Raiders calm the Storm

A midfield masterclass from Simon Buchler, capped with a late deserved goal, was the catalyst for an impressive away win for Raiders.



A midfield masterclass from Simon Buchler, capped with a late deserved goal, was the catalyst for an impressive away win for Raiders. The result means the boys from Brunel are the only remaining MSFL team with a 100 per cent record.

On an unseasonably warm sunny morning at the Hertswood Academy in Borehamwood, Raiders started quickly, taking under 60 seconds to force the Blizzard keeper in to a super save. Rafi Addelstone slid the ball in to Josh Green, the lively forward laid the ball off first time to Jeremy Elster who in turn immediately fed Nick Woolf. Woolf’s shot was arrowing goalward only to be turned behind for a corner.

The ensuing dead ball from Danny Bloom caused havoc with the keeper again being forced to tip over. This set the tone for a first half of incessant Raiders pressure, punctuated with rapid breaks from Blizzard – neither of which produced a breakthrough.

Raiders started the second period strongly and took a deserved lead after 51 minutes. With the ball worked wide left after a series of short passes across the midfield, Bloom again fizzed in a low cross which was met by David Esterkin, the midfield dynamo making no mistake planting his finish firmly in to the back of the net.

Esterkin was in typically all action mode, no sooner crunching in to tackles that breaking forward to support the strikers. His midfield partners Jeremy Elster and Buchler were having similarly influential games, something manager Jonathan Adelman described as "remarkable given Esti and Jez were making their first appearances of the season, and Si his first start".

The goal opened up the game, with Blizzard surging forward seeking the equaliser. The extra space allowed the pace of Green and Woolf to pull holes in the maroon defence and on 58 minutes another slick one-touch move ended with Green flashing a glorious cross in from the right for the onrushing Bloom who gleefully slotted home. The Bloom, Bloom combination down the left was having an excellent afternoon for Raiders with namesake by no relation Richard Bloom proving at the back again.

Blizzard upped the efforts again and in the space of 15 minutes Ben Sheldon, who was deputising for the absent David Simnock, made a series of smart saves, including expertly tipping over a long-ranger destined for the top corner before pulling off a reaction double save at his near post.

Elster was replaced by Andrew McMaster and Addlestone by Mayer Shultz as Raiders sought to bring in fresh legs. Meanwhile, at the back, skipper Josh Fineman and the never rushed Gilad Kestenbaum put their foot in where needed to keep the Storm at bay.

With two minutes to go the points were emphatically wrapped up by Buchler. Again a slick one-touch passing move down the right involving McMaster, Schultz and Green ended with the striker picking out the Paulihno’esq late run to the far post from Buchler who tucked the ball home to seal a man-of-the-match display that had been full of poise, guile and workrate.

L'Orange are now the only team in the entire league with a 100 per cent record. Manager Jonathan Adelman told JC Sport: "Although we were good value for the win, the scoreline probably flatters us a little. Ben Sheldon made a series of saves to ensure we kept a clean sheet, without them it could have been a very different story.

"No-one in Orange is getting carried away - it's great to be the last remaining 100 per cent team in the entire league, but we know that next week against FC Team C will be very tough.

"All we can do is keep improving and whereas last week against Redbridge we had to battle and scrap for the win, today we were able to ally our workrate with some beautiful one touch passing."

Blizzard boss Simon Linden told JC Sport: "Raiders have to be the favourtites to win this league. I was encouraged by our first-half performance, coming in at 0-0. Second half, once they scored they took control. On another day we may have got ourselves back in the game as we did have some chances."

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