After a two-week winter break, the JC MSFL resumes with some mouth-watering action in league and cup.
JC CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP ROUND 3
BRADY MACCABI vs CAMDEN PARK
Brady Maccabi are one of the teams of the moment and I don’t expect Camden to cause them too many problems on Sunday in one of several cup ties held over from last year.
Josh Rosenfeld’s men have fired 23 goals in their last four games with Josh Hershman, Mark Smith and Steven Field bang in form. Field goes into the game in buoyant mood having bagged the JC Player of the Week award.
Having recently hit Camden for six, the Brady bunch were at it again last Sunday, when they mauled Lions C.
The cup could be a welcome distraction for Camden this week as they’ve lost their last four league games. Manager Justin Rockberger won’t be hitting the panic button just yet though, as he knows that the likes of Luke Brookner and some of the other young guns are more than capable of producing the goods.
But I can see Camden heads dropping if Brady grab an early lead as it’s clear that the odds are stacked in Brady’s favour.
Venue – Little Bushey Lane, Ref – B. David
JC star man: Ben Gershuny (Brady)
DC Prediction: Brady Maccabi 4 Camden Park 1
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A vs CHIGWELL ATHLETIC
One of the games of the day comes at Hadley FC where Division One leaders Hendon take on a strong Chigwell team.
Both teams go into the tie on the back of victories. The Hammers proved just too strong for North London Raiders A with Ben Kon and Josh Bentley seeing them home.
Missing Saul Conway, Dovid Korman and Avidan Last, the Hendon boys showed just what a class act they are with the likes of Ari Last and Alex Gilbert happy to stand up and be counted. And they even overcame the loss of keeper Russ Corin in the second half, with replacement Michael Slavinsky showing that not too sloppy in nets.
Chigwell laid their Montana A hoodoo to rest with a resounding 5-0 win. Glenn Michaels went home with the match ball after crashing home three of the best while Dan Castle bagged a brace.
Richard Slater, the Chigwell player-manager, knows that they will have to step up a notch or two if they are to live with a Hendon team in top gear. He told JC Sport: “We're away to the Premier League leaders and at present the best side in the MSFL, so we're all aware of how difficult the game will be for us, but we're on a good run of form at the minute. I believe in my players. It's great to have Dean Ben Yosef and Neil Tilley back in the squad.
“Confidence is high and the spirit is great so we'll go there and take the game to Hendon with nothing to fear.'
After the win over Raiders, I said that I felt that Hendon’s experience made the difference. I can see that being the case again on Sunday as although Chigwell will huff and puff for about 75 minutes, I think that class will tell in the end, but there may not be more than a goal in it.
JC team news: Hendon are without Saul Conway and Dovid Korman but Avidan Last and Motty Korman return from injury .
For the Chigs, Simon Felstein (work) and Marc Radzan (injury) are only two absentee's at present. Dean Michaels faces late fitness test while Daniel Castle also doubt if wife goes into labour.
Chigwell squad (from:) Adrian Bourne, Dean Michaels, Adam Shafron, Glenn Davis, Jon Swead (capt), Sam Rosenthal, Daniel Castle, Richard Slater, Michael Witzenfeld, Adam Conway, Russell Becker, Glenn Michaels, Mark Conway, Neil Tilley, Russell Yershon, Doron Weinstein, Dean Ben-Yosef, Paul Lenchner
Venue - Clitterhouse Playing Fields, Ref - M. Fox
JC star man: Adrian Bourne (Chigwell)
DC Prediction: Hendon Utd SC A 2 Chigwell Athletic 1
LOS BLANCOS vs HOLY MOUNT ZION
Two lower division teams battling for a place in round four go head-to-head here as Division Four promotion hopefuls Los Blancos welcome Division Three surprise packpage HMZ.
LB warmed up for the tie with a thrilling 4-2 win at Temple Fortune B. Adam Hersh put in an early contender for performance of the season. His display had manager Joel Minsky foaming at the mouth and, dare I say it, ask for a pay rise. The former Hendon front man has been in sparkling form since his big money move over the summer and he is the man I can see taking the fight to the Zion on Sunday.
And where do I start with JC Goal of the Week king Ariel Weinstein. Even proud mum Hilary nominated her little bubula after his sensational strike that was worthy of even more than JC Goal of the Week.It’s fair to say that the Vote for Ariel campaign worked as I received emails even after the voting had closed!
