NLR C booked their place in the semi-finals of the Peter Morrison with a hard fought victory against a spirited Heaton Park Rovers.
Peter Morrison Trophy Quarter-Final:
North London Raiders C 4 Heaton Park Rovers 2 AET
Sunday, 13 March, 2016
With the sun shining down the pre-match hype ended and it was orange v luminous green at Hatfield University.
Both sides looked up for the game from the off and both sides traded plenty of tackle and possession in the early stages, but it was Raiders who took the lead on 15 minutes. The ball came into the HPR box and after clever play, the ball sat up nicely for Marc Woolfe to volley low past Jordan Warrents and into the corner of the net.
Raiders seemed settled by the time they took the lead and started to play good, flowing football. However, HPR’s aggressive game plan was starting to reap rewards and they slowly began to find their feet. HPR equalised on the half hour through a super strike from Jonny Franks – a fantastic flick up, turn and volley in from 25 yards. 1-1 at the break. The visitors took the lead shortly into the second half when Alex Swift’s header was correctly ruled to have crossed the line.
Raiders then pushed for an equaliser and made the most of their two substitutes. The equaliser came with 10 minutes to go, a shot from the edge of the box was parried by Warrents and Alex Goodman following up fired home the equaliser. Raiders pushed on in an attempt to get a winner before the dreaded extra-time, but it wasn’t to come.
Into extra-time and Raiders knew that they had the superior legs and by this time were totally dominating possession, yet wary of HPR’s physical threat – and threat up front. Raiders took the lead eight minutes into extra-time when Charles Braunstein, pushed forward into centre midfield, and raced onto a loose ball to dink beautifully over the goalkeeper. Raiders threw caution to the wind at the break, taking off two of their more creative players and suring things up at the back. They soaked up plenty of pressure and with five minutes to go, a Raiders set play fell to Braunstein who smashed the ball in from inside the box to seal progression to the semi-finals.
Manager Zack Gothelf said: “Fair play to HPR – they only had 11 and could quite easily have stayed at home. That they came down and fought to the bitter end despite missing key players was a testament to the club and to the management team. Their appearance has kept the magic of the Morrison going strong. This was a game that the Morrison, or any cup for that matter, needed. Both sides desperate to win, good football, aggression when needed and some spectacular goals.
“We’re looking forward to the semi final – we know we not expected to do anything but why can’t we get to the final. It’s one of those seasons – look across the football world, the tides are playing up and here’s to hoping for the only north London derby I care about this season.”