CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP FINAL
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A 3 NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS A 0
David Garbacz described his Hendon heroes as "dominant" as they completed part two of a probable double with a comfortable 3-0 victory over MGBSFL table-toppers NLR to secure the Anekstein Cup at Wingate on Sunday afternoon.
NLR went into the game missing midfield maestro Adam Joselyn, while top-scorer Matt Stock was named on the bench despite carrying a groin problem.
Having claimed the Morrison Trophy at the same venue after a penalty shoot-out against Oakwood the previous weekend, Hendon took time to get going against an NLR team who have not had a competitive match for several weeks.
There was little action of note in the first 10 minutes, but the match came to life when NLR midfielder Elliot Espinoza was cautioned by referee Richard Jaye for a wild lunge on Yoav Kestenbaum. Hendon captain Ari Last was booked in a coming together moments later.
NLR captain David Rhodes and David Dinkin had half-chances, but it was Hendon who forged ahead following the first proper effort on goal. A high ball into the box was punched clear by Jake Doffman, but Ben Kon met the ball with an unerring finish from the edge of the box. It was advantage Hendon.
Raiders continued to work hard, but Hendon coped admirably and it appeared they had another couple of gears to go into if necessary. They defended well and resolutely, winning many of their individual and collective battles, as well as second balls.
Hendon scored a killer second goal a minute into first-half injury time. A dangerous low cross was sent to the far post where Yoav Kestenbaum ghosted in to apply the finishing touch.
Jamie Wolfson, who showed moments of brilliance, was next into the notebook following a late tackle before NLR boss Phil Peters brought on fresh legs in the shape of Josh Green for the hard-working Ethan Zone. Hendon responded by introducing Yehuda Korman for the experienced Alex Rosenthal.
The match was as good as over after 65 minutes moments later when Korman was brought down, although NLR fans believed the foul was committed on the edge of the box. Yet ref Jaye pointed to the spot and captain Ari Last did the rest - smashing the resultant penalty into the top right-hand corner past the despairing Doffman.
Jaye finally lost his patience with Yoav Lebens, a commanding presence in the Hendon midfield, and he joined his captain in the notebook for an accumulation of fouls.
Whereas Corin was the hero for Hendon against Oakwood, he was little more than a spectator as his defence gave him ample protection, restricting NLR to pot-shots.
The last 20 minutes featured substitutions for both teams, with Jacob Gold coming on to replace the industrious Danny Kon, but he failed to threaten against his former club.
As the final whistle sounded, Hendon were celebrating another job well done, and they will be looking to clinch the treble by lifting the MGBSFL Premier Division title - with games against LML Blue, Oakwood and LML White to follow. Six points will probably be enough to do it.
A jubilant Garbacz spoke to JC Sport seconds after the final whistle. "This was about as comprehensive as it could've been," he said.
"I don't think Russ had a save to make. We took our chances well and were dominant. In the end, I think it all boiled down to our experience. It was NLR's first final and the fact they hadn't played for a number of weeks couldn't have helped them.
"They were as sharp as they have been and we took advantage."
NLR boss Phil Peters cut a dejected figure at the final whistle. He told JC Sport: "It was a difficult game for us which wasn't made any easier by the loss of Matt Stock in the build-up.
"That said we gave it a good go and were the better side for the first half hour, conceding against the run of play but not really capitalising on our possession and time in our opponent's half.
"The second goal was a sucker punch, right on the stroke of half-time caused by some tired defending and we didn't really recover. It was easy to see which team had been playing every week and which was seriously lacking in match practice, but we can't complain as the momentum helped us massively earlier in the season.
"The penalty was harsh - both because it took place outside of the box and contact looked debatable at best - however the game was already slipping away by then and in reality it was the final nail in the coffin.
"I was disappointed with our inability to threaten, but can't fault the efforts of the boys on the final day of what has been an incredible season for us. We'll learn a lot from it and with a couple of additions will come back stronger to challenge again on all three fronts.
"Congratulations to Hendon who will now go on to claim a worthy treble - they're good value for it and have obliterated the field proving that at present they are the strongest Jewish side out there at the moment."
HENDON: Russell Corin, Avi Korman, Ben Kon, Ari Nevies, Alex Rosenthal (sub: Yehuda Korman 59), Yoav Lebens, Ari Last (capt), Yoav Kestenbaum, Greg Corin, Yishai Last (sub: Avidan Last 70), Danny Kon (sub: Jacob Gold 77). Subs not used: Jeremy Reuben, Rafi Kon
Booked: Ari Last 12, Yoav Lebens 67
Goals: Ben Kon 28, Yoav Kestenbaum 45(+1), Ari Last (pen) 65
RAIDERS: Jake Doffman, Alex Block (sub: Justin Spiro 76), Josh Morris (sub: Rob Blackman 76), Josh Pistol, David Rhodes (capt), Elliot Espinoza, Jon Kay, Oli Henry, Ethan Zone (sub: Josh Green 60), Jamie Wolfson, David Dinkin. Subs not used: Matt Stock, Dan Grossman
Booked: Elliot Espinoza 12, Jamie Wolfson 59