HMZ took advantage of a week off last Sunday with manager Rob Lerner treating the troops to a well-deserved training break in La Manga. I’ve heard rumours that star striker Danny Marti and Mario Mielniczuk were invited to play lead role in a Christmas panto at the team hotel. Local reporters told me that they are more Hoddle and Waddle than Shearer and Sutton., but I guess that better than being Canon and Ball!
Joking aside, the HMZ boys have taken Division Three by storm this season. They were written off at the start of the season but currently lie above a star-studded Redbridge C team.
However, I can smell an upset here with Minsky and co hungry for more JC silverware.
Venue – South Oxhey, Ref – S. Ansher
JC star man: Danny Sher (Los Blancos)
DC Prediction: Los Blancos 3 HMZ 2
NORTH WEST NEASDEN A vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE C
Cup holders Neasden have an easy looking tie against third division promotion hopefuls Redbridge C.
I’ve heard that Redbridge are taking 10 coach-loads to north west London in what is really their cup final.
Jamie Cole, the Neasden manager, is expected to rotate his squad and keep some of his big guns on the bench. Rumour has it that he’s given Lee Cash and James Gershfield the morning off.
Neasden suffered a heavy defeat against Lions last week, a result that hit them where it hurts. So I’m expecting a big reaction from them, although I don’t expect them to bring in the experienced Danny Daggers for the match.
Redbridge have had a good season so far. Promotion is the clear priority and I think it’s fair to say that come Sunday lunchtime, they won’t have to worry about the cup.
Ref – A. Fridkin
JC star man: Sammy Ross (Neasden)
DC Prediction: NW Neasden A 4 Redbridge JC C 0
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE A vs SHIRLEY PARK
It’s David versus Goliath at Fairlop on Sunday where Premier Division title hopefuls Redbridge welcomes Shirley Park of Division Four.
This tie has home banker written all over it and home fans have been encouraged to bring an abacus to keep tabs on the scoreline. After all, the Park boys were hit for six by Glenthorne B last Sunday so Daran Bern, Steve Summers, Lewis Walker and Ben Sollosi will be champing at the bit.
It’s been a great week for Sollosi who has made the GB squad for next summer’s European Maccabi Games squad in Vienna.
It’s worth remembering that Shirley have already beaten one Premier Division side in the cup this season, with Harmen A crashing out. Redbridge put Harmen to the sword on Sunday and I just can’t see them failing.
Gideon Gold, Sacha Benfredj and Jason Lindsay have been the star men for Shirley this season but I can’t see them getting any joy against a strong RJC back line.
It’s vital that Shirley don’t freeze or else they could be on the receiving end of one hell of a beaten with Sam McCarthy promising to play all his big guns.
Venue – Fairlop, Ref – A. Lewis
JC star man: Ben Sollosi (RJC)
DC Prediction: Redbridge JC A 8 Shirley Park 0
FAITHFOLD A vs SOUTHGATE HARMEN A
With Faithfold manager Zuriel Solomon away on honeymoon, Harmen will fancy their chances of completing a league double over a Faithfold team they stunned 2-0 in October.
Two goals from Alex Hershman put them in dreamland although manager Dan Uzan was keen to keep his troops grounded as they claimed their second major scalp of the season.
“We’re not going to get over-excited about the win,” he told JC Sport. “It was a great battle and Faithfold are obviously a top side.
“What I'm most pleased about is putting on that sort of performance without Ben Graham, Ben Murrell, Ben Forman, Lee Hyams, Craig Phillips and others. We have a squad full of quality players who can compete in this league.”
Compete is exactly what the boys from Southgate have done in their first season in the top-flight, although with Lions A and Neasden A starting to find their form, Uzan knows that there is still plenty to be done.
Wins over Neasden and Faithfold have given the Harmen boys bags of belief and I expect Uzan to have them well-organised and hard to break down.
That said, the biggest factor for Harmen over the second half of the season is scoring goals. They’ve registered just 11 in nine games and will do well to find a way past a Faithfold team containing Ben Law, Alex Taylor, James Frenner and Dan Howard.
The Superhoops have high hopes for 2011. They have made some top signings with Mike Pearson the latest star to come on board. Pearson drew a blank against Harmen for Lions on the opening weekend of the season but he’s already made up for lost time since putting on that famous green and white shirt. And with Alex Levack, Paul Babai, Jonny Haik and David Lederman looking to pull the strings and win the all-important midfield battle, I can see the former JC MSFL Player of the Year having plenty of chances.
Assistant player-manager Daryl Phillips will take charge of Faithfold. Looking ahead to the big match, he told JC Sport: "We are looking forward to facing Southgate Harmen after nearly a month of no football, and our boys are raring to go.
