are a good side and we will certainty need to be at our best if we are to come home with the trophy.”

Lions manager Dan Jacobs described himself as “perplexed” about the penalty decision. He told JC Sport: “I’m not sure how a foul can be given for a trip on the ground when the ball is eight feet in the air and the defender has eyes for that only, but those are the breaks and there’s simply no mileage in dwelling on it.  We will get worse I’m sure in Israel! 

“But that one poor decision is not why we lost.  Without playing to the standards we set ourselves, we still created enough chances to have been three or four up by that stage; the fact we weren’t is down to us and us only.

“That their keeper was man-of-the-match and that their first shot in anger against us (other than the penalty) came 15 minutes from time tells the story.  A game we should have won; hope the bitter taste is one that drives us on come the summer.”

LIONS: Corin, Gold, Morris, Addis, Myeroff, Levack, Cash, Pearl, Conway, Hakim, Sloma (capt). Subs: Daggers, Lenchner, Bentley, Stolerman, G Gold.

RAIDERS: Doffman, Morris, Rhodes, Bloch, Cohen, Kay, Joselyn, Stock, Mannie, Dinkin, Lewis. Subs: Moss, Wagner, Nezri, Nathan, Rochwerger

SCORER: Dinkin 40

MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Jake Doffman (Raiders)

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