Norstar player-manager Phil Peters claimed a third victory of the season over Oakwood on Sunday morning, to seal a Cup Final place, and keep alive their hopes of a league and cup treble.
Cyril Anekstein Cup Semi-Final
Norstar London Raiders A 2 Oakwood A 1
Sunday, 16 March, 2014
Two second half strikes from Jamie Wolfson and Matt Stock saw them earn their passage to Wingate, and Peters was delighted with the performance of his players.
He said: “Today was another epic in the likely four-part series between ourselves and Oakwood this season, and we once again emerged victorious thanks to a brilliant performance and an almost perfectly-executed game plan.
“Two moments of genius from Jamie and Matt will grab the headlines but we were heroic across the pitch and fully deserve our place in the final.
“It’s hard to single-out players on a day like today, but for me the man-of-the-match was Josh Pistol who played magnificently at the heart of our defence alongside skipper David Rhodes. Our fullbacks – Josh Morris and Alex Bloch – were also magnificent.”
Saying he knew what to expect from the game, he said: “It was exactly the match we were expecting and both sides cancelled each other out in the first half. When you have players like Wolfson and Stock in your side you know that if you lay the foundations, the magic moments are going to come and our performance yesterday typified our season to date.”
While they now have to sit back and see if Hendon can win their remaining league games to deny them the title, they will have a chance to claim a first win of the season over them when they take them on in the final, with Hendon having beaten Camden in the other semi.
Having drawn with them in both their League games this season, he said: “We outplayed Hendon twice in the league – the first time missing four or five glorious opportunities to win the game whilst the second was much closer. They blend experience and know-how with youthful exuberance and that’s a dangerous combination to go up against but we can’t wait to get stuck into them again as they’re due a good beating.”
And answering back his counterpart at Hendon, David Garbacz, who has spoken disparagingly about Norstar, saying: “I await their request to change the venue from Wingate to their 3G as I’m not sure they’ve played a game away from it all season – their boys might have to actually go out and buy a pair of real boots which has been unheard of so far this year”, he said: “Garbacz loves the attention, doesn’t he? Despite all the jibes about our lack of grass preparation we’ve had a pretty good record on the surface and would have been happy to beat Faithfold, Team and Lions Blue on grass had the weather held out.
“Having said that, this isn’t about Hendon. It’s about Norstar London Raiders and the first major final that the club has been in. We couldn’t care less who we’re playing or where we’re playing – all that matters is that when we crawl off the pitch after 90 minutes, it’s winners’ medals that will be going round our necks and Rhodesy who will have his hands on that trophy.”
Oakwood joint-manager Ric Blank was happy with the performance of his side, though was left upset by some of the refereeing decisions. He said: “I thought defensively, as a team we were excellent. We worked on shape and countering Norstar’s willing runners from midfield and it worked. With the ball we can play better but we were controlling the game right before the first goal. It was a clear foul on Dan Geey in the middle of the park and they broke and scored. I thought it was a very poor decision by the referee and ultimately it cost us.
“I think both sides will feel they can play better football. There was more quality on display in our recent league match without doubt. But a cup semi final is always going to be tight. No one wants to make a mistake. Without question losing Sam Jacobson just after half-time made a huge difference. He was comfortably the best player on the pitch and went off ill. I have no doubt we would not have conceded with him on the pitch. We were lucky to have a replacement of Ilan Scorah’s quality but losing Sam was a huge blow. The first goal, having lost the game’s outstanding performer, was a killer. And the clear foul was hard to take. I don’t think Dan Geey won a free-kick all game long. I’m not sure why.”
And hoping this defeat will spur them on in the Peter Morrison Cup and for the remainder of their League season, he said: “We are the biggest bunch of fighters in Maccabi football and we’re not going to let one bad result or a poor refereeing decision stop us from giving it everything.
“There’s no shame in losing to Norstar – they’re an excellent side with a good attitude who work hard. We feel hard done by today and will look to put it right on Sunday against FC Team C. Talking about winning the Morrison is incredibly premature given we are only at the last 16 stage. But we’ll give it our best. I rate South Manchester Maccabi as clear favourites but Hendon and Norstar will fancy themselves for sure.”