JC MSFL PREMIER DIVISION
BRADY MACCABI A 0 NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B 0
New boys Brady A and Raiders B played out a goalless draw at Rowley Lane, with the Raiders back-line dealing comfortably with the treat posed by Team GB star striker Paul Hakim.
Brady fielded a massively under-strength team, with both Hershman brothers unavailable, along side new signing captain fantastic Jon Ellis. They did however welcome back Hakim, making his first start for the club in over two and a half years.
Raiders started the brighter side, and it was only some brilliant defending from Nick Smith and Zak Presky that prevented Raiders from taking an early lead.
Hakim looked a threat and had a good chance very early on when he spun David Grossman but fired over from a difficult angle.
The rest of the first half was quite even though Raiders probably shaded it on chances.
Brady were looking promising up front, with Hakim giving the Raiders back four a hard time, however was unable to create much with such a lack of support. Brady’s best chance came when stand-in skipper Josh Gordon rose above the Raiders defence, in Branislav Ivanovic stature to head Lee Platt’s corner against the cross-bar. The rest of the first half went by with very little other incident as Raiders having a lot of the ball, were unable to break down the rigid Brady system.
Grossman missed a couple of headers and Dave Esterkin also shot narrowly wide when put through by David Dinkin.
Led by towering performances from Rik Sherman, Grossman and Elliot Espinoza, Raiders pushed for the win in the second half but some very good Brady defending keeping and defending kept Polak and Hershman out.
Raiders had a lot more of the ball than Brady and the Brady defence were defending like demons. Smith, Presky, and the ever impressive youngster Jordan Grant were fantastic at the back.
It was testament to the ability of Grant that he kept the prolific Nicky Woolf quiet, and Raiders had to explore other avenues to break down the Brady back four.
The game continued ebb and flow with Raiders having the lion’s share of the possession and in the last 10 minutes Raiders looked like they were going to break the deadlock.
Kkeeper Oli Colmans made a game-saving stop from a point-blank header, and then Grant stopped a ball on the line using his midriff.
Raiders had a goal ruled out for offside after a James Foley-Comer effort which seemed to be heading straight in was tapped in on the line by Esterkin.
Rob Richman, the Raiders boss, told JC Sport: "It's never easy playing against Brady who are a well-drilled, organised outfit.
"I'm happy with the point but I know that on another day if our finishing was a bit sharper we may have managed to grab all three.
"I have to single out our two centre backs who were outstanding today, especially given who they were playing against.
"Overall four points from our first two games is a decent enough start but we are aware that there are some very tough games ahead."
Brady boss Josh Rosenfeld told JC Sport; "I think it was a game won by both sets of defences. I thought we were absolutely superb at the back and limited them to only the one or two shots on target.
"Considering who we had missing, I think it was a very good result and I'm pleased with the point."