CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP QUARTER-FINAL
OAKWOOD A 3 FAITHFOLD A 1
Rik Blank was full of praise for his Oakwood troops after watching them dispatch defending league champions Faithfold A to set up a semi-final trip to runaway Premier Division leaders Norstar London Raiders A.
Strikes from Brad Wine, Sam Jacobson and Adam Levine helped the mighty Oaks record the result of their season so far as they sent Superhoops crashing out of the League Cup.
Blank, who co-manages the team with Alex Schock, told JC Sport that the win is a good barometer as to how the team has progressed since last season.
"We played Faithfold 12 months ago in exactly the same round of the same competition and limped to a 4-1 defeat on a windy day at Parmiters," Blank told JC Sport. "With largely the same players on the pitch, we showed how far we've come in 12 short months.
Faithold forged ahead with a typically stylish Mike Pearson finish, but Oakwood held it together and clawed themselves back into the game. They ended the half the stronger, with Alex Koslover pulling all the strings in the middle of the park and despite Faithfold fielding all of Jonny Haik, Pearson, Daryl Philips and Ben Ellis, the Oaks were rock solid at the back.
Levine equalised from a corner and from that point on there was only one winner. Dan Rose and Koslover were controlling the game and Brad Wine was causing Player of the Year Dan Howard huge problems. Up front Josh Rose had his best game in some time. Both sides were reduced to 10 men when Sam Reeves and Dan Rose were sent off for an unseemly spat. Blank said: "It was a shame but I can't blame the referee."
Jacobson then slotted a free-kick in the bottom corner after the wall had failed to do its job. There were 15 minutes to go, but Oakwood had very few scares and the long ball we "northern monkeys" had been accused of in the first half was then employed by Faithfold as they sought to hit Pearson.
With Levine back from injury, Oakwood were not going to be troubled by that tactic. Faithfold legs went and Oakwood's superior fitness told in the last 10 minutes. Wine got the goal his performance merited and Faithfold were dead on their feet, and the captain kicked out at the returning Woolman in frustration. Blank added: "The referee showed leniency which is just as well as it hadn't been a dirty game and we didn't want any more men sent off."
Blank went on to say: "We were understandably rusty - our last game was against Hendon B on January 12 - for the first 30 minutes and Faithfold were vocal in their opinion that we were resorting to long ball. But Al and I knew that once we dusted off the cobwebs we'd be okay.
"Faithfold are a great side and no-one will want to play them in the Morrison. To my mind they have the best individuals in the league and we'll continue to monitor our progress against them over the years. In the meantime we look forward to a big semi-final against Raiders in a few weeks time."
Disappointed Faithfold boss Zuriel Solomon told JC Sport: "I'm very disappointed with our result. We are just not at the level we were at last season and it is not hard to see where the problem is.
"Oakwood played well and credit to them they wanted it more. It is up to the boys to pick themselves up otherwise this season will be a disaster."