Match of the day sees Brady Maccabi A take on Brixton Old Boys A, while there's a whole host of mouth-watering action in the JC MSFL and JC Barry Goldstein Trophy. Danny Caro looks ahead to all the action.
MATCHDAY 26 OSCARS
JC MSFL SAVE OF THE WEEK
Chanania Engelsman (Hendon B) - losing 1-0 with a few minutes to go before half time, Engelsman pulled off a brilliant one-handed save diving to his left to keep his team in the game
JC ASSIST OF THE WEEK
Jonny Isbitt (Norstar B) - GOAL 1 - a drag-back and behind the leg flick to put the ball into Josh Gaon's path for the 1st goal
JC MSFL QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Phil Peters (Norstar A) - "Whilst I'd love Brixton to represent Division 1 in the Anekstein final – and wish John and the boys the best of luck - we could really do with Brady knocking the stuffing out of them!”
JC REFEREE OF THE WEEK
Andy Myerson (Glenthorne United A vs Hendon United Sports Club B
PETER MORRISON TROPHY SEMI-FINAL DRAW
South Manchester Sports Club vs Oakwood (Mar 18)
Brady A vs Hendon A or Hyde Park Rovers
CUP FINAL DATES
JC Barry Goldstein Trophy - April 22 - 2.30pm (Wingate & Finchley)
JC Cyril Anekstein Cup - April 22 (Wingate & Finchley)
Peter Morrison Trophy - April 22 (Wingate & Finchley)
YOUR WEEKEND PREVIEW STARTS HERE:
JC CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP SEMI-FINAL
BRADY MACCABI A vs BRIXTON OLD BOYS A
Hendon United Sports Club A await the winner of Sunday’s second JC League Cup semi-final featuring Premier Division Brady and first division Brixton at Rowley Lane.
A bumper crowd is expected for a match that should have absolutely everything – goals, crunching tackles and talking points, and it’s not surprise that Warwick Blake has been named referee for the match of the day.
Both teams are going great guns, with Brixton smashing home 26 goals in their last four outings. So the message is clear. Brady beware.
The Brady bunch warmed-up for the game with a sensational 8-2 victory over Southgate Harmen A. Striker Jonathan Green played out of his skin for the second consecutive match, while star striker Paul Hakim also appeared on the hat-trick heroes column.
Looking ahead to the early kick-off at the Lane, Rosenfeld told JC Sport: “Sunday is a big game and everyone is looking forward to it.
“Brixton are an excellent side and have already beaten two excellent Premier Division sides in this competition. We cannot under-estimate them.
“We know we can beat anyone on our day if we turn up with the right attitude and play the way we have we have been for the last few weeks.”
Rosenfeld describes the absence of TJ Keterman and Zak Presky as “a huge loss,” but is confident he has enough weapons at his disposal. Rosenfeld went on to say: “What I have noticed is we have majority of our boys fit and the squad looks much healthier.
“The only problem it does bring is me picking the side, which is a good problem to have.
“Let’s hope the game is played in the right way and it’s the football that does the talking on the pitch.”
Visitors Brixton really have nothing to lose going into the game and I expect Nitka’s warriors to give it their all. The Brixton boss was keeping his cards close to his chest ahead of the game.
I managed to get a few words with him out of his car window in Edgware. “As far as my team are concerned is that we have players unavailable and several carrying injuries, but I will put out a team that will give Brady a game,” Nitka told JC Sport.
“Yes I would love to win this and get to the final, but it’s a 50-50 chance as I feel both teams are evenly balanced.
“I also do not take too kindly to comments by another manager quoting “ good luck in one hand” and then saying “ we could really do with Brady knocking the stuffing out of them!” bearing in mind we have to play them twice which will affect promotion to the Premiership. I will deal with that issue on the pitch when we play Norstar Sunday week!
Clearly Nitka and co have some big fish to fry over the next couple of weeks, but he’ll continue to take it one game at a time, especially with the twin towers of Wingate & Finchley only 90 minutes away.
I can see the visitors giving an excellent account of themselves in a game that could be decided by which keeper has the better game.
JC team news: Brady are missing TJ Keterman and Zak Presky.
Venue – Rowley Lane, KO – 10am,
Officials – Ref – W. Blake, Asst-refs – M. Fox, Q. Fox
JC star man: Josh Hershman (Brady)
DC Prediction: Brady A 2 Brixton A 1
13 - Michael Pearson (Faithfold A)
12 - Danny Kon (Hendon A)
10 - David Dinkin (NL Raiders B)
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A vs FAITHFOLD A
Having conceded top spot to Lions last weekend, Hendon remain favourites to win the title as they have two games in hand over the boys from Rowley Lane.