"We have a good squad avaliable and look foward to a good game with both sides needing the three points."
Harmen received a timely boost ahead of the crunch clash. As manager Dan Uzan explains: "We have craig phillips back for the second half of the season which is a real boost. Whenever he has played for us over the last couple of years he has been the best player on the pitch.
"Apart from that we are missing one or two - Elliott Wallis and Lee Greenfield, but we have a strong squad to chose from.
"Faithfold are obviously a strong team and will want revenge after we beat them last time round, but I'm confident we can get a result at the Hive on Sunday."
With home advantage and bags of experience on their side, I can only see one winner.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – The Hive
JC star man: Jonny Haik (Faithfold)
DC Prediction: Faithfold A 3 Southgate Harmen A 1
LONDON MACCABI LIONS A vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS A
It you’re looking for a good advert for Jewish football, then Rowley Lane will be the place to be on Sunday as the Lions tackle the Raiders.
L’Orange have claimed some big scalps in their first season back in the top-flight although a lack of experience means that they have lost as many as they have won. That is something that managers Adam Fegan and Danny Caro will be keen to iron out as of the four defeats, three have been by one-goal margins.
Experience is something that the Lions have in abundance, not to mention quality and Eilon Kennet’s troops will certainly have a point to prove following the 3-2 defeat at Brunel.
Having had a turbulent first few months as a result of an injury crisis, the Lions went some way to putting things right last time out when they thumped Neasden A 5-0. Jordan Marks was the star of the show and his head-to-head with Jacob Gold will be worth the admission fee alone.
Both teams are packed with talent from back to front and it could all boil down to which team takes their chances.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – A. Lewis
JC star man: Igal Yahya (Raiders)
DC Prediction: LM Lions A 2 NL Raiders A 2
LONDON MACCABI LIONS B vs NORTH WEST NEASDEN B
Lions B were glad to see the back of 2010. It’s common knowledge that they’ve been struggling for numbers, but I’d like to think that with the A team’s injury list easing, they will be able to put a competitive team out.
Revenge will be the name of the game for Dan Levy’s men who were beaten 3-1 by NWN on the opening weekend of the season.
Bradley Sharp (2) and Danny Daggers struck for NWN with Jon Green on target for Lions.
After the game, NWN joint-manager Sammy Carr told JC Sport: "It was nice to finally be back amongst the big boys of Jewish Football. Our commaraderie and desire to win shone through. We have the right mix of experience and youth and feel we can only get better with every game.
Levy responded: "It was a tight tough game with little between the sides, with Neasden edging the game after we conceded a couple of sloppy goals."
Lying just above the drop zone, Neasden know that three points here could be vital come the end of the season. And like Carr says, they have a nice blend of youth and experience and I expect their results to improve.
Ryan Glynne, NWN’s joint player-manager, said: “We expect another tough game but want a positive result . we will fight for the points and hopefully come out with something
“Everyone is fit. The only absentee is Zack White who is topping up his fake tan sessions with a holiday. Other than that, everyone really looking forward to getting back on the pitch.”
It’s hard to know exactly which XI will turn out for the Lions and there’s every possibility that Neasden could prosper with a hand-me-down from the A-team who have a home banker in the cup. That said, with Alex Bowman back from Eilat and keeper Ed Bloom back to full fitness, they shouldn’t need too much help.
It’s Neasden for me.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – M. Lavender
JC star man: Alex Bowman (NWN)
DC Prediction: LM Lions B 0 NW Neasden B 2
FC TEAM A vs MONTANA BOCA UNITED A
There’s a massive game in store here as an out-of-sorts Montana travel to an FC Team side playing catch-up.
Montana go into the game knowing that their fading promotion hopes will be dealt a fatal blow if they drop any more points. It’s fair to say that chairman Raymond Harrod is glad to see the back of 2010 and he hopes that the turn of year brings with it a change of luck.
FC Team will go into the game with a slight psychological edge having beaten Montana 2-1 earlier in the season, when they started like a house on fire – winning their first five league games.
Player-manager Mitch Young would be the first to admit that 2010 did not finish brilliantly for his troopsl, but as Dan Cohen, the Montana keeper told JC Sport: “You don't become a bad team overnight.”
Cohen added: “They're going to be really up for this game and look to get their season back on track. However, this is a big game for us if we want to be in and around the promotion slots come May. We'll be looking to start 2011 on the front foot and be positive."
