Jerusalem booked their place in the top division of the JC Olim League after beating Ra’anana 5-1.
The match was the highlight of a gripping final week of the open part of the Olim League in Israel before the eight teams split into two divisions.
The only fixture that would affect the standings was the match featuring Ra’anana and Jerusalem who occupied 4th and 5th places. The winner would go into Division One and the loser into Division Two.
David Preston fired Jerusalem in front early on after a neat move down the left. But the hosts came right back, and the attacking verve of their young attackers was soon rewarded when Eitan Aaronson capitalised on hesitancy at the edge of the Jerusalem box to plant a drive into the bottom corner.
The goal was a wake-up call for the visitors who realised they had a fight on their hands. But they rose to the challenge and found themselves back in front when Ori Kobi showed some sublime control, and although his attempted pass broke kindly to him, he showed characteristic composure to slide the ball home.
Jerusalem increased their advantage with the pick of the goals on the stroke of half-time. The ever-alert David Zackon latched onto a long ball over the top, took it over three defenders and finished with aplomb.
The second period was a rather drab affair. While Jerusalem's back four of Jonny Hadi, Dan Kosky, David Mocatta and Yoel Finchas were extremely solid in keeping Ra'anana's young guns at bay, and Misa Guarneros showed bite in the middle of the park, they generally failed to get their passing game going and were wasteful in possession.
Nonetheless, the hosts put the game out of sight midway through the half. Substitute Eran ben-Ari turned his marker and was bundled over in the area, with Zackon converting the ensuing spot kick. And the away side put gloss on the victory in the closing stages, with Eli Warner rewarded for his graft up front when his deflected effort looped in. Final score Jerusalem 5 – Raanana 1.
Elsewhere, Modiin hosted Aviv City in a thrilling encounter that had literally everything. The game got off to a scrappy start, with neither side being able to assert any control, or muster any goal attempts of note.
After 15 minutes, Aviv City boss Richard Binstock was forced to make an early substitution after Naor Cohen suffered a badly bruised eye, following a seemingly innocuous clash with a Modiin defender. And Aviv's luck went from bad to worse after 35 minutes when Alex Green bravely tried to head the ball but was met, instead by the knee of Modiin's Mark Chass, who had just nicked the ball away from Green's reach. Green suffered a suspected broken nose and Aviv, who had only brought one substitute to the game, were left to play out the rest of the match with 10 men.
Within minutes, Modiin had made the man advantage count when Sharon Attias strode through the Aviv defence and cracked in a crisp shot from just outside the area to give Modiin a slender lead to take into the break.
Modiin started the second half intent on taking full advantage of their extra man and indeed quickly doubled their lead with a Mark Chass headed from a fine Ilan Shmueli corner.
The 10 men of Aviv City were not going to give up without a fight, and their never-say-die attitude paid dividends when Roy Morik completed a nice move after 75 minutes.
Modiin were shell-shocked and did all they could to prevent Aviv scoring an equaliser but with just two minutes left on the clock, an Aviv City corner was cleared only as far as Navot Ben Asher who cracked in a lovely volley to send the Aviv fans into raptures.
The Modiin players looked deflated and one sensed that Aviv could even go on to win the game. Both teams battled to secure a winner and, at one point, the passion threatened to overflow as a bad Aviv City tackle, couple with a disappointing Modiin retaliation, left both teams to play out the closing minutes a man lighter.
Suddenly, with 93 minutes on the clock, this drama-packed match was turned once again on its head, when the ball dropped kindly for Modiin midfielder Jamie Lazarus on the edge of the box and he coolly slotted home an injury time winner for the home side. Incredibly, the scoring wasn't over yet and just a minute later, Modiin, restored their two-goal lead through Chaim Finn.
The third match of the night was between the top two, Ashdod and England FC, the latter looking to protect an unbeaten run and Ashdod, the league’s top-scorers, looking to continue playing their attacking football.
The Ashdod forward line looked lively but were controlled by Josh Hantman and Daniel Scott and most of the play was in the Ashdod half. Brad Bernstein went close when his header hit the bar and Daniel Scott had a goal ruled out for a foul on the keeper that was hotly disputed.
The move of the first half was a lovely seven-pass one-touch move that finished with Tal Stern forcing a great save from the Ashdod keeper down at the near post.
The second half followed the same pattern and again the Ashdod stopper was excellent with 2 1 on 1 saves from Yarden Bar Ness and Omer Rosen.
Ashdod managed to hold out and even nearly nicked a winner coming close with a great over-head kick that would have been a contender for goal of the season but the game ended 0 -0.