For once, they are not looking down upon their rivals as they were forced to settle for a point in the entertaining 2-2 draw against defending champions last weekend. It needed strikes from Josh Bentley and the fast-improving Yoav Kestenbaum to help them come away from east London with a draw, although manager David Garbacz felt that with better finishing, they could have taken all three points.
The Hammers go in search of their 10th league win of the season on Sunday when they take on Faithfold A in Arkley. Garbacz and co will be looking to record a quickfire league double over their illustrious opponents following last month’s 2-1 success at the Hive, which came courtesy of strikes from Avidan Last and that man Kestenbaum.
Looking ahead to the game, Garbacz told JC Sport: “It is fast approaching squeaky-bum-time . Every game takes on enormous proportions at this time of the season and with Lions consistently winning, we know there is no margin for any slip-ups.
“Even the draw last week against Redbridge has put us under a little bit more pressure despite the fact that it was a decent result.
“We are playing well and the confidence and belief is high, but Faithfold always give us a very tough match as was proved a couple of weeks ago when we had to come from behind to claim all three points.
“They have quality all over the pitch and especially up front where we will need to be very conscious of the threat.
“It promises to be another close one on Sunday, but our current winning mentality could be the difference that enables us to edge them out once more.”
Faithfold are still smarting from a third consecutive defeat against North London Raiders B. Manager Zuriel Solomon will be looking for a positive reaction from his men in a game where the first 20 minutes will be crucial for the visitors.
There appeared to be some disharmony in the ranks last Sunday and keeper Ben Law has since gone on the record (on Twitter), saying that he’s looking for a new club for next season. Solomon will be hoping that the Superhoops show their true colours and make the big keeper think again.
Hendon are unbeaten in the league since September 11 and I really think Faithfold will have to pull out all the stops on Sunday.
JC team news: For Hendon, Ben Lauffer Paul Bentley and Dovid Korman are all doubts while defender Alex Gilbert is away.
Faithfold are still missing midfielder Alex Kaye.
Venue – Hadley FC, Ref – T. McEvoy
JC star man: Yoav Kestenbaum (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Hendon Utd SC A 3 Faithfold A 1
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE A vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B
Rob Richman, the Raiders boss, is down to the bare bones on Sunday as his team goes in search of an impressive eighth league victory in what has been an excellent first season in the Premier Division.
Under Richman, L’Orange have gone from strength to strength and they are sitting pretty in fourth after completing a league double over the almighty Faithfold A. And for good measure, they’ve completed a hat-trick of victories over the famous green and white hoops with another win coming in the cup.
Dan Grossman and David Esterkin were the scorers in last weekend’s 2-1 success. It was a welcome result for the squad beaten 3-2 by RJC the previous match.
But the chances of a revenge mission look slim when you consider the personnel missing for the boys from Brunel.
“We are very much the walking wounded this week,” Richman told JC Sport. “Unfortunately it’s that time of the year when the injuries and unavailability are at the worst.
“We still take a decent squad over to Fairlop and hope to give Redbridge a good contest as we did two weeks ago in our first match against them.
“Redbridge impressed me a lot two weeks ago. They have some very good players and, like Hendon, they have that ability to dig out results even when things aren’t going their way.
“We will try and match the commitment and desire we showed last week against Faithfold to get a result this week.”
Redbridge were involved in a ding-dong affair against Hendon last week. Adam Bolle put them ahead from the penalty spot, but they needed a wonder goal from the never-ageing Steve Summers to get them out of jail. However, it was not all good news as the red mist descended late on with brothers Adam Hakimi and Danny Hakimi sent off in the closing stages.
That said, the team performed well missing some key players and manager Eilon Kennet hopes to have some of his star performers back on Sunday.
Kennet will call for big hearts and cool heads on Sunday as last season’s double winners attempt to close the gap at the top.
They have gone five games unbeaten and will start as favourites on Sunday. The battle between Bolle and Summers and Rik Sherman and Grossman will be key.
JC team news: Raiders are missing Dan Polak, Shim Bensoor, Jonny Hesselberg, James Foley-Comer, Nicky Woolf and Elliot Espinoza. Keeper David Simnock travels with the team despite being a doubt earlier in the week.
Venue – Fairlop, Ref – D. Lazarus
JC star man: Danny Sugarman (Redbridge)
DC Prediction: Redbridge JC A 3 NL Raiders B 1
SOUTHGATE HARMEN A vs FC TEAM A
There was good news and bad news for Southgate Harmen this week. The good news was that they received three points for the postponement against North West Neasden A, taking them on to seven points for the season to close the gap on their relegation rivals. The bad news was that they lost 8-2 to Brady.
Put simply, Sunday is a must-win for Dan Uzan’s men. Alex Bourne and Ben Graham, arguably their two best players, registered in a game where they were second best throughout.