It should be a cracker.
JC team news: For Montana, Trevor Henen, Tom Miller and Phil Jessel are all expected to be fully fit following their ankle injuries and could all be pushing for a place in the squad. Zaki Kramer should return following his injury to bolster the central midfield. Shuey Mirwis will be hoping to push on from his excellent start at Montana, while Craig Edwards will be looking to turn good form and assists into goals.
Rumours are rife about Rep Team keeper Dan Cohen's Montana future, and The Boca will do well to keep hold of him come the end of the transfer window. Cohen may look for a move to a Premiership club, although JC sources have heard that he's looking to referee rather than play regularly.
For FC Team, former Montana defender Mitch Green is expected to miss out against his former club due to a rib injury. Gideon Moss continues on his long road to recovery following his broken ankle, while Richard Salmon will be looking to kick on and improve his Rep Team chances.
I’m not predicting a goal-feast here and think that just one goal will settle it.
Venue – Old Camdenians, Ref – L. Benson
JC star man: Ollie Segal (FC Team)
DC Prediction: FC Team A 1 Montana Boca Utd A 0
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE B vs LONDON MACCABI LIONS C
There’s a massive relegation six-pointer at Fairlop Waters on Sunday as basement battlers RJC and Lions C rumble in the jungle.
The Lions start the game two points better off but they have played a game more than a goal-shy RJC team.
Jamie Kyte’s troops have fond memories of the last meeting when goals from James Gold (2), Sam Senchall, Shai Davidi and Adam Kosky set up a 5-1 demolition.
After the game, LML assistant-manager James Gold commented: "It feels good to win again. It's been a long time coming and what a great team performance. It would be unfair to single anybody out as all 13 players were fantastic.
"Previous results may not have gone our way, but our team spirit is the best in any team I have ever played for.
Kyte was delighted to prove his critics wrong but the pressure is still on.
One of the things I like about RJC boss Mike Winehouse is his honesty. He came away from the game saying: “We have to start again. We are on the hunt for new players to improve our small squad and give us a more competitive side for division one.
"When you bring players up three divisions it's always going to be a fight and without four or five more players we could continue to struggle.
Six weeks have passed us by and Winehouse is ready for action. He’s hoping the Fairlop faithful gets behind his team.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Winehouse told JC Sport; “We need three points. Nothing else will be good enough.”
I’m expecting an open and entertaining affair. May the best team win.
JC team news: RJC will be missing Darren Brown but they have everyone else available.
Venue – Fairlop, Ref – K. Gold
JC star man: James Ryan (RJC)
DC Prediction: RJC B 1 LM Lions C 2
BRIXTON OLD BOYS vs FC TEAM B
Damage limitation could be the best way forward for FC Team B on Sunday.
Beaten 2-0 by Brixton on November 21, I expect John Nitka’s men to arrive in confident mood, ready to fill their boots.
Nitka knows that the league is a marathon and not a sprint. Having won the Division One title with South Mancs not so long ago, he’s delighted with the progress made by his talented and committed team.
So, what are his hopes for Sunday? He told JC Sport: “We are looking forward to playing a game after the last few weeks of postponements. At this time I have no injury worries so hopefully we will maintain our winning streak.”
FC Team have lost seven out of eight and it’s clear that they need reinforcements. A 20-goal striker would certainly give them a lift right now although I expect them to do just about enough to stay above Marylebone and L’Equipe.
Venue – Clowes, Ref – A. Myerson
JC star man: Michael Posner (Brixton)
DC Prediction: Brixton 4 FC Team B 0
FAITHFOLD B vs NORSTAR A
I’ve always been a great believer that points in the bag and better than games in hand. That is the scenario facing these two sides as leaders Norstar travel to fellow high-flyers Faithfold B.
That said, the Superhoops go into the game with a slight psychological edge after their heroic 4-2 victory over Phil Peters’ men last time out.
Daniel Hildebrand 2, Seth Green and Joe Levi clinched three valuable points with Norstar replying via strikes from the in-form Simon Perlmutter and the red-hot Eli Houri.
The result earned Rob Shooman, the Faithfold boss, JC Manager of the Week, and left Norstar gaffer Phil Peters wondering just what had hit him.
Peters told JC Sport: "This was a deserved victory for Faithfold who clearly wanted it more than us as the game went on. If they can get that team out each week then they'll certainly be up there come the end of the season and will hopefully take some points of the other guys fighting for the title."
