RAIREPORTNorstar moved a step closer to securing their first ever Premier Division title as they beat Faithfold in the top-two clash.

Premier Division
Norstar London Raiders A 2 Faithfold A 0
Sunday, 5 January, 2014

An own goal from Alex Levack and fine finish from Josh Green wrapped up the win, and they even had the luxury of seeing David Dinkin miss a second half penalty as the runaway leaders made it nine wins from 13 games.

Happy with the way his side played, player-manager Phil Peters said: “I was obviously delighted to bounce back with a comfortable 2-0 victory without really playing to anywhere near our full potential and after the winter break.

“We looked solid throughout and at no point looked like conceding against a talented Faithfold side. Winning when you are not playing well is obviously very pleasing and a very good sign. The back four all played very well today but it was a team performance rather than being down to any one individual.

“After the last game against Faithfold we didn’t expect anything different. We know they like to move the ball from front to back very quickly and missing some key midfield players today this was even more obvious.”

There wasn’t much to separate the sides over the 90 minutes and has Ben Ellis taken a better first chance when put clean through, Faithfold could have taken the lead midway through the first half.
Norstar weren’t their usual attacking threat, and didn’t even muster a shot on goal in the first half – even though they did go into the break 1-0 up when Levack headed an in-swinging free-kick into the back of his own net.

The start of the second half panned out pretty much as the first did, that was until the Raiders had a glorious chance to double their lead when referee Andy Myerson adjudged Levack to have handled a cross in his own box. Dinkin stepped up though saw his penalty superbly saved.

However, any hopes Faithfold had of getting back into the game weren’t helped by not being allowed to make any substitutions after Myerson remained adamant that he was told they didn’t have any at the start of the match, meaning he wasn’t able to allow them to make any changes during the match.

Unable to switch things and then down to ten men, Raiders made sure of the points when substitute Green finished off a quick-fire counter-attack by superbly curling the ball into the far corner of the net.”

Believing his side deserved the win, Peters said: “All things considered, we certainly deserved the win although it took an own goal midway through the first half for us to start playing. We’ve made ourselves very hard to beat this season and that was shown again today.

“We were stronger and fitter throughout and I think we just wanted it that bit more – particularly after our disappointing defeat to Brady last time out and I don’t think any substitutions by Faithfold today would have deprived us of three points.”

But despite the 13-point lead at the top, he still isn’t getting carried away about them lifting the title come May. “It’s not quite that simple,” he says. “Hendon are fifteen points behind us but have six games in hand, whilst Redbridge are still in the mix. They have a lot to do but we still have five tough games that we need to win to keep the pressure on the chasing pack. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves yet but certainly we’re enjoying our football and looking forward to the Peter Morrison tie next week.”

Faithfold player-manager Zuriel Solomon thought his side deserved at least a share of the points, saying:

“Over the 90 minutes we were the better team and at least deserved a draw. I thought our performance was ok, I thought we controlled the game but maybe not enough to actually win it. We had a lot of energy but sometimes lacked a bit of creative spark.

“It was the kind of game I expected, they have a good youthful team and being leaders they must be doing something right.”

But believing the referee was the difference between the sides on the day for not allowing them to make a substitution, he said: “That was massive in terms of the final result. It is massive and was an absurd decision but I am not going to ridicule the referee here, but will take it up with the league.”