They start Sunday’s match five points FC Team, who have two games in hand. Pretty much the only thing in Harmen’s favour is the fact they don’t enjoy playing on 3G, but they have struggled to turn their pitch at Southbury Leisure Centre into a fortress, so the trip should hold no fears for Mitch Young’s men.
Young and co also know the importance of Sunday’s meeting. With a trip to North London Raiders A to follow, their destiny lies in their own hands.
Indeed Young has fond memories of the previous meeting with Harmen, FC Team’s first-ever victory in the Premier Division. Matt Drage, Simon Peterman and Jules Noti settled a five-goal thriller.
I’m predicting another goal-fest on Sunday in what looks set to be an end-to-end affair.
Looking ahead to the game, Young told JC Sport: “There is no hiding from the fact that this is truly a huge game. We will be looking for the win as it has been way too long since our last one.
“We know a win will put us in a great position going into the remaining few games.
“We have a cushion on the bottom two, but a win here will see that cushion extended.
“I believe six points will see us safe and that was our aim at the start of the season, so we will be giving it everything we have in this one.
“Harmen are still a very good side with the like of Davis, Graham and Bourne so we know it won’t be easy, but we have confidence in our squad and will be looking for the likes of Salmon Davidi and Edwards to win the game for us.”
JC team news: FC Team are missing Gideon Moss, Dave Ossack and James Korn.
Venue – Southbury Leisure Centre, Ref – M. Lavender
JC star man: Craig Edwards (FC Team)
DC Prediction: Southgate Harmen A 2 FC Team A 3
LONDON MACCABI LIONS A vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS A
A home banker looks on the cards as table-topping Lions A host lowly Raiders A at the Lane.
The Lions roared to the top of the table last weekend after playing Neasden off the park to register their ninth league win of the season.
Netbusters from joint-player-manager Josh Newman, Oli Craig and Joel Ross saw them run out worthy winners on the day.
It was their second consecutive 3-0 victory following the recent success over Raiders at Brunel.
I really like the look of Lions this season. They have a settled squad with a great balance of youth and experience and I can see them winning the title in the next two to three years. Few gave them a chance at the start of the season but they have let their football do the talking and credit to them for that.
In players such as Yoav Lebens, Ollie Leslie, my JC MSFL Player of the Week, and Alex Bowman, they have some real match-winners in their ranks. The evergreen Aviel Schwarz continues to pop up in various positions but he’s chipped in with some crucial goals. Stalwart Jacob Lew and Pete Lazard have formed a rock-solid defence, while keeper Sam Castle has turned into one of the most reliable custodians in the MSFL. It’s hard to find any chinks in their armoury.
Sunday is SOS Day for North London Raiders. They have four games left with supporters begging them to ‘save our season’. But the signs look bad as they have a really tough run-in. After the Lions game, they host FC Team A and Hendon before finishing at Brady. It’s a really tall order.
But until survival is mathematically impossible, L’Orange will do their all. It’s time for big performances and big hearts from 1-11. You can be sure they won’t go down without a fight.
The team has had a fortnight to reflect on the heroic effort in the JC League Cup semi-final against Hendon, when they were just seconds away from recording a famous win.
But not even a repeat performance may be enough on Sunday.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – N. Cooper
JC star man: Yoav Lebens (LML)
DC Prediction: LM Lions A 2 NL Raiders A 0
22 - Jamie Kent (Brixton Old Boys)
17 – Dan Orgel (Redbridge JC B)
15 - Josh Green (Norstar A)
WOODFORD WANDERERS vs CHIGWELL ATHLETIC
Bouncebackability is the name of the game for Chigwell Athletic on Sunday and manager Richard Slater shouldn’t have much to say before the big derby clash against Woodford in Redbridge.
The Chigs had a real horror show against Oakwood last Sunday, with keeper Marc Jacobs having a Weston Super. I’m expecting a big reaction from the team at the weekend.
The defeat saw them lose ground in the promotion race and they must pull something special out of the bag to close the gap on Norstar A and Redbridge B.
Player-manager Richard Slater told JC Sport: “We will bounce back on Sunday and prove last weekend was a freak result and a one-off performance.
“We haven't become a bad side in one week, but I need to see much more desire against a Woodford team on the up, and I'm sure are very keen to put one over on us.”
Woodford are virtually assured Division One football and Alex Aviram and his men deserve credit for getting their act together.
A home win on Sunday would virtually assure the Wanderers of at least two east London derbies next season and Aviram will be looking to pull out all the stops.
He told JC Sport: "We have never played Chigwell before so it should be an interesting derby.
