David con­quers Goliath

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BY DANNY CARO

PETER MOR­RI­SON TRO­PHY SEMI-FI­NAL MAC­CABI LON­DON LIONS MAS­TERS 0 NORTH LON­DON RAIDERS A 1

FOOT­BALL DAN Shafron ad­mits for­tune smiled on his side as North Lon­don Raiders A reached the fi­nal of the Peter Mor­ri­son Tro­phy after a ti­tanic scrap against a star-stud­ded Lions team.

Had it not been for the hero­ics of NLR goal­keeper Jake Doff­man, the Lions would have been out of sight be­fore half-time. At times it was Doff­man against striker Paul Hakim, but on each oc­ca­sion Doff­man came up with the right an­swers, pulling off save after save.

NLR’s league sea­son has been ham­pered by in­juries to key play­ers. Last sea­son’s cham­pi­ons look set for fourth place this year. But Shafron is de­lighted the team has reached the fi­nal in his first sea­son in charge.

He said: “I was very pleased with our per­for­mance. We were dis­ci­plined and worked in­cred­i­bly hard.

“The Mas­ters had lots of qual­ity across the pitch and had some good chances to score in the first half when we rode our luck.

Doff­man was called into ac­tion as early as the sev­enth minute. Lee Cash found him­self in space in the penalty area and lashed a vol­ley goal­wards, but Doff­man stood tall and showed great re­flexes to push the shot away.

NLR cap­tain David Rhodes and Alex Bloch were also work­ing tire­lessly to stop wave after wave of at­tacks down both flanks, while Liron Man­nie their big­gest threat on the counter.

Raiders were be­ing pushed fur­ther back and de­fender Mark Ad­dis was next to test the re­flexes of Doff­man who did well to push out his pow­er­ful div­ing header.

Sam Sloma, Craig Pearl, Alex Le­vack and Cash were link­ing up well in midfield and they set up another chance for Hakim who scuffed his shot wide from close range.

Doff­man was also equal to ef­forts from Mark Ad­dis and Hakim, but he would just not be beaten.

Then came the game’s big­gest talk­ing point. From a rare first-half at­tack, Nick Lewis went down in the penalty area after a chal­lenge from Guy Mor­ris and, to the amaze­ment of the Lions play­ers, ref­eree Andy My­er­son pointed to the penalty spot. On closer in­spec­tion on the JC’s video footage, the award looked in­cred­i­bly harsh. Nonethe­less, David Dinkin was the coolest man at Row­ley Lane, con­vert­ing his spot-kick with con­sum­mate ease. It was now a test of char­ac­ter for a Lions team who found them­selves trail­ing for the first time in the com­pe­ti­tion.

Raiders in­tro­duced some fresh legs, with the lively Alex Moss work­ing hard to keep the Lions at arm’s length.

Livewire Man­nie, who had been a thorn in Lions’ side all morn­ing, tried to kill off the tie, only to be de­nied by a bril­liant save from Corin.

The Lions ran out of ideas and Raiders saw out the match com­fort­ably, with vir­tu­ally the whole team run­ning over the con­grat­u­late star man Doff­man who had played the game of his life.

“De­fen­sively we were su­perb,” he said. “We set up well and played with good shape and struc­ture. We made a cou­ple of tac­ti­cal changes to nul­lify their threats and the boys that came off the bench added a huge amount of pace and en­ergy.”

Raiders will meet South Manch­ester Sports Club in the cup fi­nal at West Dids­bury and Chorl­ton FC on May 7. Shafron com­mented: “Get­ting to the fi­nal means a lot to all of us at the club. We’ve had a chal­leng­ing cup run, play­ing against very good op­po­si­tion. “To­day was def­i­nitely our hard­est test against a great group who I’m sure will have an ex­cel­lent chance of win­ning gold at the Mac­cabiah. My boys de­serve to en­joy this mo­ment.” Lions boss Dan Ja­cobs de­scribed him­self as “per­plexed” about the penalty de­ci­sion. He re­marked: “I’m not sure how a foul can be given for a trip on the ground when the ball is eight feet in the air and the de­fender has eyes for that only. “But those are the breaks and there’s sim­ply no mileage in dwelling on it. “But that one poor de­ci­sion is not the rea­son why we lost. With­out play­ing to the stan­dards we set our­selves, we still cre­ated enough chances to have been three or four up by that stage; the fact we weren’t is down to us and us only.

“That their keeper was man-ofthe-match and that their first shot in anger against us (other than the penalty) came 15 min­utes from time tells the story.

“This was def­i­nitely a game we should have won. I hope the bit­ter taste is one that drives us on come the sum­mer.”

LIONS: Rus­sell Corin, Tony Gold, Guy Mor­ris, Mark Ad­dis, Adam Myeroff, Alex Le­vack, Lee Cash, Craig Pearl, Saul Con­way, Paul Hakim, Sam Sloma (capt). Subs: Danny Dag­gers, Paul Lench­ner, Josh Bent­ley, Adam Stol­er­man, Gideon Gold.

RAIDERS: Jake Doff­man, Josh Mor­ris, David Rhodes (capt), Alex Bloch, Joe Co­hen, Jonny Kay, Adam Jose­lyn, Matt Stock, Liron Man­nie, David Dinkin, Nick Lewis. Subs: Alex Moss, Os­car Wag­ner, David Nezri, Jor­dan Nathan, Jono Rochw­erger

PHOTOS: MARC MOR­RIS

Jake Doff­man res­cues Raiders

David Dinkin

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