David conquers Goliath
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
Jake Doffman rescues Raiders