“I would definitely say that we are a lot more good looking than Chigwell and clearly the best-looking side in the whole of the JC MSFL . In fact, Chigwell look like a bunch of donkeys with shin pads on!"
Woodford will be looking to enjoy the occasion on Sunday, while all the pressure is on Chigwell to come away with maximum points. It should be a cracker.
Venue – Redbridge Sports Centre, Ref – K. Gold
JC star man: Lee Hyams (Chigwell)
DC Prediction: Woodford Wanderers 1 Chigwell Athletic 2
20 - Doron Weinstein (Redbridge Jewish Care C - includes one for B team)
15 - James Gold (LM Lions B)
14 - Ben Simons (Faithfold C)
FAITHFOLD C vs LONDON MACCABI LIONS B
Quick question. What have Lionel Messi, Robin Van Persie and James Gold got in common? Answer. They are all in red-hot form. While the stats regarding Leo and RVP have been well- publicised, the facts and figures on the Lions hotshot have not. So, here they are.
Gold has in fact smashed home nine goals in his last four games. He is on the summer hit-list for virtually every team in the Premier Division and it probably won't be too long before Barnet and Wingate & Finchley send scouts to see him in action.
The Lions will be looking to make it five out of five against basement battlers Faithfold C on Sunday. And they will be bringing in the managerial skills of Geoff Springer to give a fresh perspective from the touchline. It could be another torrid 90 minutes for Faithfold.
Superhoops boss David Garson has done his homework on Lions after sending his scouts to watch them in recent weeks. As a result, he’s considering playing a Christmas tree formation in a bid to ensure that danger man Gold is starved of possession so he can unleash his own deadly weapons on the Lions.
Ahead of the game, Garson told JC Sport: “Following last week’s faultless performance and clean sheet, we will be looking forward to more of the same.
“Nic Viola returns from his paella course in Valencia and concerns that Charlie Resnick has bulked up on his two-week skiing extravaganza have yet to be proved, though centre back partner James ‘Jimbo’ Stanton is expecting to work extra hard. Dan Yossman again makes the trip from Manchester to help the team out.”
There is a danger that Faithfold will be too focused on stopping Gold, which could give Jonny Cutter a license to thrill. Stick you money on another Lions win.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – N. Cohen
JC star man: Jonny Cutter (LML)
DC Prediction: Faithfold C 1 LM Lions B 3
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE C
Title-chasing Hendon don’t expect to have too many problems registering their 11th win of the campaign when they welcome fifth-place Redbridge C to their west Hendon home.
The Reds returned to winning ways last week in a game where their character pleased joint-manager Motty Korman. Indeed, Korman was one of the scorers in the victory at Glenthorne, with Tali Nevies and Mikey Mendelsohn finishing the job.
Korman told JC Sport: “It was an excellent result for us last week and we showed our desire for promotion by coming from a goal down to win 3-1. But that will count for nothing if we don’t get three points on Sunday.
“We have four games left of the season and there’s still a lot to play for. There will be competition for places this week with a pretty much a full-strength squad - as long as there are no Purim hangovers!
“We are are points behind Camden with games in hand so we know that we can’t afford anymore slip-ups this season.
“Redbridge have had some good results this season and if they are on their game they can be a handful for any team, especially with the top scorer in the division.”
Dan Gordon’s RJC were hit for six at the end of 2011 when Nevies (2), Chaim Gothold (2), Raph Noe and Ben Kon eased Hendon to a 6-1 win at Fairlop. They have lost two of their three games since and Flash is doing his best to ensure they finish the season on a high.
The fact that they have yet to keep a clean sheet in the league this problems will indicate where they need to improve next season and I’ve heard the RJC gaffer is in the market for a reasonably priced no-nonsense centre half.
However, his priority is keeping hold of 20-goal hotshot Doron Weinstein who has indicated he could be set to move this summer.
But for now, Gordon must worry about how to stop Hendon and although they will huff and puff, I think the Reds will have too much on the day.
JC team news: Hendon top scorer RA Noe is unsure if he will be available due to the birth of his daughter this week.
Venue – West Hendon, Ref – S. Levy
JC star man: Tali Nevies (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Hendon Utd SC B 4 Redbridge JC C 2
NORSTAR B vs L'EQUIPE
It's incredibly tight at the bottom of Division Two ahead of Sunday's relegation six-pointer featuring Norstar B and L’Equipe.
The next couple of weeks could be pivotal in terms of who goes down with L’Equipe facing Lions B and Faithfold C, while Norstar take on Camden Park next week.
However, L’Equipe player-manager David Prager believes his team could be at a disadvantage this weekend.
Prager told JC Sport: "We can't wait for Sunday and have a full squad to pick form. I have noticed that Norstar A don’t have a game this weekend so it will be interesting to see how many of Philip Peters team start on Sunday.
