Raiders A manager Dan Shafron admitted his side rode their luck as they booked their place in the final of the Peter Morrison Trophy.
Peter Morrison Trophy Semi-Final:
London Lions Masters 0 North London Raiders A 1
Sunday, 9 April, 2017
While securing a 1-0 win over London Lions Masters to set up a mouth-watering final against South Manchester Sports Club at Oldham Athletic FC, their opponents spurned at least half-a-dozen guilt-edge chances in the first half alone, leaving manager Dan Jacobs to reflect on what could have been.
David Dinkin’s 35th minute penalty proved to be the difference, with Shafron saying: “It’s true we rode our luck in the first half. In games like this, the occasion can get the better of you. We took a while to settle in to the game, far longer than I anticipated, but when we did, we played some excellent football and had some good chances to extend our lead.”
Saying he was happy with their performance, he said: “We were disciplined and worked incredibly hard. They had a lot of quality all over the pitch and had some good chances to score in the first half. But we tool more control of the game in the second half and I’m delighted for the boys.”
Having to produce a rearguard action at times, given the attacking threat they faced, goalkeeper Jake Doffman produced a host of important – and at times – stunning saves. Shafron said: “Defensively we were superb. We set up well and played with good shape and structure. Doffman was unbelievable, he had an outstanding game as did Rhodesy and Blochy who were both immense.”
Delighted in leading the side to the final in what is his first season in charge of the side, he said: “Getting there means a lot to all of us at the club. We’ve had a challenging cup run, playing against very good opposition in every round. Today was definitely our hardest test against a great group who I’m sure will have a great chance of winning gold at the Maccabiah. My boys deserve to enjoy this moment.”
Able to now look ahead to the final, he added: “Logistically there’s a lot that needs to be organised and we are already in the process of making necessary arrangements. We’ve also got our last two league games before the final and we want to finish our league campaign as strongly as possible. “Momentum and staying sharp is important and I want us to keep up our good run of performances.
I saw South Manchester in their semi-final last week. They are a good side and we will certainty need to be at our best if we are to come home with the trophy.”
Jacobs was under no illusion as to what cost his side victory – a mixture of poor finishing, great goalkeeping and a dubious penalty decision. He said: “You generally get what you deserve in football. If games were decided by possession of the ball or clear-cut chances created, then yes we deserved to win the game by a street. What was the difference between the sides? A country mile from where I was standing! What was the difference between us in terms of the result? Well for that take your pick! Our inability to put the ball in the net, their goalkeeper, some luck, the award of the softest of penalties…”
Delighted with the performance of his back four – Mark Addis, Adam Myeroff, Tony Gold and Guy Morris, saying: “the fact their goalkeeper’s first save came 15 minutes from time tells you all you need to know how well they played”, he was also philosophical about the result and the bigger picture. “We didn’t have quite the time on the ball we’d get in Masters football, so it didn’t feel as if we played with as much control or as well as we have done”, he said. “Yet despite the injuries we had and that we were coming off the back of a super tough game last Wednesday evening, we still dominated. That we failed to take even one of the half dozen excellent chances we created is of course disappointing, but looking at the bigger picture and Israel in the summer, that we can create so many chances against supposedly the best open age teams, should give us plenty of room for optimism.
“This competition was about getting some additional game time together. To get drawn against two of the top sides was a bonus and told us a lot about the group. Of course I’m proud that we competed well, but I want the guys to be hurting that they missed out on a final they should be in.”