Jerusalem 3 England FC 2
The opening weekend of the 2011-2012 season pitted England FC, champions for the past two seasons against Jerusalem, the champions from three years ago.
With both sides featuring a number of talented players from the past two Olim World Cup winning teams, it was Moishe Lewis, making his league debut, who would put in a man of the match performance stealing the headlines against an England FC who went the whole of last season undefeated.
With the Saturday night kick off starting a mere hour or so after a long three-day Rosh Hashana Yom Tov, it was Jerusalem who looked the lighter, flying out the traps, with Lewis cracking a 20-yard effort against the bar.
Jerusalem dictated the opening minutes, and it was not long before Lewis found himself clean through to smash home the opener, sending the home side 1-0 up.
With the momentum going Jerusalem’s way, they looked to further extend their lead against a shell-shocked England FC.
However, it was England FC who would have the ball in the back of the net. Miscommunication between Francisco, the Chilean keeper making his league comeback after six months out with injury, and the defence saw the ball break kindly for Zac to slot the ball in.
The goal glavanised the champions, and they started pushing for a second. Francisco made up for his earlier mistake by making a couple of great stops, including one incredible reflex save to keep out Josh Portoi’s goal-bound strike.
As the first half drew to a close, Jerusalem broke and Lewis got himself between a defender and the keeper to poke the ball home for his and Jerusalem’s second.
The other notable performance of the first half was that of the referee. With no linesmen, he refused to give any offside decisions, and initially blew for half time 10 minutes early before allowing play to continue, albeit not for the full 45 minutes, following protests from both teams.
Not wishing to to be out done by his first half perfomance, the ref (although keeping control, much to the credit of both teams’ overall sporting behaviour) got worse, with some blatant offsides failing to be called, harmless fouls earning yellow cards for both sides, often to the wrong player due to the fact that ref was not keeping up with play, and corners and throw-ins becoming some sort of lottery as to which way the call would go. The only solace was that bad calls were going both ways.
A few minutes into the second half and the ref awarded a highly contentious penalty after Portnoi lost his footing, with the ref adjudging him to have been fouled by Raffy Wreschner, from a full 40 yards away.
Capitalising on the farcical decision, Yoni Sidi slotted home the spot kick to equalise. Ironically, later on in the game, the ref turned down a potential penalty decision for England FC, when Yarden appeared to be brought down on the edge of the area.
At 2-2, it was once again England FC in the acsendency, however the Jerusalem back four of Finchas, Preston and the veteran centre back partnership of Newman and Kosky lapped everything up, together with Wreschner playing in a deep holding midfield role.
As the game wore on, Jerusalem started to get back into the game, and Lewis hit the bar for a second time, following a header from a corner.
Lewis eventually completed his hat-trick when Ben Rosen’s perfectly weighted pass released the young debutant and with his head down, he took the ball past the last defender before rifling the ball home.
England FC pushed once again for a third equaliser in the last few minutes, however the Jerusalem defence stayed strong to see out a hard earned win and inflict England FC’s first league defeat for over a year.
Jerusalem: Fancisco Salgado; Yoel Finchas, Danny Newman, Dan Kosky, David Preston; Raffy Wreschner, Jose 'Misa;' Misael Garcia Guarneros (sub: Ben Rosen 70), Lolu Hibbert, Calev Ben-Dor (sub: Benzion Loonstein 60); Moishe Lewis, Eran Ben-Ari (sub: David Zackon 60). Subs not used: Benjy Gilbert, Simi Hibbert