"Looking at Norstar B results, it seems they only win with A-team players in the side. Even though this is well within the leagues rules it does leave a bad taste in our mouths.
"Having said that, we can't use this as an excuse and it will be up to my boys to pick up where they left off after our victory over Redbridge."
Responding to Prager, Norstar chairman and A-team manager Phil Peters told JC Sport: "If David spent more time worrying about his own team, and less about the opposition he might not be languishing at the foot of the table.
"If he'd rather Jonny turned up with nine players then that's understandable, but I think it's a credit to the hard work that we've put in establishing Norstar as a club that we can help each other out when we injuries hit.
"To be honest though, I think he's still bitter about the goal I scored against them two seasons ago where as he took me out I somehow got a shot away from 30 yards out that squeezed into the bottom corner..."
Josh Gaon and Bunt impressed for Norstar in the 3-2 defeat against Lions B last Sunday and the battle of the player-managers could hold the key on Sunday.
Looking ahead to the game, Stars boss Jonny Bunt told JC Sport: "I'm delighted that Mr Prager has done my team talk for me, because tactically it's hard to know how to approach the game. Still, we've been in cracking form of late and whatever the side we're well equiped to get a good result."
It's incredibly tough to call a winner on Sunday. L'Equipe have failed to win any of their eight away games this season – scoring only eight goals and conceding 33 times. However, all is not lost as the Stars have picked up only two draws in their seven home games.
I’m expecting an open and entertaining affair on Sunday, with goals aplenty, and if, as Prager is predicting, the Stars have that extra bit of quality, I can see them edging it.
Venue – Ark Academy, Ref – A. Yuchetel
JC star man: Josh Gaon (Norstar)
DC Prediction: Norstar B 3 L'Equipe 2
22 - Dan Hildebrand (Brady B - includes 7 for Faithfold)
18 - Terry Jeffries (Temple Fortune B)
17 - Edward Green (Athletic Bilbaum)
BRADY MACCABI B vs FC TEAM C
A Reiss Mogilner-inspired Brady B finished top of the pile last weekend following a 5-3 victory over FC Team C and Josh Dagul’s men go in search of a quickfire league double on Sunday.
Mogilner was the star of the show, scoring in each half plus one assist in a game where the Brady boys hit the target four times in the second half. Daniel Hildebrand and captain fantastic James Joseph sealed the win.
Interim assistant-manager Ben Wallis was delighted with the “passion and spirit to fight back and win the game,” as well as the “patience” shown to break FC Team down.
Jerome Colmans has excelled since going in goal, but he could do nothing to stop wonder strikes from Jacob Symons, James Cooper and Dan Rothman.
Since the match, FC Team boss Michael Myers has asked all his players to boost their fitness levels to ensure heavy legs don’t play a part in the closing stages second time around. He was bemused to see one or two blowing long before the final whistle.
The defeat was Team’s first defeat in four and Myers hopes his troops can play out of their skins for 90 minutes in a bid to keep alive their hopes of a top-four finish.
But I’ve said it before and I'll say it again. Brady have match-winners all over the park. With Mogilner and Josephs contenders for Division Four Player of the Season and the Hildebrand brothers in fine fettle, only a brave man would bet against Brady a seventh home win.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – A. Djanogly
JC star man: Ben Hildebrand (Brady)
DC Prediction: Brady B FC 4 Team C 2
JC BARRY GOLDSTEIN TROPHY
Shirley Park (Q) Pl, 2. Pts. 6
FC Team B Pl, 2. Pts. 3
NL Raiders C Pl, 2. Pts. 1
SPEC FC Pl, 2. Pts. 1
NORTH LONDON RAIDERS C vs FC TEAM B
FC Team B will look to cement qualification to the next phase when they travel to Hatfield to take on FC Team B on Sunday.
Emile Ben-Atar showed his namesake Heskey how it should be done with a match-winning double in their opener against SPEC FC last weekend.
Now manager Ben Simon and co will be looking to move a step closer to Wingate & Finchley with another win and clean sheet.
Raiders boss Oli Shorts will miss the game as he’s hit the continent on a mission to boost the squad with some European flair before the MSFL transfer window closes.
L’Orange know only a win will do to keep alive their hopes of going through and with the home fans behind them anything is possible.
So it will be left to Rich Abrahams to lead the team on Sunday. Looking ahead to the game, he told JC Sport: “With Oli away on a scouting trip to France, we'll be trying to make sure we've got a good performance and positive results for him to return to.
“With one point from our two games in the cup competition so far, we know what we need to do against FC Team B, but are under no illusions about how difficult it will be to get a result against a solid Division Two outfit.
