MGBSFL DIVISION TWO
ATHLETIC BILBAUM 0 NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS B 5
Nicky Woolf became only the second ever Raider to break the 100 goal mark as he bagged a four-goal haul in another comprehensive Raiders win. With 102 goals, he now sits just 13 behind all time leading scorer Guy Sharon.
On a sticky, long-grassed surface and with a blustery wind, it was never going to be easy to play flowing passing football, but Raiders’ manager Jonathan Adelman kept faith with as many of the side who demolished Haroldeans the previous week. With David Esterkin, Gilad Kestenbaum and Jonathan Shapiro missing, and Sam Isaacs injured, Adelman was able to recall David Simnock in goal, and bring Adam Posner, club captain Josh Fineman and Josh Green in to the match day squad. Ben Sheldon discarded his goalkeeping gloves and made his first outfield appearance of the season at the back and Andrew McMaster got the nod to start in the centre of midfield.
In a scrappy first half it was Raiders who took a 17th minute lead. A long throw from Anthony Goodmaker was met with a smart header from Jeremy Elster<?b> which looped over the Bilbaum keeper and in to the net.
With the wind behind them, Bilbaum threw the kitchen sink at Raiders in an attempt to draw level, with corners and long throws raining in on Simnock’s goal. Raiders however stood firm and took the slender single goal advantage in to the break.
Bilbaum started the second half the stronger, Jake Gilbert forcing a sprawling one-on-one save from Simnock, and whilst the striker was first to the loose ball, his goal-bound effort was blocked on the line by Matt Greene. Sadly Greene was forced to hobble off shortly afterwards with Fineman taking his place.
McMaster powered a header in on goal at the other end, only to see the Bilbaum keeper pull off a sensational save, but the highs and lows of a keeper’s life were in evidence on 57 minutes when Mike Hershman’s devilish cross was spilled by the keeper who could only watch in despair as Woolf gleefully tucked home the loose ball.
Just four minutes later the lead had been extended, in historic style. Simnock made another smart save and aware of the opportunities upfield he delivered an accurate drop kick right on to the chest of Woolf out on the left wing some 35 yards from goal. The record-breaking striker surged infield, jinked past the full back and unleashed a rocket in to the top corner from 25 yards to break the 100 goal barrier in some style.
Woolf completed his second hat-trick in successive weeks on 68 when the Bilbaum keeper felled the striker when clean through. The ref decided a penalty was adequate punishment and Woolf made no mistake from the spot.
Posner and Green who had replaced McMaster and Rob Samuelson combined with Elster on 73 minutes in a slick move which saw Green touch home from close range only for the goal to be ruled out for offside, after Elster’s run was ended by a crude challenge in the box, no penalty was given. Green then found the net again with a cute lofted finish after a Woolf through ball only for the ref to pull play back once again for offside.
As the game wore on, and Bilbaum tired, the pace of Green and Hershman on the flanks was creating space and chances. The best of which fell to two defenders! First Rafi Addlestone smashed over when it seemed easier to hit the target, then Sheldon hammered a rising drive from 30 yards which just cleared the bar.
Fittingly, it was left to record breaker Woolf to apply the coup de grace in the final minute. Wing wizard Green hared down the right and cut the ball back to the waiting predator on the edge of the box, Woolf sidestepped his man and curled the ball delightfully in to the top corner.
Adelman was delighted with his team’s performance, saying: “These were tough conditions today, perhaps the kind of surface that Raiders teams of yesteryear would not have coped with, but we proved we can battle it out, we were clinical when our chances came and we defended doggedly at the other end with our keeper making a series of quality saves for our second successive clean sheet.
"It feels great to be at the top of the league, with a game in hand, but its still early days and it’s the league table in May that matters.”
On record breaker Woolf, Adelman commented: “I remember his debut as a 17-year-old – he had bags of talent even then but to break the 100 goal mark for the Club is quite some achievement. In the days of big money transfers its great to see a true one club man making his mark and I’m sure he’s eyeing up Guy Sharon’s all-time record - with the form he is in you wouldn’t back against him breaking that during this season.”
Club Life Vice President Rob Richman, who managed Woolf for many years, said: "I am delighted for Nicky. I am not sure there are many people who can match his dedication to the Orange shirt over the years. It is a great achievement to have scored 100 goals for one Club and I have no doubt he'll become the all time top Raiders goal-scorer very soon."
Scorers: Elster 17, Woolf 57, 61, 68, 89)