As a club, Faithfold now have an array of strikers to rub shoulders with the best. Recent acquisitions include Mike Pearson and Jonny Blain, leaving them with an embarrassment of riches. So if Peters thinks he will get an easier ride on Sunday, he can think again!
So if you’re fed up of the sales, I suggest you pop down to the Hive. It should be a thriller.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – R. Bernardout
JC star man: Seth Green (Faithfold)
DC Prediction: Faithfold B 2 Norstar A 2
FC MARYLEBONE vs HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B
Having started the season with title ambitions, Hendon will be hugely disappointed with the first half of their season. The bottom line is is that the table doesn’t lie.
Five defeats in their last seven is hardly top-of-the-table form, especially when you consider that they’ve played seven games.
The good news is that they have already played all the teams above them once and they will be looking for easy pickings at Regents Park on Sunday.
Hendon fans have certainly got value for money this season with plenty of goals flying in at both ends. But until they find a mean streak and stop opponents scoring, it’s hard to see them climbing the table.
But if you think that things are bad at Hendon, then just take a look at Marylebone’s record. Five defeats in six means that they lie at the bottom of the pack but the only saving grace could be that only one team will go down at the end of the season.
There’s no need to go on. You catch my drift. Otherwise, this might become more depressing than Eastenders!
Venue – Regents Park, Ref – R. Cahill
JC star man: Gav Noe (Hendon)
DC Prediction: FC Marylebone 1 Hendon Utd SC B 4
WOODFORD WANDERERS vs L’EQUIPE
Catch-up is the name of the game for the Woodford boys, and they couldn’t have asked for an easier start to 2011 than strugglers L’Equipe at home.
Alex Aviram’s men have played just six league games to date and ahead of Sunday’s first meeting with an out-of-sorts L’Equipe, you have to fancy them for maximum points over the two games.
Having beaten a Division One team in the cup, it’s clear that the Wanderers are well-equipped for bigger and better things. The only thing that surprises me if that rarely do they score a sackload. That could all change here.
Woodford have made themselves very difficult to beat. They are strong, physical and aggressive and are very hard to penetrate.
At times Woodford’s football is sublime which is no surprise when you consider that they have the likes of Mitch Hahn, Jamie Golding, Elliot Gold, Jerome Marks, Darryl Green and Aviram in their ranks.
The biggest challenge facing Aviram is keeping hold of his star men with Redbridge and Chigwell reportedly targeting Hahn and Marks in the January transfer window.
Assuming he keeps hold of them, this one could be over by half time.
JC team news: Injuries continue to stress and haunt Wanderers boss Aviram, who is still unable to field his strongest 11. The following miss out: Andrew Levy (ankle), Elliott Winner (hamstring), Harrison Midda (travelling) while Samm Pearey faces a late fitness test. Aviram said that the "biggest blow is star centre back Paul Shone who declares himself unfit with a back injury.
Venue – Redbridge Sports Centre
JC star man: Jerome Marks (Woodford)
DC Prediction: Woodford Wanderers 4 L’Equipe 0
GLENTHORNE UNITED A vs CATFORD & BROMLEY MACCABI
I’ve heard reports that long-time leaders Glenthorne over the festive period but managers Dan Lipman and David Blitz have set a strict curfew ahead of Sunday’s game in Chigwell.
The Thornes have the look and feel of champions this season and I can’t see the Cats posing too many questions here.
They have fast become an immovable force with Lipman leading by example. Five consecutive victories have put them in a very strong position, although they finished 2010 in second place, on the heels of Faithfold C.
Lipman is warning against complacency though as they only edged past whipping boys Zig Zag 2-1 last time out. And they have yet to keep a clean sheet. That must be one of their aims on Sunday. The other must be to treat their long-suffering fans with some fantasy football.
Catford appear to have already written this one off. I don’t blame them. Captain Adam Lewis told JC Sport: “After an extended lay off and with loads of players unavailable, we're just looking forward to having a bit of fun playing a game on Sunday. We have no expectations.”
At least they won’t be disappointed come Sunday lunchtime!
Venue – Old Chigwellians FC, Ref – D. Lewis
JC star man: Josh Cohen (Glenthorne)
DC Prediction: Glenthorne Utd A 5Catford & Bromley 0
NORSTAR B vs TEAM JLGB
Two teams looking to forward to returning to action are Norstar and JLGB.
The Stars are odds-on completing a league double over a side they thumped 5-0 in October with goals from Jonny Kaye, Adam Seres, Josh Gaon, Rafi Addlestone and Josh Green.