“Our performances for the last few weeks have actually been very good and we feel we've deserved more out of games, so hopefully we'll get that rub of the green this weekend and take a decent scalp.
“Another rejig of the squad will be in order this weekend with a number of players definitely out for various reasons as well as Israel. Despite these losses, we're able to welcome back a number of players who have been missed over the last few weeks so we will be going into this match confident of getting a result.
“If we can perform like we have done the last two weeks, with a bit more cutting edge, I see no reason why we cant cause an upset. It's weekends like this that the magic of the cup is all about.”
JC team news: Raiders will give a late fitness test to Rob Samuelson.
Venue – Hatfield Uni, Ref – J. Feenstra
JC star man: Matt Keston (Raiders)
DC Prediction: NL Raiders C 2 FC Team B 2
SHIRLEY PARK vs SPEC FC
Having already clinched qualification, Shirley Park will be looking to maintain their 100 per cent record when they host Division Four promotion hopefuls SPEC FC.
We’ve yet to see the best of Dave Lusman’s men in the competition so far but they’ve managed to claim a couple of wins and start the weekend looking down on the other three teams in the group.
But if they think it will be a stroll in the park then they can think again as the SPEC boys know they must up the ante or else go home with their tails firmly between their legs.
Shirley have done well to maintain a level of performance with key men missing but it appears that the mind games have well and truly started.
Looking ahead to the game, Lusman told JC Sport: “With strong ties to SPEC FC, our boys have been told to take this one easy. Park are still not at full strength with Gideon Gold, Sacha Benfredj, Nicky Plotnek and the Birmingham contingent, to name a few, out due t injury or commitments of the field.
“Having said that, we welcome Stefan Benfredj and Dan Beckwith back to the fold. Both were sorely misssed last week.
“We expect a tough battle with SPEC FC at Gladstone. It’s a must-win game for them to stand a chance of qualifying.
“Park are goal hungry, especially after last week and we hope to walk away unbeaten in the group stages by the final whistle. Park life!”
With some important league games to come, SPEC FC boss Laurence Conway is keeping his fingers crossed that none of his star players pick up injuries. But that doesn’t mean they won’t be giving it 110 per cent.
SPEC’s Ricky Lawrence told JC Sport: “The general mood in the camp is one of disappointment given the situation we face going into Sunday.
“We all feel like we could and should have fared better in the cup and although we were drawn in a very difficult group, one point from a possible six isn't really good enough.
“We are hoping for a miracle come Sunda,y but stranger things have happened. We will have the radios at the ready as we await updates from the Raiders game.
“We know what we must do and if Raiders can help us as they try to help themselves then we would be delighted to pounce on any opportunity thrown our way. If not though we must look to the league again next week and make sure we improve our form in order to gain automatic promotion."
SPEC FC have been somewhat shot-shy this season. They had problems in goal early season but injuries have cleared so they must approach this game with no-fear and show real belief. After all, my Mondays are made all the more entertaining by reports from the Bananas press office.
The first 20 minutes will be crucial for SPEC FC. They must keep a close eye on Stefan Benfredj, Dan Beckwith and Saul Conway and show composure in the final third.
Venue – Gladstone Park, Ref – L. Benson
JC star man: James Segal (SPEC FC)
DC Prediction: Shirley Park 2 SPEC FC 2
Glenthorne Utd B Pl, 1. Pts. 3
UJIA Pl, 1. Pts. 3
Athletico Finchley Pl. 2, Pts. 1
Los Blancos Pl, 2. Pts. 1
ATHLETICO FINCHLEY vs GLENTHORNE UNITED B
Newly-crowned Division Three champions Glenthorne United B will be looking to taking another step towards the double when they make the long journey to Mill Hill to take on Division Four minnows Athletico Finchley.
A bumper crowd is expected at Copthall in a game where the odds looked stacked in Glenthorne’s favour, but Athletico chief Zach Margolin believes his troops are capable of pulling off the mother of all upsets.
Glenthorne were left frustrated last Sunday when their match fell victim to a late postponement, but their mood improved somewhat the following evening when they were awarded the points for another postponement that confirmed them as the top dogs in Division Three. And what with it being Purim as well, it would be fair to say that the team will be in good spirits come 10.30am on Sunday.
Looking ahead to the game, Thornes joint-manager Craig Sandford told JC Sport: “The championship champagne is well and truly on ice until the end of the season.
“No celebrations will be taking place as we still have a lot to accomplish. I have done my research on Athletico Finchley and they are a club that are looking to go places.
“They have young and enthusiastic players and management who will want to make headlines.
“We are aware that they have to win to progress further in the BG Cup, but we also have to win as the group is quite close and don’t want to rely on our final game.
“I anticipate a good game and look forward to the challenge.”
