Raiders clinch league and cup double

A stunning first-half display from Norstar London Raiders A saw them blow holders Hendon United away at Wingate & Finchley to clinch the Cyril Anekstein Cup as they ended the season in style by completing the double.



A stunning first-half display from Norstar London Raiders A saw them blow Hendon United away at Wingate & Finchley to clinch the Cyril Anekstein Cup as they ended the season in style by completing the double.

Strikes from Liron Mannie, Jordan Marks and Matt Stock helped newly-crowned league champions Raiders storm into a 3-0 lead at the break and although Hendon pulled one back in the second half through Avi Korman, Raiders ran out deserved winners.




Hendon gave a start to captain Ari Last, who has missed the majority of the season through injury, in central midfield, with Simon Peterman forced to settle for a place in the bench. The holders were looking to exact revenge against a Raiders team who had recently beaten them in the league, on their way to the title.

With a strong wind blowing in their favour, Raiders stormed out of the blocks. It was clear they had come out with a point to prove on their return to the Harry Abrahams Stadium having pushed Hendon so close on two fronts last season.

NLR's ambition was evident from minute one after a free-kick by the mercurial Ben Joseph was flicked wide. But they had to wait only until the third minute to open the scoring, when the pacy Matt Stock played in Mannie who produced a clever first-time finish with the outside of his right foot into the bottom corner.

Hendon were shell-shocked as Raiders continued to push them back, with goalkeeper Russell Corin forced into a brilliant reflex save to keep out an effort from Marks.

However, Marks produced a moment of sheer inspiration moments later when he latched on a loose ball around 35 yards from goal and let fly with a speculative effort that dipped deliciously into the top corner to double NLR's advantage. L'Orange were in dreamland.

As the first half reached the midway point, Hendon had still failed to register a shot of note, and they soon found themselves 3-0 down as Mannie engineered the opportunity with a top-class pass to release Stock who outpaced his marker, went round Corin and slotted into an empty net.

Hendon looked a beaten team as they went in for half-time, with manager David Garbacz introducing Ben Kon for his brother, Rafi Kon, at the start of the second half.

Raiders continued to surge forward at the start of the second half, with another precision set-piece from Ben Joseph finding the head of Josh Pistol who was denied by another fine save from Corin, who was keeping Hendon in the game.

Hendon started to improve and good work from David Seitler saw him end a strong run with a dangerous cross that found the head of Avi Korman, who was only able to guide the ball over the angle of post and bar.

Raiders introduced some fresh legs in the shape of Adam Joselyn for the impressive Ricky Engleman, and they were on the attack shortly after when Mannie found himself one-on-one with Corin again, but the Hendon keeper came up trumps once more, pushing his shot wide with his fingertips.

Hendon gave their fans some hope 25 minutes from time when the onrushing Korman produced an excellent diving header, and although NLR keeper Jake Doffman got a hand on the ball, the effort had too much power and crossed the line.

Hendon threw on Simon Peterman for the hard-working Dovi Fehler, who had scraps to feed off in his 70 minutes on the pitch, but the chances continued to come NLR's way.

The Corin-Mannie battle continued, with the latter latching on to another through ball, only to be denied by a smart low save from the Hendon no. 1.

With birthday boy David Rhodes and Justin Spiro in commanding form at the back, Doffman was well protected in goal, with Josh Pistol and Alex Bloch equally dominant in the full-back position, ensuring Hendon talisman Greg Corin had limited impact. Indeed Rhodes was in the thick of it, organising and intercepting, while the tenacious Kay has embodied their drive in recent weeks,

In midfield, Joseph, Engleman and Kay were the dominant force, while Mannie, Stock and Marks threatened going forward and tracked back well.

Hendon pushed NLR back in the closing stages, but NLR came close in the final seconds when the marauding Jonny Kay was taken out on the edge of the area by Ari Last who was cautioned by referee Neil Cooper who blew his whistle for the last time moments later.

NLR's double triumph is as much a success for Rob Richman's excellent work in the transfer market last summer as it is for his tactical nous and his players’ individual abilities and collective willpower. They are a team in the true sense of the word, playing for each other, covering each other’s back.

So what now? Until now, their A-team had always been the bridesmaid. Now there will, no doubt, be the party, both for the team and to mark the birthday of captain David Rhodes, probably involving some Greg Goose, the annual BBQ at chairman Jonathan Adelman's home, laden with sushi, before preparations for next season begin in earnest.

This Raiders success has been coming. They have great leadership in the shape of Rhodes, Spiro and Engleman, pace in Marks, Bloch, Stock and Mannie, and they have age on their side, with a successful B-team and decent C-team.

Jubilant Raiders manager Rob Richman told JC Sport: "We played Hendon six weeks ago to win the league and the hope today was to play to our potential again. We blew them away first half, although the second half was scrappy.

"We didn't have any special plans to mark Hendon's danger men. The message was to knuckle down and be compact.

"The boys deserve their success. They are all top lads on and off the pitch and have worked so hard all season."

Hendon boss David Garbacz admitted "the best team won on the day". He told JC Sport: "NLR's first-half performance was nothing short of sensational. I've never seen us out-fought and out-battled like that.

"Raiders have improved a lot since last season, with Ben Joseph, Matt Stock, Liron Mannie and Jordan Marks making a huge difference.

"We came out in the second half and really gave it a good go, but we've been battling against injuries all season."

Looking ahead to the forthcoming Peter Morrison Trophy final against AFC Flixton in Oldham, Garbacz said: "It's going to be difficult to lift the boys, but we're not going to schelp all the way up to Boundary Park for nothing."


HENDON: Russell Corin, Avi Korman, Tali Nevies, Ari Nevies, Ethan Zone, Rafi Kon (sub: Ben Kon 46), Ben Lauffer, Ari Last (capt), Greg Corin, David Seitler (sub: Avishai Kestenbaum 88), Dovi Fehler (sub: Simon Peterman 70). Sub not used: Alex Rosenthal


BOOKED: Ari Last 89

GOAL: Korman 65

RAIDERS: Jake Doffman, Josh Pistol, David Rhodes (capt), Justin Spiro, Alex Bloch (sub: Josh Morris 87), Jonny Kay, Ben Joseph, Ricky Engleman (sub: Adam Joselyn 65), Liron Mannie, Matt Stock, Jordan Marks (sub: Elliot Moslawy 88). Subs not used; Elliot Espinoza, David Dinkin


GOALS: Mannie 3, Marks 11, Stock 30



Shots: 8
On target: 1
Off target: 7
Corners: 4
Offsides: 3
Fouls: 8
Cards: Yellow - 1 (Last), Red 0

Shots: 12
On target: 6
Off target: 6
Corners: 6
Offsides: 0
Fouls: 9
Cards: Yellow - 0, Red 0

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