On another Sunday almost totally wiped-out by the weather, the Premier Division leaders took a weekend off from their league schedule to welcome Heaton Park Rovers down to London for the last-16 of the Morrison.
Peter Morrison Cup Third Round
Norstar London Raiders A 3 Heaton Park Rovers 0
Sunday, 9 Februay, 2014
Jake Doffman – thought to have broken his ankle on Thursday night in training – made a miraculous comeback to make the starting XI and continue his record as the only ever-present in the Norstar squad.
Despite picking the brains of several club members with Northern knowledge, manager Phil Peters knew very little about Rovers but knew they would be up for the challenge after more than three hours on the motorway for the afternoon kick off.
Rovers started brightly, putting pressure on the Raiders defence but there were very few chances in the first period of the match. On occasion when they were able to breach the home side’s backline, the Rovers striker was thwarted by the fantastic Jake Doffman coming out to claim the ball one-on-one.
Despite Heaton ‘parking the bus’ from there on it was chance after chance for Norstar with the woodwork coming to the rescue and the visitors’ keeper making some good saves to keep the title challengers at bay. With the teams going in at half-time 0-0 it seemed only a matter of time before the home team would break through.
At the start of the second half, left-back Justin Spiro popped up on the right wing and his neat pass found David Dinkin free on the edge of the box for the in-form striker to slot a Hazard-esque finish into the bottom left corner of the goal.
Heaton did not give up straight away when again the ball was played over the Raiders’ defence to again see Jake Doffman claiming the ball.
Raiders went on to score their second goal not long after, Dan Grossman rising to powerfully head home leaving the keeper with no chance and becoming Raiders’ 19th scorer of the season.
Matt Stock put the icing on the cake with a neat finish into the bottom corner with Doffman explaining it as a ‘naughty Stocky goal’. You get the same every week from Matt Stock, and he has been able to score goals for fun lately.
In the dying minutes Rovers had two great chances to get on the score sheet. The first a volley from 25 yards out which was tipped over the bar by man of the match Jake Doffman and the second from a corner that was whipped in viciously to see a Rovers player have a free header which luckily fell straight into Doffman’s hands.
Player-manager Phil Peters said: “In the end it was a good performance against a spirited Heaton Park Rovers side. They came with a plan, worked exceptionally hard and we certainly underestimated them in the first half which we won’t do again.
“But in the end our class told – we reshuffled at the interval and closed the game out in the first twenty minutes of the second half.
“Delighted that Jake was back to his best in goal after some interesting performances recently – I’m just pleased he makes saves better than he writes match reports. I think both keepers deserve to be nominated this week.
“Looking forward to the quarter finals now, but it’s back to the league where we have three more massive games to try and deliver the Chairman his first Premier Division title. Game on.”