The Maccabi League Rep Team suffered a comprehensive 5-0 defeat against the Turkish Football Federation at Wingate & Finchley on Tuesday night.
Having won their London Inter-League Cup opener 3-0 against the North London League earlier this month, Maccabi manager made two changes to the team with North London Raiders’ Adam Joselyn replacing the injured Ben Sollosi while Lewis Walker took over from Redbridge Jewish Care teammate Steve Summers in attack.
Right from the start, Maccabi looked unbalanced with big gaps between their midfield and attack. Their passing and touch was sloppy and keeper Dan Lee was forced into an acrobatic saved to keep out a dipping effort from 20 yards.
Maccabi momentarily sprung to life with the industrious Daran Bern showing great control to spin off his marker and force the Turkish keeper to tip his drive behind for a corner. A whipped in delivery from captain Alex Levack was headed over by Kyle Bentwood.
The visitors forged ahead with a soft goal on 18 minutes. Striker Adrian was given time and space to turn and shoot past Lee at his near post.
The Turks doubled their advantage seven minutes later when the unmarked Kori glanced home an inswinging free-kick past a flat-footed Maccabi defence.
Walker had a chance to halve the deficit. With just the keeper to beat, he was denied by a excellent save and was unable to tuck home the rebound after being muscled out by the Turkish defence.
The Turkish League opened up a 3-0 lead after 35 minutes with Adrian rising unmarked to plant a firm header into the top corner without a Maccabi defender in sight.
Things did not improve for Maccabi in the second half. Alex Taylor and Jacob Gold were brought on to replace Adam Joselyn and Walker but their evening got worse when Levack limped off injured and with Hendon’s Josh Bentley coming on.
But they were unable to stem the flow of goals as the Turks started to toy with them.
Maccabi were forced to play the last 28 minutes with 10 men after Bern hobbled off.
To add insult to injury, the Turks scored twice more in the last 10 minutes. Daniel went round Lee to place the ball into an empty net for the fourth, while Adrian completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot after a trip in the area.
Maccabi still have a chance of reaching the final. They have one round robin match remaining, against the Cypriot League but they were a pale shadow of the team who performed so well a couple of weeks ago.
Rep Team manager Danny Berg told JC Sport: “It’s been a night to forget. Our big players didn’t turn up
"Honestly we weren't at it last night. We came out and did really well for the first 25 minutes. Then we conceded a very soft goal, followed by two headers from set-peices to make it 3-0.
"Lewis Walker missed a great chance to make it 2-1 so the second half was always going be tough, especially only having 10 men for the last half an hour.
"At half time I told the boys to stay positive because I knew if we could get an early goal back then we were right back in the game, but it wasn’t to be."
Asked about the goals, Berg added: "I thought all three goals in the first half were very soft, two set-pieces and one which I thought our keeper could have done a lot better with. But he’s been great for me all season, so I can fault him as he’s been top draw. The fourth goal was decent and the fifth a penalty, on another night if we would have turned up I think it would have been a much different game.
"I was still missing quite a few players, but to be fair to the Turks they took their chances and goals win games so fair play to them."
With a place in the final still up for grabs, Berg is trying to remain positive. "We still have another big game to go and if we win we can make the final so there's alot to look forward to.
"You get games like that in football where you go a couple of goals down and nothing goes for you, but that’s football and everyone gets days like that, it just so happens it was ours last night.
"I’ve learned that we need to compete more and play like we did in the first game as a team.
"Of course we can improve. I'll have about five or six other players available for the Cypriot game who will definitely make a difference."
“I’ve seen better Turkish teams but if we win our last match we’re still in it.”
Maccabi League: Dan Lee, Motti Colman, Alex Levack (capt – sub: Josh Bentley 60), Kyle Bentwood, Alex Osper, Dean Nyman, Adam Joselyn (sub: Alex Taylor 40), Paul Babai, Josh Lipman, Daran Bern, Lewis Walker (sub; Jacob Gold 55). Subs not used: Dan Cohen, Jamie Wolfson