Jonny Bunt’s men have been going about their business quietly and efficiently and I expect them to do more than enough here.
“We’re very excited to return to action after a few weeks rest,” Bunt told JC Sport: “Our trip to Norstar’s warm weather training camp in Mallorca was cancelled so we’ve been training on the beach like Stanley Matthews and Jeremy Elster have done in history.”
Bunt suggested that the Stars “might be drafting in some cover in centre midfield, with last season’s regular pair Paul Wolfson and Larry Martin looking like long-term absentees.
However, he remains confident of steering the team towards their top five. “We have managed this season with them only playing together once, so I have faith in the squad. We also have goalie Jonny Evan back to full fitness having played through the pain before Chanukah.
“We are targetting 12 points from January, with all four games against the four sides we’ve beaten already three of which sit below us in the table - so expectation is high that we can enter squeaky-bum time in a strong position and then who knows?”
JLGB are keen to forget their first half of the season. Manager Rob Silverman believes that it’s better to look forward. They go into the game joint-bottom and the chances are that this will be a tough 90 minutes for his troops.
Silverman told JC Sport: “Team JLGB are hoping for a change in fortune after the winter break. A dismal first half of the season only brought three points. My objective for the season are now to avoid relegation and is hoping to make an immediate start by avoiding defeat to Norstar this Sunday.”
Only a minor earthquake can stop Norstar here.
JC team news: JLGB defensive rock Paul Rich and midfield maestro Justin Freedman. Neil Lux has a long term injury and Ian Levy will be missed taking a break from the game after becoming a father.
Over the coming weeks, Paul Black and Oli Shoffren will be making long-awaited returns and Rob Silverman is confident of picking up enough points against the other struggling teams to reach his new objective.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – P. Dobkin
JC star man: Rafi Addlestone (Norstar)
DC Prediction: Norstar B 4 Team JLGB 0
HEATH BANTA vs UJIA
Ben Nathan’s Heath Banta have been kicking their heels for several weeks now but it’s not been all bad though as they look to get back on the winning trail.
Star striker Stefan Simons spent the festive period watching some Liverpool classics on ESPN and has rediscovered his love for the game. He had two dreams over Chanukah. One was for a white Xmas- which he got. The other was for a new strike partner who could do all his running. Rumour has it that he’s still waiting as the club chairman has apparently reneged on his promise to bring in the quarter-Jewish David Beckham due to a lack of pace.
So there’s every chance that Simons will take his frustrations out on UJIA – a team they have yet to meet in the league.
Prior to the 7-3 defeat at the hands of RJC C, Heath Banta were flying. They remain firmly in the mix but must ensure that there are no slip-ups here.
After a dodgy start, UJIA picked up in recent game with player-manager Darren Rolfe’s big investment paying dividends.
UJIA have no game this week so I expect them to give 200 per cent here. But when push comes to shove, that may still not be enough.
Venue – Hampstead Heath, Ref – A. Djanogly
JC star man: Stefan Simons (Heath Banta)
DC Prediction: Heath Banta 2 UJIA 1
REAL LIFE vs ZIG ZAG
DJ Neal Cohen, the Zig Zag manager, must feel like a dead man walking right now.
The wheels have well and truly fallen off his beloved Zig Zag machine and for the first time in a long time, Cohen admits that the writing is on the wall. However, he’s a fighter and I don’t expect him to give up without a battle. Don’t rule out a red letter day request for David Beckham to take over the club. Funnier things have happened.
At time of writing, the papers say that Roy Hodgson, Carlo Ancelotti, Avram Grant and Gerard Houllier are next in line to get the sack. Cohen isn’t in the betting at the moment, and it’s common knowledge that he has Zig Zag blood running through his veins. But don’t be surprised if travelling fans turn up with banners saying Sack the board!
Not for one second am I suggesting that Cohen has lost his marbles but he’s predicting an 8-0 victory. Admittedly, he has a full-strength squad for the first time in a long time and if anything, a trip to his beloved Edgwarebury Park might just bring out the best from the Zed men. There has been an improvement in recent performances, taking leaders Glenthorne and UJIA to the wire.
Things have not been much better for Real Life, although they will be lifted by the news that Zig Zag have not won away all season. Seven consecutive away defeats has left them with it all to do, and that will be music to the ears of Charlie Bernstein, Dan Markeson and co.
Jamie Beaumont’s men failed to muster a win in the first half of the season. They picked up just three points from their opening nine games, but they have a real chance here.
Real have only really been hammered twice this season and they have scored in every league game.
