There semi-finals of the JC Barry Goldstein Trophy take centre stage on Sunday as UJIA, Blizzard Storm, Neasden C and Glenthorne B battle it out for a place at Wingate & Finchley. Elsewhere, there is action in all five divisions of the JC MSFL. Danny Caro looks ahead to all the big match action.
PETER MORRISON TROPHY BRADY MACCABI A vs HENDON UTD SC A
DIVISION 2: CAMDEN PARK vs HENDON UTD SC B
DIVISION 4: BRADY MACCABI B vs NL RAIDERS C
CUP FINAL DETAILS
JC Barry Goldstein Trophy - April 22, 2.30pm - Wingate & Finchley
JC Cyril Anekstein Cup - Hendon Utd SC A vs Brady Maccabi A - April 22, 6.30pm - Wingate & Finchley
Peter Morrison Trophy - Hendon Utd SC A vs Oakwood - April 29 - Wingate & Finchley FC
JC BARRY GOLDSTEIN TROPHY SEMI-FINAL DRAW
UJIA vs Blizzard Storm
NWN C vs Glenthorne B
- Games will be played April 1
MATCHDAY 29 ANALYSIS
JC MSFL GOAL OF THE WEEK
Craig Sandford (Glenthorne B)
JC SAVE SAVE OF THE WEEK
Russell Corin (Hendon A)
JC QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Craig Sandford (Glenthorne Utd B)
JC REFEREE OF THE WEEK
Andy Myerson (FC Team A vs North London Raiders B)
YOUR WEEKEND PREVIEW STARTS HERE:
JC BARRY GOLDSTEIN TROPHY SEMI-FINALS
UJIA vs BLIZZARD STORM
UJIA will have experience on their side when they welcome Division Three rivals Blizzard to the Lodge on Sunday.
Last season’s BGT runners-up have been there, seen it and done it at the semi-final stage and this could play a factor in proceedings.
Striker Assi Avital will be looking to maintain his record of scoring in every BGT match this season. The Israeli hotshot has looked back to his best this season and having played at Wingate in his Golders Green days, I’m sure the old maestro will give some words of advice to his teammates before kick-off.
Avital popped up with a crucial late winner as the U’s stunned second division FC Team B into submission last weekend. Manager Darren Rolfe singled out midfielder Ashley Freeman, Tony Plaskow and Avital for praise after the game and he’s been preparing his troops for the challenge of a Blizzard team they’ve already beaten twice this season.
Looking ahead to the crunch clash, Rolfe told JC Sport: "Sunday is a huge game for the U's. We are hoping there will be a repeat of last year’s semi-final and we march on into Wingate on the April 22.
"We know Storm very well as they have a few ex UJIA players in their camp. They have been on a good run of late and they will be well up for the challenge.
"Linden's has already told me that he will be reminding his players how we beat them 8-2 at the Chase earlier on in the season.
"I think this encounter will be much closer this time and our focus will be on how we attack them.
"We were superb last week against Division Two opposition - peppering their goal and with Assi Avital leading the line we will always score goals.
"He has scored 14 this season and has scored in every round of this Cup. Ben Nassim has scored 13, so between them 27 goals is a good and dangerous partnership."
Blizzard have been one of the form teams in 2012. Their league form has picked up while they have won four out of four in the BGT.
Dean Shaw, Joel Stolerman and Michael Woolf were the goal men in last weekend’s 3-1 win over Temple Fortune B.
Manager Simon Linden has been a hard man to pin down this week. I’m guessing he’s keeping his tactics and formation close to his chest, whilst at the same time contemplating whether or not to start himself. Either that or he’s lining up some fancy, shmancy phone deal in case the Storm progress and he can set up a live Skype link-up to Blizzard fans overseas.
It's clear that Linden and co are up for the cup. The Blizzard gaffer told JC Sport: "Sunday is one of the biggest games this club has been involved in.
"If we can get to Wingate, it will be a proud moment for us in our short period as a football club - along with promotion last year - a cup final to go with it would be a great achievment.
"UJIA is a tough game. They have had a couple of very impressive results in this cup, but form goes out the window on Sunday. It's one game and it's going to be close and very tight.
"I fancy our chances, but know we will have to be at our best. I know Rolphy will have his team well up for this. He lost at Wingate last year and will want go be back there.
""I have other scores to settle. The last two Minor Cup semi-finals I have been involved in I have lost, including one playing for UJIA. Bring on Sunday!
Blizzard striker Stefan Simons added: "Going to Wingate would allow me to show my kids that winning stuff is not just what other kids' dads do ..."
I can see this being a tight, yet entertaining affair, with just one goal settling it. Linden may want to look away now as I’m tipping the U’s to nick it with experience proving crucial on the day.
JC team news: Alex Seligman misses out through injury for UJIA, but they are otherwise at full strength.
