PETER MORRISON TROPHY QUARTER-FINAL
South Manchester Sports Club 1st 5 Manchester Maccabi 1st 4
In one of the most incredible turnarounds witnessed at any level of football, South Manchester Sports knocked out the Peter Morrison Trophy holders Manchester Maccabi having trailed 4-1 with only 20 minutes left.
In a game that had everything from bad defensive mistakes, quality football, red cards and dubious refereeing decisions, it was perhaps fitting that Adam Lavin, who left Maccabi to join the South revolution, showed his class to roll in the fifth and deciding goal in the fourth of 12 minutes of injury time. This only tells part of the story of a pulsating cup tie.
Not many could foresee Maccabi's complete dominance when after 60 seconds Adam Jackson flicked in a Toby Levy free kick which keeper Dan Garman spilled into his net to give South an early lead.
However, Maccabi then proceeded to dominate in all areas playing football that showed they play week in, week out at a higher level despite their league struggles. By half time they led 2-1, with two goals from Lior Sidle both coming after defensive mistakes.
South made a half time double substitution bringing on Alex Koslover and Tom Cantor in place of Loz Newman and Marc Yaffe to try and bolster a midfield that was getting over-run.
Whilst it stemmed the flow the mistakes kept coming and Maccabi doubled their advantage with further goals from Alex Lee and Adam Stevens making it 4-1 with seemingly no way back as only 20 minutes remained.
However, South quickly reduced the deficit when Lavin poked in a Ben Peppi cross. Controversy then kicked in when a Levy corner rippled the net with some South players celebrating a goal and Maccabi insisting it had gone over. After consulting his assistant, the referee awarded a goal and at 4-3 the atmosphere changed completely with a previously dominant Maccabi completely imploding.
With 10 minutes left it became 4-4 as a Lavin flick was fumbled into his net for an own goal by keeper Dan Garman, who had been jittery all afternoon.
South now had the initiative and the substitution by Maccabi of danger man Adam Stevens looked even more foolhardy when Sidle sent a foul of foul and abusive language in the direction of one of the assistants and received a straight red card, leaving Maccabi with 10 men, no recognised forwards and gasping for extra time.
South were now completely dominant and Sam Cantor, returning after eight months out from a cruciate injury, was helping Lavin press the Maccabi back line into errors where previously they had been dominant.
In the 94th minute, Cantor forced a weak header which Lavin picked up five yards outside the area. He slalomed past two defenders and the previously imperious Michael Sacks slipped at the crucial moment as Lavin rolled the ball into the bottom corner to spark a full team pile on.
The referee played a further eight minutes but South ran down the clock to win the tie leaving their players to celebrate in stunned disbelief.
South Manchester manager Darryl Lee told JC Sport: “To be honest, it is rare to see such a dominant team lose, but I feel our spirit and fitness was superior at a key time of the game.
"Stuart and Tony were magnanimous in defeat and must wonder how it went so wrong after 70 imperious minutes.
"I think that it showed that Maccabi play at a higher level, but you have to keep going even after possibly adverse decisions. Remember they had a three-goal cushion and whilst they may have a genuine beef about the third goal, we scored three other good ones in a mad 20-minute spell.
"We have been poor in all the games so far in this competition, but have dug out results in each round and I am not sure why this is happening.
"We are now in the semis and will give it our best shot, but we cannot afford to keep giving teams the initiative as we will pay the ultimate price.
"This win was a great birthday present for me for tomorrow and is dedicated to Chris O'Brien, our coach who has left to work with Manchester United in Mumbai. I kept him informed throughout the game and we might fly him back for the semi-final."
Manchester joint-manager Stuart Delmonte told JC Sport: "It was the most incredible match I’ve seen in 52 years.
"We threw it away and only have ourselves to blame. We imploded. A few players texted me afterwards to apologise. We made critical mistakes at critical times and possibly mistakes from the management.
"We conceded the goal that never was when the referee overruled his assistant and two of the South players told me after the game that it didn’t go in. That knocked the wind out of us and gave them a second wind.
"We were leading 4-1, but in all honesty it could have been six or seven. But good luck to South Manchester. I hope they keep the trophy in Manchester."
Commenting on the winning goal by Maccabi old boy Lavin, Delmonte added: "It was a great goal from a great guy. He showed his class by not celebrating.
Co-manager Tony Rosenberg commented: "We snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The Peter Morrison means a lot to us and to lose in that fashion was heartbreaking."
Treble-chasing South will be looking to clinch the first part of a possible treble next weekend when they take on Bowler in the Handicup final at the Armitage. South will start the game 0-2 down.
Maccabi's last chance of silverware comes in the Brian Brockbank Memorial Trophy where they are at the quarter-final stage.