“Neasden have won the title.” That was the post-match verdict of Chigwell manager Russell Green after his team were beaten by the runaway leaders at Hadley FC.
Although the East Londoners still have 10 games to play, Green believes that Neasden are a cut above the rest this season and have raised the bar in Jewish football.
In a game played in blustery conditions, it was Chigwell who started the brighter. They forged ahead with the first attack of the game after five minutes. Dean Ben Yosef showed great trickery to outfox his marker before squaring to Greg Bookman. The former Wingate & Finchley player produced a brilliantly executed volley into the bottom corner.
Stunned by the goal, Neasden levelled midway through the half with the impressive Daniel Stanton releasing TJ Keterman whose defence-splitting pass found the run of captain Lee Cash who clipped the ball home.
Neasden stepped up a gear and passed the ball around tidily, enjoying much success down the right channel. Cash tried his luck, collecting the ball and turning before sending in a low drive that Chigs keeper Jay Jaffa did well to save.
Finishing the half strongly, Neasden came close to going ahead when Cash squared to Daniel Levenfiche, but he was denied by fine block from Jaffa.
Watched by sponsor Gideon Joffe of Monkey Nuts, Neasden introduced Stock for the injured Lee Bibring at the start of the second half. Chigwell regained the lead in controversial circumstances on the hour when Bookman beat keeper David Fox to a bouncing ball and was sandwiched in the Neasden area.
Much to Neasden’s disbelief, ref Adam Lewis was awarded a penalty. With Bookman dazed, up stepped Aron Barnes to coolly slot home from the spot and restore Chigwell’s advantage.
Neasden claimed their second equaliser after 68 minutes. A flowing three-man move ended with Stock executing a brilliant 20-yard chip in off the underside of the bar with Jaffa stranded.
From this point it was clear there was only going to be one winner as Neasden started to flex their muscles, introducing striker Adam Stolerman to the fray.
That said, Chigwell could and really should have taken the lead for the third time. Dean Ben Yosef broke clear on the right side of the penalty area but his weak shot was blocked by Fox.
Levenfiche showed him how it should be done as Neasden went 3-2 up. He lost his marker and beautifully lifted the ball over the on-rushing Jaffa.
Chigwell finished with 10 men after Craig Sandford was sent off for a late tackle on Scott Shindler.
The hosts made the game safe four minutes from time when Stock
nodded home Cash’s corner at the far post.
Neasden joint-manager Daniel Fox said: “We’ve played 18 and won 18 in all competitions this season. We’ve got a very good team with depth on the bench and played well as a unit.”
When asked if any Jewish team could beat them this season, he said: “No.”
Green said: “I think the sending-off changed the game. It was a harsh decision. But you saw why Neasden are top today. I’m glad we showed we can compete with them and I expect us to run them closer next season.”
Neasden: Fox 7, Cole 7, Ellis 7, Shindler 8, Levene 7, TJ Keterman 7 (sub: Stolerman 75, 7), Stanton 9, Daggers 7 (sub: Sofier 75, 7), Bibring 7 (sub: Stock 48, 8), Levenfiche 7, Cash 7. Subs not used: Gottlieb, Forman, Ross
Chigwell: Jaffa 7, Sandford 7, Frankel 7, Berg 7 (sub: Gevertz 80, 7), Green 6, Hakimi 7, McCarthy 6 (sub: Sugarman 75, 7), Barnes 7, Laderman 6, Ben Yosef 7, Bookman 7. Subs not used: Smith