For Blizzard, keeper Nick Rubin misses the tie, as does skipper Adam Speck. Oli Simons is expected to stand in as keeper. Blizzard are otherwise at full-strength.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Officials - Ref - S. Ansher, Asst-refs - L. Thorne, M. Cowan
JC star man: Darren Rolfe (UJIA)
DC Prediction: UJIA 3 Blizzard Storm 2
NORTH WEST NEASDEN C vs GLENTHORNE UNITED B
It’s the clash of the titans on Sunday as Neasden C welcome Division Three champions Glenthorne B. And surprise, surprise, this match has already sold out.
Neasden go into the tie on the back of a terrific victory over competition favourites Faithfold B last Sunday.
Strikes from Benjy Gourgey and Ricky Rinder were the goal men in last weekend’s glorious 2-0 victory over favourites Faithfold B.
Although the Thornes have accumulated 13 points more than Neasden, and claimed a narrow win over them, league form will go out of the window for the next 90 minutes.
Looking ahead to kick-off, Neasden player-manager Louis Taylor told JC Sport: “It’s a massive game. We're all dreaming of a Wingate final, but we know what we have to do.
“We’re full of confidence from our quarter-final victory, but we know we'll have to play as well, if not better, to go through against an excellent Glenthorne B side.”
Another moment of magic from joint-player-manager Craig Sandford earned Glenthorne their fourth victory over Shirley Park this season, as they came through a well-contested quarter-final clash.
Sandford is the favourite to open the scoring on Sunday, although he will have his work cut out trying to get one over Neasden’s star performer – Adam Levene. Neasden finished that game with 10 men and it’s vital they maintain discipline at all times.
Running the team with Sam Rosenthal, top-scorer Sandford was delighted with the team’s reaction and character against Shirley.
“Bouncebackability was the name of the game last week and we did it,” he told JC Sport. “After suffering a rare defeat, I asked the players to step up against a good Shirley Park team and prove that it was a one-off. They gave everything and more and we walked away victorious.
“That win now sees us in the semi-final of the cup and one match from Wingate. The stakes are high for both teams and I predict a very tight game.
“We have only played Neasden once this season and there was only one goal in it. They have been on a good run and are capable of beating anyone.
“Focus and passion is what we’ll be asking for and if they follow through with those requests then I hope a cup final will beckon.”
There is a chance Neasden could sneak Yoni Raeburn into their starting XI, and that would really make things interesting, but Glenthorne are not Division Three champions for nothing, and I can see them doing just enough on the day to book a dream ticket to Wingate.
JC team news: Neasden have an “almost full-strength squad to choose from, with late fitness checks due on Louis Taylor (bruised rib/fractured wrist) and Ali Marks (damaged ankle).
The Glenthorne squad is looking “healthy” and Andy Levy has made himself available after six weeks out injured.
Here are some pre match odds from the Neasden C camp:
Simon Levene to get booked - Evns
Louis Taylor to use more than two clichés in his pre-match teamtalk – 4-1
Adam Levene to scream at Jon Benjamin to get into position – 2-1
Oli Joseph to score a hat-trick – 8-1
Benjy Gourgey to forget his money again - BETTING SUSPENDED
Craig Sandford (G) – 7-2
Daniel Lassman (G) 9-2
Oli Joseph (N) – 5-1
Benjy Gourgey (N) - 10-1
Josh Wynne (G) – 10-1
Venue – Fairlop, Officials - Ref – A. Lewis, Asst-refs – A. Russell, A. Yuchetel
JC star man: Andy Levy (Glenthorne)
DC Prediction: NW Neasden C 1 Glenthorne Utd B 2
JC MSFL PREMIER DIVISION
Relegated: Southgate Harmen A, North London Raiders A
13 - Mike Pearson (Faithfold A)
12 - Danny Kon (Hendon A)
BRADY MACCABI A vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS A
Both Brady and Raiders will be down to the bare bones when the teams go head-to-head at the Lane on Sunday.
There will be nothing more than pride riding on the game, with Brady safe and looking forward to the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup final, while Raiders were relegated after the 3-3 draw against FC Team A last time out.
Brady go into the game on the back of a 2-1 defeat in the semi-finals of the Peter Morrison Trophy. Defender Jonny Ellis was the scorer in a game they felt unlucky to come out second best in.
Josh Rosenfeld, the Brady boss, told JC Sport: “We are all still gutted about the defeat last week and it’s all about how we bounce back.
“We still have plenty to aim for this season and it needs to start with a win on Sunday
“This club this year had all been about our mental strength and Sunday is a big opportunity to show how strong ours is.”
A quick glance at Raiders’ team news will tell you all about their problems this season. They have been stretched all season and the quality hasn’t been there on a consistent basis.
