JC MSFL DIVISION ONE
SOUTHGATE HARMEN B 3 NORSTAR A 4
A severely depleted Norstar team survived their first real scare of the season to come away from Ashmole with three points and their 100 per cent record still intact.
Missing several regular first-team players, Norstar lined up with only five of the players who started the first game of the season and struggled to find their rhythm in a cagey opening quarter.
That said, skipped Jeremy Elster could have given the visitors the lead in the first minute heading over from a free kick whilst Jonny Isbitt had two chances to score soon after first hitting the bar and then heading the rebound over.
It seemed inevitable therefore that Harmen would take the lead and they did in style with Paul Stein firing in after an excellent ball split the Norstar defence which manager Phil Peters was forced to change for the sixth successive league game.
However, Norstar’s new-found resilience was evident as the away side refused to let their heads drop and scored two quick-fire goals to put themselves back on the front-foot. First Adam Jason struck for his fifth in three games with a nice finish from the edge of the area and then Isbitt made amends with a poacher’s goal inside the six-yard box.
Both sets of wingers were having a great day with plenty of crosses being sent in but it was Norstar’s Simon Perlmutter who was having most of the luck and having assisted the first two goals, he found Isbitt at the back post only for the striker to miss out on the chance to extend their lead just before the break.
Norstar started to take control in the second half and doubled their lead after Perlmutter’s free-kick hit the bar and fell invitingly onto the head of Jason for him to nod in his second.
But credit to Harmed they continued to attack and some questionable defending saw them score their second as Dan Amram finished well past the helpless Ben De La Fuente.
Rather than sit back, the visitors continued to attack and whilst the strikers looked to have run out of puff, Perlmutter was still in a creative mood and his deep cross found the outstanding Eli Houri at the back post who volleyed into the roof of the next to restore the two-goal cushion.
Darren Gale then scored the fluke goal of the century as he rose for a spectacular bicycle kick that left De La Fuente flat-footed and everyone else open-mouthed, not quite believing what they had just witnessed. It was later described as Harmen boss Marc Cohen as "a worldie"!
In the dying moments, Jason thought he had completed his hat-trick, ending his run of braces, but the referee ruled it out for offside after consulting with the linesman. An unfortunate decision but one that was to have no effect on the final score as after four minutes of stoppage time, the final whistle blew with Norstar claiming a hard-fought 4-3 victory that was deserved despite a spirited performance from Harmen.
In the absence of assistant Jamie Slavin, who is on a peace mission to Geneva, manager Phil Peters spoke to the media after the game: "Another fantastic result that puts us in a great position at the top of the division.
"This was our toughest test of the season with so many players out but credit to those who came in and performed today – in particular Adam Graham who did a great job at centre back despite not having played there since his Under 11s days.
"There’s a great feeling in the camp at the moment and we know that whoever plays is doing so with 100 per cent commitment and this is helping to get us through the challenges that we’re facing. We haven’t had an easy game all season and the fact that we’ve won all six fixtures shows just how much each one of my players is putting in – both on and off the pitch to help us push for promotion.
"Harmen played well today and highlighted some of the areas we need to work on – we need to cut out the mistakes at the back and put away more of our chances in the opposition’s penalty area.
"We've got Neasden next week – a team who are clearly in a false position at the bottom end of the table. We're looking forward to the challenge and are hopeful of extending our lead – with most of our absentees due back, I'm in for a selection headache although really it's a great position to be in."
Harmen boss Marc Cohen told JC Sport: "A tremendous display from my boys today who are gutted at not getting more out of the game.
"We gave Norstar a big scare and on another day the points could have gone the other way.
"Full credit to the opposition who look sure to get promotion if they continue their run of form."