I’m predicting goals galore in this one and the bottom line message that both managers will tell their teams just before kick-off will be this. It’s time to deliver.
Venue – Edgwarebury Park, Ref – D. Nathan KO: 10am
JC star man: Josh Toff (Real Life)
DC Prediction: Real Life 3 Zig Zag 4
BLIZZARD STORM vs GLENTHORNE UNITED B
There’s a real new year treat in store here as joint-leaders Blizzard and Glenthorne go head-to-head.
Simon Linden, the Blizzard boss, averted a goalkeeping crisis earlier this week by signing Oli Simons to fill in for the absent Nick Rubin.
The experienced stopper could not have asked for a tougher debut as he comes up against Fabio Revieccio, the division’s top-scorer.
While his counterpart, Elliot Coulton stubbornly insists on talking down his side's title credentials, Linden is relishing the contest. “What a huge game to enter the new year with,” he said. “It’s the type of game my players want to be involved in.”
Although Blizzard are one of the teams that has been worst affected by the cold snap. Linden is confident that a lack of match sharpness will not hamper their plans ahead of their biggest game of the season.
“I'm proud of how well we have done so far,” said Linden. “The strength in our squad is very good; any other season we would be sitting nice and clear at the top. However six teams could win this division. It’s tough with so many good sides.
“Glenthorne have been that little bit better so far, all I can ask is for 110 per cent and hopefully that will pull us through.”
Both teams have been highly impressive so far. Glenthorne have scored more and conceded less but after making the long journey around the M25, their efforts over the party season might just hold them back.
JC team news: Blizzard are without Adam Nathan, Joe Stolerman and Nick Rubin.
Ref – S. Levy
JC star man: Oli Simons (Blizzard)
DC Prediction: Blizzard Storm 2 Glenthorne Utd B 2
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB C vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS C
There’s been a lot of soul-searching going on in the Raiders camp over the festive period.
Rumour has it that chairman Jonathan Adelman raided his loft to find some uplifting music to play in the changing room ahead of kick-off in West Hendon on Sunday. So far, he’s found Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Dusty Springfield and Gladys Knight’s greatest hits, and rumour has it that manager Oli Shorts is hoping to bring one of the divas in to raise the roof ahead of next week’s match at home to Neasden C.
Shorts is believed to have told one reporter that Raiders’ early season form is killing him softly but he will keep strumming away in a bid to put things right and guide the team up the table.
One of the problems facing Shorts this season is that Division Four is of a particularly high standard this season with the top teams more than capable of mixing it in Division Two. There are some hugely talented and experienced players at the likes of Glenthorne, Blizzard, Inter, Hendon, Shirley and Jewventus and the new-look
Raiders side has taken time to find their feet. That said, I have no doubt that they will get it right, and it’s worth remembering that they’ve had encouraging results against Shirley and Blizzard of the teams above them.
Looking ahead to his first game of 2011, Shorts told JC Sport: "Hendon have shown they are a top team. One look at the league table would suggest that this is a home banker and I'm happy to go into this game as the underdog.
"Our last two results against Jewventus and Inter have shown that we can compete with the top teams and it's now a matter of turning those performances into wins. This might not come on Sunday but I've got a great feeling for the second half of the season.
"We've made a few acquisitions over the winter and I believe that I'm now looking at the strongest squad I've had to pick from this season. Bring it on!
Hendon were the model of consistency at the back-end of 2010. Eight straight wins have lifted them up to third with 19 goals flying in over the past three games.
They go into their first meeting of the season against L’Orange as strong favourites, especially as it’s on their patch.
Benny Goldberg (3), Moishe Noe (2), Zvi Noe, Benji Israel, Michael Mendelsohn and player-manager Avi Gelley were the marksmen last time out, when they put Pinner to the sword with a 9-1 demolition.
Although they are odds-on to win, Gelley is taking nothing for granted. “I just hope that we haven't lost momentum during the break,” he told JC Sport. “It has been a long time since we last kicked a ball in anger!”
The biggest factor for me is the goals department. Hendon are scoring for fun while the Raiders’ find goals harder to come by. Added to that, they’ve not enjoyed the best of fortunes at the back and it’s for that reason that I’m tipping Hendon to come out on top.
Venue – West Hendon, Ref – N. Burns
JC star man: Steve Keller (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Hendon Utd SC C 3 NL Raiders C 1
INTER BOREHAMWOOD vs JEWVENTUS
Eight points separate Inter and Jewventus going into this Serie A derby with Oluseun Thomas’ boys tipped to take maximum points.
