JC MSFL DIVISION FOUR
Athletico Finchley 3 North London Raiders C 0
A Ben Mandell double helped Athletico Finchley spring one of the surprises of the day as they started 2012 with a bang.
After a thrashing from Raiders the last time these two met, Athletico were always out to get revenge.
The first half brought no goals, but fans from both teams were no doubt on edge from the off. Athletico had the two main chances of the half after Mandell missed from a one-on-one situation and Jack Wagner hit the inside of the post after a half-volley from a cross.
Neither team looked like they could break eachother down, and the first half ended a 0-0.
An inspirational teamtalk at half time from Athletico manager Gideon Rabstein gave Finchley the belief that they could win this match, and in the second half, Athletico began to show their class.
The first goal game after a Rory Delap like throw-in from Andrew Greenwall Cohen was launched into the box, flicked on by striker Sam Collins and then headed into the net from red-hot Mandell. 1-0 Finchley.
The goal gave Finchley a lot of momentum and they began to take control with Aron Keller pulling all the strings from the centre of midfield.
Soon after the first goal, a corner from Greenwall-Cohen was swung into the Raiders box. It fell to the feet of Collins with his back to the Raiders keeper. He took the ball down, shifted it left and turned to smash the ball into the back of the net to double Athletico’s advantage.
Raiders starting digging deep and began to look dangerous. A terrific performance from Finchley keeper Doug Carson constantly frustrated the Raiders strikers with the way he commanded his area. He saved Athletico on numerous occasions by running off his line to clear the ball, even colliding with the Raiders strikers leading to a gash on the nose. Carson fears no-one.
Athletico almost scored again after a superb free-kick from Mandell was magnificently tipped onto the bar by the Raiders keeper.
Raiders applied enormous amounts of pressure but thanks to a solid defence, namely captain marvel Sam Marchant, they weren’t able to break Finchley down.
As you FIFA players will understand, when you go Ultra Attacking, you tend to leave gaps at the back. This was exactly the case as Raiders attempted to up the tempo to get a result. Centre back Adam Goldstein calmly took the ball out of defence and floated a inch-perfect pass to Collins who was in acres of space in the Raiders half. Collins then drew the keeper off his line before sliding the ball left to majestic Mandell to slot home his seventh goal in three games.
Delighted Athletico manager Gideon Rabstein told JC Sport: "It was lovely to see such positivity, especially in the first half, when we missed a few chances. It is a great pleasure to see how far we've come since September. Bring on next week!"
Zach Margolin, the Athletico chairman, told JC Sport: "Once again, Athletico were under-estimated and once again we have shown our class. It is impossible to single anyone out as Man of the Match. Everyone was superb today."