Home league match played on 19 March 2023.
Kicked off at 10:30 AM

It was another Sunday and another home fixture for the Raiders, who welcomed local rivals Moreton Hall Athletic to Nowton Park for a crucial league game. The Raiders squad looked sharp in the warm up, despite missing their injured midfield maestro Hugo Andrews. It looked like it was going to be a good day in the pre-match shooting drill when honourary 15th squad member Wilf Andrews smashed a low drive into the bottom corner. Horler stood absolutely no chance! On to the game itself and the Raiders knew they needed a fast start against the ultra-defensive visitors. That’s exactly what they got in the first minute when some great vision from Deeks produced a through ball into the left channel. Parker outpaced the defence and latched onto the pass before smashing the ball home with a fine right-footed strike. Despite going 1-0 down, Athletic didn’t deviate from their plan to sit deep, defend and leave little space for the Raiders to play their usual passing game. Nonetheless, the home side’s dominance continued and a number of further chances followed. A smart near post half volley from Everard was collected by Athletic’s ‘keeper and Deeks broke the lines to get onto a Cook pass before the ‘keeper rushed out to smother. The ever-busy Everard was unlucky again when he stole the ball from an Athletic defender and saw his long range low effort flash just past the post. He must have been wondering whether his goal would come at all when a second long shot went just over the bar as the Raiders’ early dominance continued. The introductions of Arnold, Heston Andrews, Hibbard and Pospisil saw Raiders keep pushing, and more chances followed. First it was Deeks’ half volley after Pospisil did well to win the ball in midfield. Soon after, a corner landed at Pospisil’s feet in the box and his effort was scrambled onto the post and wide by the grateful goalkeeper. Hibbard then saw his fantastic long-range half volley saved and the home crowd were beginning to wonder where the next goal would come from. As half time approached, Raiders proved that you can never switch off when you dominate. A rare foray forward from the visitors created their first chance of the game but Heston Andrews was on hand to make a superb goal-saving challenge at the back post and keep his team’s lead intact. There was time for one last piece of bad luck before half time when Hibbard was struck in the face by the ball at very close range. The brave Raider was thankfully soon up and about but sensibly took the precaution of sitting out the remainder of the contest. 1-0 at half time and the hosts needed to find more goals. A little more urgency at the start of the second half saw a decent effort from Barrett fly past the far post after some good play down the right from Kobylecki. Still Athletic offered very little going forward but they were crowding out the Raiders midfield at every opportunity. Finally a second goal came on 40 minutes when some neat interplay and skill in midfield set Deeks free. The midfielder’s sheer determination was rewarded as he retained possession from a good tackle on the goalkeeper and slotted the ball home for 2-0. The unfortunate Athletic number 1 picked up a knock in the challenge and was forced off, which was a shame when he had arguably been the away side’s best player. They now had a much-needed cushion, but the Raiders kept attacking in the hunt for more goals. A fabulous mazy run from Parker ended with a looping shot that struck the bar. Next, Barrett fed Everard, whose shot was stopped by the stand-in Athletic ‘keeper. At the other end, there was time for a smart save from Horler when Athletic had a corner and their striker found some space in the box. It was game over and relief for the home fans when Everard sealed the points with a third on 53 minutes. This goal was made from the vision and quick thinking of Arnold. His ball over the top from deep landed in front of the Athletic ‘keeper, who spilled the ball only to find the alert Everard had read the situation and finished with his right foot. As they closed the game out, the league title challengers made a few more chances, notably a Pospisil looping effort that was bound for the top corner before it was tipped wide. The industrious Clarke had several strong runs down the right and a shot that was stopped at the near post but that was it for the scoring. A great turnout from the Raiders mums on the sideline, who were happy to get their Mother’s Day gift of three points. Winning against defensive teams when not at your free-flowing best? Some say that’s the stuff of champions. Raiders have tougher games ahead but you can only beat what’s in front of you. Moreton Hall Raiders 3-0 Morton Hall Athletic

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