Athletico may well give Glenthorne the red carpet treatment and do the guard of honour before kick-off, but once that first whistle blows, I expect them to give as good as they get.
As Sandford says, they are an ambitious and talented team, with some excellent individuals, but the only way they will get something from the game is if they win their collective and individuals battles.
Margolin is excited about his lethal weapons back - Andrew Greenwall Cohen – the player he describes as his very own Rory Delap.
Ben Mandell has been the star man for Athletico this season and his head-to-head with Glenthorne’s Josh Wynne will be worth the admission fee alone, while Margolin hopes that keeper Doug Carson brings his A-game to the table.
Home fans are also looking for big things from Mikey Salem, Sam Collins, Aron Keller, Jack Wagner and recent signing Daniel Mattey, with manager Gideon Rabstein likely to adopt a low-risk strategy to avoid giving the Thornes any encouragement. It’s the kind of game where finding row Z will be order of the day, especially with the predatory Sandford, Fabio Revieccio and Dan Lassman for company.
Here is what Margolin told JC Sport at his midweek press conference. “This game has been in the back of our minds ever since the draw.
“Glenthorne are clearly best team in the cup, having just won the Division Three title. Therefore we know this will be our toughest game yet. However, we have nothing to lose and we are going to go for it.
“We have asked for loads of support on Sunday and hoping the fans could be our 12th man.
“Glenthorne will be very relaxed going into this fixture, which may work in our favour as it has in the past.
“This is our biggest game of the season, and with a big squad, and the desire the boys showed last week, who knows what can happen.”
There is little more for me to say than may the best team win.
JC team news: Sam Rosenthal and Sandford are hopeful of having a fully fit squad with the exception of defender Adam Shafron who is away.
Venue – Copthall, Ref – S. Ansher
JC star man: Doug Carson (Athletico)
DC Prediction: Athletico Finchley 1 Glenthorne Utd B 3
LOS BLANCOS vs UJIA
It’s win or bust for Blancos on Sunday as they take on UJIA for third time this season.
UJIA go into the game with the psychological edge having taken four points out of a possible six in the two league games.
Assi Avital has been the chief tormentor, scoring four goals over the 180 minutes and with Blancos having conceded twice against fourth division Athletico last Sunday, the big Israeli marksman must be licking his lips.
It’s also worth remembering that UJIA went all the way to Wingate last season, only to go down to Faithfold C in the final. Manager Darren Rolfe is keen for a return trip to the Harry Abrahams Stadium and, as long as they keep Dov Greenberg in check, I can see his experience team holding all the aces on Sunday.
Venue – South Oxhey, Ref – G. Silver
JC star man: Assi Avital (UJIA)
DC Prediction: Los Blancos 1 UJIA 3
Faithfold B (Q) Pl, 2. Pts. 6
Temple Fortune B Pl, 2. Pts. 3
Catford & Bromley Maccabi Pl, 1. Pts. 1
Jewventus Pl, 2. Pts. 1
JEWVENTUS vs FAITHFOLD B
Faithfold fans are still talking about that Ben Loftus strike in last week’s thumping 4-1 win over Catford.
With qualification in the bag, the pressure if off the competition favourites who are really enjoying themselves.
Richard Winton strengthened his case for the Player of the Tournament prize with another quality double, while the industrious Leor Harel also found the net.
Manager Rob Shooman and his right-hand man Ben Lewis, who is relishing the emotional return to Chase Lodge, were delighted with the second half display and they will be looking for the perfect 90-minute performance.
The writing looks on the wall for fourth division Jewventus. One point from four is not the kind of return player-manager Gabriel John was hoping for and he knows they will be on the back foot for much of the game against a team that drives forward with pace and tenacity.
John has put together a decent squad but they will need to play the perfect game and capitalise on the few chances that come their way.
There are still plenty of tickets available in the home end and fans will arrive hoping that Faithfold turn up happy to go through their paces. Otherwise damage limitation will be the name of the game.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – R. Benardout
JC star man: Ben Loftus (Faithfold)
DC Prediction: Jewventus 1 Faithfold B 4
TEMPLE FORTUNE B vs CATFORD & BROMLEY MACCABI
It’s winner-takes-all on Sunday as second-place Temple Fortune B entertain the Cats.
A win or a draw will see Terry Jeffries’s men book their place in the next round and they will be looking to put one over their higher division opponents.
Jeffries and two-goal hero Joey Glynne were the goal-scoring heroes for Fortune in last weekend’s 3-1 success over Jewventus and the pair will be out to cause more carnage on Sunday.
Having impressed for around 60 minutes, the the Cats were eventually put to bed by Faithfold B last Sunday, but there were enough positives for them to take away to believe they can get something from this game.
