North West Neasden A 3-0 Hendon United A
Two goals from captain marvel Lee Cash helped North West Neasden A land the JC MSFL Premier Division crown after they overcame reigning champions Hendon United A at Bricket Wood.
Cash, who missed three months of the season with a hamstring injury, was back to his menacing best as a goal in each half saw Neasden end their six-year wait for the title. Having lost 3-1 to Hendon in a title-decider last May, and been beaten 3-2 by Jonathan Kestenbaum’s in the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup semi-final just a couple of weeks ago, Neasden clinched the championship at the first time of asking, and with a game to spare. And the victory saw them complete a league double over the team they had beaten 4-2 on the opening weekend of the season.
Hendon fashioned the first opening when a clever run from Josh Bentley saw last season’s player of the year find space to cross that was latched on to by the onrushing Motti Korman at the far post. He took a touch to compose himself but was denied by a brilliant save from home keeper David Fox who did well to get across his goal quickly.
Neasden forged ahead on 18 minutes. Daniel Cole sent over a cross that was met with a brilliantly executed volley from Cash. It was a finish straight out of the top-drawer. Neasden were clearly up for the occasion, knowing that the day would finish with champagne and silverware if they continued to boss the contest.
They looked sharper throughout and their ball retention was much better than last season’s champions who appeared to be playing within themselves and were unable to shake off last week’s shock cup defeat over Chigwell B.
The Hammers, who were clearly missing the drive, energy and direction of Josh Lipman, gave a better account of themselves in the second period and they came close to a leveller with Ari Last denied by the post. With the second goal crucial, Neasden opened up daylight on the hour mark as Cash bagged the goal of the game. Showing excellent close control on the edge of the box, his swerving effort looped over Berliner and flew into the roof of the net. Fox preserved his ninth clean sheet with another smothering save after former Neasden player Greg Corin crossed from the left for the industrious Korman to strike on the slide at the far post.
Supersub Adam Stolerman put the icing on the cake in the closing minutes after the irrepressible Cash found time and space to cross from near the corner flag. At 3-0 it was game over and Neasden’s celebrations started before the final whistle as they cemented the first part of a possible double and confirmed their first title since season 2001/02.
Neasden boss Jamie Cole, who also led Oakwood A to the title in season 2002/03, said: “We deserved to win the title, without a shadow of doubt. We’ve won the most games, lost the least, as well as scored the most goals and conceded the least. At the end of the season the table doesn’t lie.
“As for the team’s strength, the depth of our squad is second to none and team spirit is unbelievable. It’s not about the quality of the players, it’s about the spirit of the team. A special thank you must go to assistant-manager Daniel Fox without whom we wouldn’t have won the league.”
He added: “Now we all want more trophies. I have waited two years to win the Premier Division with Neasden but the challenge is to win it again. We still have the chance to win the double and I believe we stand a good chance. I’m so proud of everyone involved.”
Cash said: “We deserve this so much. We’ve fought hard week in, week out and it’s all the more satisfying after the heartbreak of the last two seasons. I must congratulate our defence on another clean sheet and our manager, Jamie Cole, who lives and breathes Neasden. He’s created an amazing bond among everyone and is like our 12th man on the pitch. I’m over the moon.”
Hendon boss Jonathan Kestenbaum said: “Neasden are worthy champions and we send them our congratulations. The match was the ultimate game of two halves. “Neasden dominated in the first half and we were very slow to start. In the second half we picked things up had eight good chances. But that doesn’t take away from the achievement of Neasden this year.”
NW Neasden A:
Fox 9, Levene 7, Shindler 8, J Ellis 8, Gottlieb 7, Sofier 9, Daggers 8, Cole 8 (sub: Ross 7, 81), Levenfiche 7 (sub: Platt 7, 75), Sher 7 (sub: Stolerman 60, 7), Cash (capt) 9. Subs not used: Marc Greene, Josh Rosenfeld
Hendon Utd A:
Berliner 7, Nevies 6 (sub: Kon 65, 6), Wreschner 6 (sub: Conway 59, 7), Rosenthal 7, P Bentley 6, J Bentley 6, Ari Last 7, Korman 8, Smulovitch 7, Corin 7, Avi Last 7