North London Raiders made in two wins from two as they edged a high quality game by the odd goal in three against Division 1 new boys Scrabble at the Ark.
MGBSFL DIVISION ONE:
NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B 2 SCRABBLE 1
SUNDAY, 18 SEPTEMBER, 2016
The opening ten minutes saw Scrabble start strongly looking to use the pace of Josh Green down the right and the trickery of Zak McLead on the left. Raiders soaked up that initial pressure and then began to settle in to their passing game and exert a control on proceedings that in truth they didn’t ever look like relinquishing.
It was always going to be a tight affair given the extensive strengthening Scrabble had carried out in pre-season to an already strong 2nd Division title winning squad. And as with so many tight games, it took a moment of genuine brilliance to break the deadlock. Nicky Woolf, playing his first game since his recent marriage, dropped deep to pick up the ball 35 yards out after 33 minutes. Woolf somehow stayed upright riding challenges from two Scrabble midfielders at the same time before hammering a 30 yard screamer in to the roof of the net.
The lead was no more than Raiders deserved for their controlled passing but 5 minutes later Scrabble were level in controversial circumstances. A long diagonal ball from the right was put home by McLeod in an offside position. Despite the linesman’s flag, ref Keith Goodman gave the goal explaining that the flag had gone up too early. An incensed Raiders had further cause for dismay when a deep corner was fired back towards goal only to be diverted out of the penalty area by a Scrabble hand – it looked a clear penalty but Goodman waved play on.
Despite these decisions Raiders retained discipline and when Woolf was hacked down 25 yards from goal, Josh Goldstein whipped in a free kick which the Scrabble keeper acrobatically palmed over to leave it level at the break.
The start of the second half saw another chance go begging when Jake Gilbert got on the end of a lovely passing move, only to be crowded out. Scrabble’s brief forays in to the Raiders half were rebuffed by the outstanding Charles Braunstein, Elad Hertshten and skipper Anthony Goodmaker – and on the one occasion Scrabble got in behind the whipped cross evaded everyone.
With time running out and energy sapping, it was Josh Goldstein who pounced on a loose clearance from the Scrabble keeper, he raced in to the box and clipped a deft finish in to the far corner to the delight of his teammates.
Scrabble had 12 minutes to search for an equalizer but with the Raiders midfield of Toby Katz, Danny Bloom, Si Buchler standing strong, Scrabble had to resort to longer balls which for the most part Raiders dealt with comfortably. Antony Shaw and Matt Leader excelling at full back. The closest the Blues came was when David Simnock used all of his agility to palm away what would have been a Braunstein own goal.
The final whistle saw the points go to Raiders but mutual respect between two sides who’d asked and given no quarter for the full 90 minutes.
A delighted Raiders manager Jonathan Adelman paid tribute to a resolute display “Scrabble are a good side no question about that. There were so many excuses we could have made today against a team like that, we were short of no less than 8 squad members before this morning, we then had to lend our A team Lewis Blitz and Alex Elf was unable to play. As a result we had just 12 players so couldn’t play the high tempo game we wanted to against an opposition we knew would use their rolling substitutions well. But wow, what an effort from our 12, every one of them was superb. It was also very pleasing that despite some questionable decisions in the first half the boys retained their calm and brought home a deserved 3 points”.
Co-Manager Zack Gotelf was especially happy that the team “learned the lessons of last weekend. Today we kept the ball well and our defenders won their individual battles. After losing narrowly twice against Scrabble last season with our C’s I’m delighted to finally get a win over them. Our skipper Goodie was immense against Sherman and that goal from Nicky Woolf – that’s what you get out of bed on a Sunday morning for!”