Enjoyment will be the name of the game in their last two games of Premier Division football and they will be looking to give a good account of themselves in what will be their third match of the season against the Brady bunch.
No doubt, there will be enough quality in the team for L'Orange to believe they can get something from the game.
JC team news: Brady are missing injured strikes Paul Hakim and TJ Keterman, while Lee Platt is suspended. Keeper Oli Colmans is away and Josh Gordon faces a late fitness test.
Raiders are missing keepers Danny Berliner, Dan Cohen, Stuart Simons, Danny Bloom, Matt Leader, Matt Stock, Michael Sacks, Adam Posner, Oli Henry, Dan Levy, Mayer Schultz, Adam Joselyn, James Fattal and Alex Olcot, along with long-term casualties Joe Tankel and Andrew McMaster.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – J. Feenstra, KO – 10am
JC star man: Josh Hershman (Brady)
DC Prediction: Brady A 4 NL Raiders A 2
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B
Hendon took another big step towards the treble last weekend when they held off the challenge of Brady to book their place in the final of the Peter Morrison Trophy.
With two diary dates at Wingate & Finchley confirmed, the focus returns to the bread and butter of the league for a match against Raiders B.
Although Ari Last and Avidan Last fired the goals that set up a clash against Oakwood on April 29, Hendon boss David Garbacz singled out centre half Josh Lipman and midfield maestro Ben Lauffer for special praise in what was arguably their toughest of the season.
As we approach the business end of the season, Garbacz knows that Hendon’s destiny lies firmly in their own hands, and he expects them to pick up another three points on Sunday.
Garbacz told JC Sport: “After the last two weeks of tense cup action it is back to the bread and butter of the league.
“We are four points behind Lions, but with games in hand, although those games will be irrelevant if we don't pick up good points in them.
“Raiders B proved a real handful when we played them first time around and we will be treating them with full respect and expect another tough game.
“They have had a really good season in establishing themselves in the Premier League. I'm sure they will fancy their chances of pulling off an upset, but we are full of confidence at the moment and we know how vital a win is to close the gap at the top.”
The defensive pairing of Dan Grossman and captain Rik Sherman has been one of the many success stories at Raiders B this season. They are like chalk and cheese. But boss Rob Richman knows it will take a real team effort to frustrate Hendon and get something from the game.
Last weekend they suffered their seventh defeat of the campaign and Richman and co will go all out to ensure they experience another loss, which would mean they’ve lost more than they’ve won this season, so Hendon must be on their guard as Raiders are keen to go out with a bang.
It’s worth remembering that this Raiders team has completed a league double over Faithfold A and their motto is ‘the bigger they come, the harder they fall.
Richman told JC Sport: “We are all very much looking forward to our last game of the season on Sunday. It has been an excellent season where we have surpassed the aims we set ourselves.
“While we have had exceptional results against the teams below us in the table, we have yet to taste victory against any of those above us. Sunday is our last opportunity and we will aim to give Hendon a really good game.
“We are well aware of the talented side Hendon possess and we will respect them, but we will also try our very best to come away from Hadley with some points to show from our efforts.”
And if L’Orange can achieve what looks like mission impossible, it wouldn’t surprise me if Richman receives a bottle of bubbly from his counterparts at Rowley Lane.
That said, Hendon are coming into the final straight and they show no signs of taking their foot off the gas. If anything, they are coming into their own with the likes of keeper Russ Corin, Alex Rosenthal, Rafi Kon and Greg Corin expected to play lead roles. Added to that, it’s been a while since striker Danny Kon grabbed the headlines and I can see him testing the Raiders backline with his pace, power and movement.
JC team news: Hendon right-back Motti Colman has gone on Aliyah. Manager Garbacz has everyone else available.
For Raiders, top-scorer David Dinkin falls one game short of playing in every minute of every game in a season as he is away in Israel. Other than Dinkin and long term absentee James Foley-Comer, Raiders have a full squad to pick from.
Venue – Hadley FC, Ref – M. De La Fuente
JC star man: Danny Kon (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Hendon Utd SC A 3 NL Raiders B 1
NORTH WEST NEASDEN A vs FAITHFOLD A
Neasden go into their final game of a disappointing with one thing on their mind – three points.
The battle between two of the MSFL’s giants sees Neasden looking to complete a quickfire league double over a Faithfold team they beat 3-1 last weekend. Danny Daggers was the star of the show.
Strikers Marc Lazare (2) and Lee Cash did the damage and they will be looking to clinch the points that should be enough to help them cement a top-four finish, which would still be an under-achievement for a club of their size, strength and quality, but respectable nonetheless.
Looking ahead to Sunday, NWN joint-manager Darren Yarlett told JC Sport: “Lee and I were very impressed with the way the lads played last weekend and got a deserved victory.
