JC BARRY GOLDSTEIN CUP SEMI-FINAL
UJIA 5 NORTH LONDON RAIDERS C 4 AET
UJIA will play Faithfold C in the final of this season's JC Barry Goldstein Cup following a semi-final tie that had everything - nine goals, a missed penalty and extra time.
The U's should have killed off the match with seven minutes remaining. 2-1 up with seven minutes to go, they then missing a penalty in the last two minutes and Raiders came back into it, forcing extra time during which they led 4-2 before a late UJIA comeback.
UJIA player-manager Darren Rolfe told JC Sport: "We should have put this tie to bed. But that's football and if you don't take your chances you may get punished."
A last-minute strike from Harry Franks who beat keeper Rolfe to the ball to head home from 12 yards took the tie into extra time.
Earlier, Gavin Sherman had pulled UJIA level in the 30th minute having gone behind to a free kick that was pushed out and converted by Toby Katz on the rebound.
UJIA experienced some bad luck as first Ben Sokel hit the post in the first half, and then Nick Russell hit the bar in the second half.
However it was JC Player of the Month Ben Nassim who put UJIA gave a deserved 2-1 lead - finishing off from
a Dan Roth centre eight yards out.
UJIA could see the the finish line and when Russell was brought down late on in normal time, they felt they could make the dream a reality. However Assi Avital blazed over and Raiders equalised to the tie into extra time.
The equaliser hurt UJIA and and they felt like a wounded animal, full of self pity and, consequently, their heads dropped.
Raiders moved into a 4-2 lead 10 minutes into extra time. A wonder free-kick and a cool finish in a one-on-one looked like it was enough to send Raiders through.
However, Roth got UJIA back into the game, finishing low from the edge of the box.
It was time to see what UJIA were made of. With eight minutes remaining, they went three at the back and three up top.
Alex Seligman's defence-splitting pass sent Roth clear with two minutes left and he coolly chipped over the on coming keeper, 4-4 and UJIA went crazy.
However, penalties were on the cards but enter Gary Chajet who has not played for 5 months and made himself a hero. Roth sent him through in the 118th minute and he beat the offside trap and coolly rounded
the onrushing keeper with his left foot and smashed the ball into the roof of the net with his right.
UJIA manager Darren Rolfe told JC Sport: "What a come back, I'm so proud of the whole squad who took part today.
"It was a thrilling contest and we look forward to meeting Faithfold on April 17."
Raiders manager Oli Shorts told JC Sport: "It was not meant to be. Everyone involved with the game felt dejected when the final whistle came.
"What I can say is how proud I am of this football club and the way that everyone of the players has such a fantastic attitude. We didn't win but myself and Rich are so proud.
"Credit to UJIA who over 120 minutes deserved to go through. However, when we were 4-2 up with 20 minutes to go we should have seen the game out.
"We were lucky to be playing extra time after UJIA missed a last-minute pen to go 3-1 up and then we went and scored a 93rd minute equaliser.
"The whole match was a joy to watch for anyone in attendance as it had it all. We will learn from this defeat and hopefully will be back to compete in the cup next season.
"It's great for the small teams like Raiders C and UJIA to have the chance to play at Wingate as you will always see the big boys in the Morrison and Anekstein finals.
"We have shown how we can compete with teams in the division above us and next season we will be a force to be reckoned with.
"Only the small task of Shirley Park and picking the lads up between now and Sunday. Good luck to UJIA in the final."