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Ice-cool Raiders hold their nerve to reach last four of PMT

Dan Shafron saluted cup giantkillers Fairlop FC as their adventure ended in the cruellest manner - on penalties - as holders North London Raiders squeezed into the semi-finals of the National Cup.

    PETER MORRISON TROPHY QUARTER-FINALS

    FAIRLOP FC 2 NORTH LONDON RAIDERS A 2 (AET - Raiders won 4-3 on penalties)

    This was a great game of football and genuinely a brilliant advert for the MGBSFL and the National Trophy.

    Reflecting on one of the games of the season, Shafron told JC Sport: "Fairlop were excellent opponents and I can see how and why they got to this stage of the competition. Our boys were well aware not to take them lightly and I felt the game was played with mutual respect, great intensity and a lot of desire."

    Raiders started slightly tentatively and Fairlop fashioned a couple of good chances to take the lead but it was the Premier Division side who scored first. Livewire Alex Moss converted a great finish after great link-up play with Ben Joseph.

    Fairlop did not let their heads drop and their efforts were rewarded when they equalised from the penalty spot via captain marvel Brad Gayer.

    Raiders bossed the second half and had a several good chances to regain the lead but they couldn’t put the ball in the net.

    SEE PHOTOGALLERY

    The tie moved into extra-time, and Fairlop were still dreaming of another famous upset. And they were in dreamland when they went 2-1 up when that man Gayer cracked home a 30-yard rocket in the first half of extra-time.

    The holders stayed calm but had to up their intensity and Shafron believes they "ultimately deserved our goal when we equalised", as Joseph headed home a corner from Joe Cohen.

    And so to penalties, Fairlop failed to convert twice and Raiders once, but it was the top-flight side who held their nerve to progress.

    A relieved Shafron told JC Sport: "Of course, when it goes to penalties, anything can happen and I’m delighted we managed to win that lottery.

    "Fairlop will be gutted but they are a great group of boys and I’m sure if they play like they did today, they’ll go on to win their league and have plenty more success moving forward."

    Alex Moss, Jonny Kay, Ben Joseph and Joe Cohen held their nerve to convert from the spot. And although Josh Bharier saw his spot-kick saved by Jake Sanders, NLR progressed into the last four.

    Looking ahead to the semi-finals, Shafron went on to say: "Whoever we draw will be a tough game. All we can do is prepare well to give ourselves the best chance of getting to the final again."

    Proud Fairlop boss Aaron Dias told JC Sport: "Firstly, congratulations to Raiders, I thought the game was played in a great spirit and was a fantastic advert for Jewish football. They have some quality players especially in central midfield, I wouldn't be surprised if they retained the trophy.

    "Once again, we went toe-to-toe with one of the giants from the top division, it was a tough tough battle out there and I couldn't have asked anything more from our players.

    "There was too many good performances to mention any specifically, but I would like to make a special mention to two players who I'm not going to name, after extra-time they both put there hand up and said they wanted a penalty. Unfortunately it wasn't either of their days and they both failed to convert; at Fairlop we win and lose as a team and I can't speak highly enough of both these players work-rate and commitment throughout the game and season.

    "We're are absolutely gutted to be out the cup. But have no time to feel sorry for ourselves. The league was always the priority this season with the cup run being a bonus. We have seven games left in the league, seven wins is the minimum I expect!"

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