MGBSFL-MMFL INVITATIONAL TROPHY FINAL
NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS B 3 HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B 2
A goal from Will Ufland helped NLR secure the inaugural MMFL-MGBSFL Invitation Trophy after they came from 2-1 down to beat first division Hendon at Wingate & Finchley.
Having seen their A-team lose the Anekstein final hours earlier, NLR were determined to overcome their first division opponents and they showed the spirit that helped them win the Division Two title, with a stunning late rally.
Hendon had started the game the stronger of the two teams, and looked especially threatening down their left flank, but it was Norstar who took the lead – against the run of play – when after 20 minutes David Esterkin ran onto a long through-ball and clipped the ball over Hendon ‘keeper Josh Linder.
Nevertheless, Hendon continued to press forward, and had several shots just over the bar before another well-worked move down the left resulted in a low cross which was met by Chaim Gothold. Although he miskicked his first effort, he maintained his composure to swivel and hit a low drive into the bottom lefthand corner to equalise.
Hendon maintained their dominance, benefitting from Norstar surrendering possession too easily, and almost went ahead three minutes later when a corner from the right was headed onto the underside of the bar and down onto the goal-line, but despite Hendon’s claims that it had crossed the line, referee David Goldberg and assistant referee Ken Goldman disagreed.
After the break, the pattern continued, and it was no surprise that Hendon took the lead in the 64th minute. They were awarded a free-kick near the right-hand corner of the Norstar penalty area, and the cross was firmly headed home by captain, Alex Neiss, putting his team ahead for the first time.
However, Norstar were not finished, and going behind seemed to spur them into playing a more controlled, relaxed passing game. They were able to find more space, and put together several fluent moves albeit without creating any clearcut chances. Indeed Hendon could have put the game beyond their reach with just 17 minutes remaining, when they were clean through, but David Simmock in the Norstar goal managed to deflect the shot for a corner.
Just as it looked as if Hendon might be heading for victory, Esterkin’s close-range angled shot put Norstar right back in it, and within two minutes, the tie had been turned on its head once more as Ufland capitalised on a long cross from the right to drill a shot into the bottom lefthand corner to put Norstar back in the driving seat.
The final 10 minutes were dominated by Hendon as they pushed forward in search of another leveller, but the Norstar defence held firm, and the prize was theirs.
This competition was the first in what is hoped to be an annual trophy pitting MGBSFL teams against Masters teams, and it seems that both sets of clubs have benefitted from and enjoyed the new challenge, and it is hoped that the format will be extended to include more teams next season.
Jonny Adelman, manager of the victorious Norstar outfit, was enthusiastic about the competition: “We had to adapt to playing Masters teams, who play a different kind of game – slower but trickier!
"But it’s been a great learning experience, and we’ve really enjoyed it. Hendon played really well today, but we kept going, and were rewarded in the end."
Hendon boss Aryeh Goldring told JC Sport: "We played really well for the majority of the game and were incredibly unlucky to lose. Three minutes where we switched off and conceded two soft goals cost us.
"Credit to Norstar they kept going and rallied at just the right time. We dominated, but we failed to take our chances. There was a small period in the second half where we lost control of the game and I was probably responsible for that by making too many subs.
"We have had a frustrating season but we have shown we're a match for most teams when we have our full squad available.
"We need to make sure we take the positives of the last eight weeks and retain the core group of players into next season and I'm confident we will have a better showing in the league next season.
"Basically, Norstar took their chances and we didn't, and that's pretty much what it came down to."