Inter have been the model of consistency this season, living up to their pre-season billing.
Lying two points off top spot, I expect them to kick on over the second half of the season. They have won their last four games, the last of which was over a month ago when strikes from Adam Lenz (2), Jerome Colmans and Scott Ackerman steered them past Raiders C.
Buoyed by the return of Joel Lassman, following an eight-week spell on the sidelines, Thomas will take a full-strength squad to Mill Hill. It’s sure to be a big squad with midfield maestro Jerome Colmans admitting that one or two players may have added a pound or two following a hectic Chanukah around the doughnut table!
Gabriel John’s Jewventus have scored in every game and the gaffer predicts “a tough game against a good side who we fared well against pre-season”.
The battle between the returning John and Colmans in the middle of the park will be key to the outcome. And as for his hopes, John told JC Sport: “I want three points, but it’s a big ask!”
I’m backing Inter to edge it.
Venue – San Siro, Ref – R. Caplin
JC star man: Joel Lassman (Inter)
DC Prediction: Inter Borehamwood 2 Jewventus 1
NORTH WEST NEASDEN C vs ATHLETIC BILBAUM
Goals will be on the menu here as mid-table battlers Neasden C and Bilbaum prepare to do battle.
Both teams have experienced highs and lows this season with the 7-2 victory in the corresponding fixture the highlight for Louis Taylor’s Neasden. In fact, Taylor went home with the matchball that day and he’s hoping for more of the same on Sunday.
Taylor told JC Sport: “We know that teams can be revitalised with new players and a fresh start after new year, so we will be guarding against complacency this Sunday. We hope to win to push on in a division we can still make a difference in."
There’s also a buzz around the Bilbaum camp. As Josh Ejdelbaum, the Athletic boss, told me: “After an unconvincing first half to the season, we’re looking for an improvement and some more wins in the new year. There are unconfirmed rumours of players flying back from New York and Malta just for Sunday's game, but we'll have to see if they make it!
The battle between Bilbaum front man Edward Green and Taylor is key.
JC team news: For NWN, Adam Levene is still out injured, Jamie Isenwater and Dan Travers are recovering well from their broken wrists but are not ready yet. Nick Garfen faces a late fitness test due to over-eating on his honeymoon and a strong dislike for the cold.
Venue – Hadley FC, Ref – L. Thorne
JC star man: Aron Lewis (Neasden)
DC Prediction: NW Neasden C 2 Athletic Bilbaum 2
TEMPLE FORTUNE B vs PINNER JFC
Vivian Emanuel, the Pinner manager, is on a mission. He is looking to rewrite the MSFL history books and become the first man to help his team avoid the wooden spoon after going into a new year bottom of the table.
The Pinner boys have huffed and puffed their way through the season so far and Emanuel is confident that there will be light at the end of the tunnel.
“After the home match was postponed as a result of the snow, we’re really up for the battle against local rival Fortune. With players like Ashley Levy and the old guard at Fortune playing for us last year, we would like to think we know how this team works. But you never know, there are always some surprises.
“We are all ready for the second half of the season and cannot wait to get on the pitch. After having three games cancelled, and not playing for five weeks, we feel that we are ready to battle hard again as we did before our humiliating 9-1 loss to Hendon C last time out.
Emanuel is another manager interested in signing David Beckham. Adding fuel to the fire, he said: “Rumours are that David Beckham is joining Pinner on loan. Somewhere down the line he is quarter Jewish so perhaps David will say is OK ... better us that Spurs!"
This battle features the division’s least prolific scorers against the worst defence. The absence of Marc Herman will hurt Fortune but joint-manager Rob Jay remains upbeat. He told JC Sport: “I think our squad is big enough to still put out a strong team, and we hope to start the new year with a win.”
Like a Jimmy Anderson delivery, this is one that could swing either way!
JC team news: Pinner welcome back Theo Gluckstein from injury and hope that Jordan Segal’s end-of-year trip abroad has not left him “bloated and lazy”. Emaunuel adds: “We need his strength and speed to rip through teams this year. With three possible signings we are looking to bulk up our squad. However we are still looking for players so if anyone is bored at home or sick of being on the bench week in, week out then give us a try!””
Fortune will be missing Marc Herman, Gavin Levy and Ollie Squires.
Venue – Hatch End Playing Fields, Ref – P. Lavelle-Maurice
JC star man: Theo Gluckstein (Pinner)
DC Prediction: Temple Fortune B 2 Pinner JFC 3