Rob Richman saw his side make it three wins from three at the top of the Premier Division before insisting there’s plenty more to come from the early season pacesetters.
Norstar London Raiders A 5 Oakwood A 2
Sunday, 5 October, 2014
A stylish second half performance eventually saw them overpower the Os, after the sides had fought out an even first half.
And while delighted with the start to the season, he says: “We obviously have areas we can improve on, but we’ve scored at least three goals in every game so far this season and that’s despite integrating a number of new players, as well as missing three or four of our key and most influential players of last season. We know every week in this league it’s a real test so we will just try to keep doing the basics right and we’ll see how far that takes us.
“It’s been a decent first few weeks of the season. It’s only going to get tougher from here but obviously we are delighted with the start we have made.”
Raiders did the early running in the game, so it was something against the run of play when Dan Geey fired the Os ahead from the penalty spot. The lead though only lasted a matter of minutes as Josh Pistol headed home from a free-kick.
In what was proving to be an end-to-end encounter, both sides spurned opportunities to take the lead. The Os got plenty of joy down the left-flank in particular, while Jake Doffman had to be at his best to save from eight yards out. In reply, Richman’s side cared out several guilt edge chances as the half drew to a close, but wayward finishing saw them go into the break level.
The scoreline didn’t though remain that way for long after the break though it was an error from Oakwood goalkeeper Dan Cohen which allowed Liron Mannie the chance to flick the ball past him and into the unguarded net. However, the Os responded almost immediately when a fine cross to the far post was emphatically volleyed home by Dave Woolman.
But while there was little to separate the sides at this point, the last half hour was dominated by the Raiders as a mixture of slick attacking and poor defending allowed them to score three further times.
David Dinkin kept his composure from the penalty spot to see them regain their lead, before a fine finish from Jamie Woolfson gave them a two-goal margin. Dinkin rounded off the scoring when he fired home at the far post.
Admitting his side had faced a battle, Richman said: “Oakwood always give you such a tough game. They are without doubt the best pressing side in the league and with Wine and Wooly up front you know the centre-backs are going to have a real test. I thought we coped admirably with what they had to offer and in the second half when we needed to step it up to get the win we did exactly that.
“But I fully believe we deserved the win. The first half was a very even affair, Oakwood cramped us for space and we weren’t moving the ball quick enough to really cause them too many problems. In the second half, when the game opened up, we looked threatening every time we went forward and deservedly ended up winning the game.
“I don’t think there was that much difference between the two sides, we maybe had just a little more firepower and attacking threat going forward.”
Oakwood player-manager Ric Blank didn’t believe his side deserved to take anything from the game given their poor second half performance. He said: “I felt we were marginally the better side in the first half, but I was shocked by our second half showing. I haven’t seen us play that badly for many years.
We lacked spirit, togetherness, courage and aggression. These are the things we’re synonymous for. We conceded five soft goals and it’s ridiculous to claim we deserved anything. It’s tough to take in all honesty.”
Claiming the difference between the sides was that the Raiders ‘did the basics well and we didn’t’, he also feels players not turning up will seriously harm their chances of enjoying a successful season. He said: “The availability of our squad given how big it is, is appalling. If a player is injured then fair enough but the number of games players are missing is astonishing. It’s killing us. If that improves so will we. If it doesn’t then we won’t. Some of the boys made a huge effort to play yesterday which I totally appreciate. But we have to make that effort every week.
“We need to work harder as a unit, as a team and stop conceding goals. If we do that we will win games. Our main aim is to win our next game. And then the next and so on and we’ll see where it takes us.