Joint-manager Adam Lewis told JC Sport: “We find ourselves in the somewhat unfamiliar position of having a completely full squad to choose from this week. With that in mind, we cannot wait for the game.
“Last Sunday, we more than matched Faithfold B for half the game and with a full squad we feel we've got enough quality to win on Sunday, as long as we play to our potential as we have done for the last few weeks.
“We know from last year, and from our scouting network, Temple Fortune B will be a very physical team and we're looking forward to a good battle, knowing that unless Jewventus can pull off the mother of all surprises against Faithfold, the winner of our game will go through.
“If you're going to pick out a danger man, it has to be Yonni Bord. He may not pass as much as some of his team mates would like, but when he's in full flow, there's not a team in the league who can stop him.”
I’m going to put my neck on the line and tip Catford to win.
Ref – H. Raffe
JC star man: Yonni Bord (Catford)
DC Prediction: Temple Fortune B 2 Catford & Bromley 3
Blizzard Storm (Q) Pl. 2, Pts. 6
NW Neasden C Pl. 2, Pts. 4
Athletic Bilbaum Pl. 2, Pts. 1
Team JLGB Pl. 2, Pts. 0
BLIZZARD STORM vs NORTH WEST NEASDEN C
The title of group winners is up for grabs as Blizzard Storm, the current leaders, get ready to rumble with Division Three rivals Neasden C.
Victories over Bilbaum and JLGB have put Simon Linden’s men in an excellent position but having booked their spot in the last eight, they are determined to finish at the summit.
Oli Simons and Stefan Simons added to their accounts in the 4-1 win over JLGB but it was a 30-yard wonder goal from Joe Stolerman that the Blizzard faithful were talking about over their Sunday roasts.
Bookies are offering 10-1 on Stolerman cracking home another beauty and it’s fair to say the feel-good-factor is in the Blizzard camp right now.
Loking ahead to kick-off, Linden told JC Sport: "We are delighted to be in the last eight of the Minor Cup. It’s extremely important that we beat Neasden on Sunday to top our group.
“I’m going all out for the win. We need a good draw in the quarters, so I’m asking for a big effort from us.
“We want to knock Neasden out. They are a side that will be one of the favourites in the competition and to knock them out would be good.”
Rumour has it that Linden has been in touch with boyhood heroes Chas & Dave, just in case they make it to the final. He’s already started penning the cup final song ‘When Speck goes up to lift the Minor Cup, I’ll be there, I’ll be there.’
Before he gets too carried away, Linden should be warned that neither Neasden A or B have a game this weekend, so an A-list celebrity from one of the top two divisions could be out to ruin his morning.
Louis Taylor’s troops have taken four points from a possible six against Bilbaum and JLGB and the gaffer will be quietly confident of finishing with a flourish.
I managed to grab a quick word with Taylor earlier this week. “We're struggling with fitness and availability, but whatever team we put out there on Sunday knows what we need - a draw and we're through,” he told JC Sport. “However, the Neasden C mentality is to win, and that's what we'll be aiming to do against a Blizzard side that we have a lot of respect for.”
Neasden have accumulated nine points more than Blizzard over 13 games, although the recent bore draw was a game both teams would rather forget.
Set-piece delivery could play a part on Sunday and as long as there are no jokers in the Neasden pack, I’m backing Blizzard to win a classic.
JC team news: Blizzard hope that Brett Freeman returns, otherwise Linden could start at right back. Stuart Muller will undergo a late fitness test while Ryan Colet away for one more week.
Ref – D. Cohen
JC star man: Brett Freeman (Blizzard)
DC Prediction: Blizzard Storm 3 NW Neasden C 2
TEAM JLGB vs ATHLETIC BILBAUM
Little more than pride will be at stake on Sunday when Division Three wooden spooners JLGB take on a Bilbaum team disappointed not to be challenging for a place in the last eight.
Rob Silverman’s JLGB brigade go into their penultimate game of the season keen to avoid defeat against lower division opposition.
The highlight of last week’s 4-1 defeat by Blizzard was a first JLGB goal for Rob Freedman. They were denied a second by the woodwork with Dave Mitchell denied by the post.
Getting out of Division Four is the priority for the Baums this season, although their destiny is out of their hands. Player-managers Mark Pasha and Edward Green will be looking for a morale-boosting victory ahead of important league games against Athletico Finchley and promotion rivals SPEC FC.
The Baums have been excellent on their travels this season - losing just once in the league – and I expect JLGB’s Rob Levene to be by far the busier keeper in a game that will be won and lost in midfield.
Venue – Peter May, Ref – B. Pieters
JC star man: Julius Judah (Bilbaum)
DC Prediction: Team JLGB 1 Athletic Bilbaum 3