“This is our last game of the season and we hope to sign off with another win. Having said that, we know Faithfold will want revenge for last week.
“This season has been a mixed bag. The aim was to improve on the last one - where we finished second from bottom and on nine points – and if we reach 29 after Sunday then we can’t have to many complaints. It’s just a shame the cup runs were slightly disappointing.
“It’s been enjoyable and I’m sure Neasden will bounce back even stronger next season.”
Faithfold have slipped badly in recent weeks, with their last victory coming on January 8. Defeats against Raiders B, Redbridge, the aforementioned one against NWN and two against Hendon means they will fail to repeat last season’s achievement of a top three finish. But fifth place is well within their grasp.
Manager Zuriel Solomon gave an honest assessment of his team in this week’s press conference. He told JC Sport: “With nothing to play for, we have been going through the motions and need to step our game up.
“We can’t seem to get a win which would give everyone a lift and have been playing catch-up in all our recent games.
“We hope to be able to name a good squad, but won’t know till the end of the week.”
I can see this being a typical high-octane Faithfold against Neasden affair with bags of quality and effort. I can also see it resulting in another Neasden win.
JC team news: Neasden hope to welcome back keeper Max Shields from suspension. Danny Cole plays his first game of the season as he is back for the week from New York. Neasden are otherwise much the same from last week.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – A. Myerson
JC star man: Bradley Sharpe (NWN)
DC Prediction: Faithfold A 1 NW Neasden A 3
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE A vs LONDON MACCABI LIONS A
Table-topping Lions A will look to maintain their four-point lead when they make the long journey east to third-placed Redbridge in the JC MSFL match of the day.
The boys from Rowley Lane are in the middle of an excellent nine-match unbeaten run that has seen them go through the last 360 minutes without conceding a single goal.
But they face a real test against a Redbridge team managed by Eilon Kennet, their former manager.
Keeper Sam Castle and defenders Pete Lazard, Jacob Lew and Ollie Leslie have been on top of their game in recent weeks, with the evergreen Lazard, 49, popping up with a couple of goals for good measure. It’s clear that he can still teach the youngsters a thing or two.
The Lions have really come into their own since the turn of the year and manager Malcolm and Josh Newman deserve huge credit. They didn’t talk up their hopes at the beginning of the season and continue to go about their business in a calm, confident and efficient manner, with professionalism the name of the game.
Captain Yoav Lebens, Aviel ‘Peter Pan’ Schwarz, Oli Craig, Joel Ross and Alex Bowman have been among the other star performers.
Indeed the team is playing with pace, power and most importantly, a smile on their face and it would be fair to say that confidence has never been better.
Meeting last season’s champions in the league for the first time this season, the Newmans know that they will have to be on their guard against a multi-talented Redbridge team. Adam Stolerman, Steve Summers, Adam Bolle, Josh Kennet, Daran Bern, Dan Lee and Adam Hakimi are just some of the star names in their line-up.
With the return trip to Rowley Lane next weekend, the Redbridge boys believe they can finish the season above the Lions and three points on Sunday would go along way to achieving that goal.
Kennet will be out to prove a point and it’s worth remembering that the east Londoners are unbeaten in seven.
I think that Sunday will come down to small details, with composure in front of goal and work-rate right up there.
Venue – Fairlop, Ref – S. Levy
JC star man: Danny Hakimi (RJC)
DC Prediction: Redbridge JC A 1 LM Lions A 1
More to follow ...
Relegated: Southgate Harmen B
22 - Jamie Kent (Brixton Old Boys - includes goals scored for Brixton B)
17 - Dan Orgel (Redbridge JC B)
OAKWOOD vs TEMPLE FORTUNE A
Newly-crowned champions Oakwood will be given the guard of honour before Sunday’s final league game of the season against Fortune.
Both teams go into their final game of the season with plenty to be cheerful about. As expected, the Oaks wrapped up the Division One title with a 3-1 victory over Harmen B, while Fortune ensured Division One football again next season with a thrilling win over Woodford. So there could be a real celebration feel about the game.
Striker Jason Lindsay pushed his claims for a starting place in the Peter Morrison Trophy final with a brace and he will be looking to impress once more.
Looking ahead to the match, Oakwood joint-manager Ric Blank told JC Sport: “"As ever, we're thoroughly looking forward to Sunday. It's a game we're determined to enjoy and I hope we can put in a fitting performance as champions.
“We never expected to win the league with a game to spare so it'll be unusual for us but we'll prepare as normal and will be putting a strong side out regardless.
“We are playing to win and end our league campaign on the high it deserves.
“Fortune gave us a tough game at the Hive in December so we'll be on it and up for it.”
Although there has been a relaxed feel in the Fortune camp in the build-up to the game, the Fortune management team of Lee Fegan and Jack Morris will tell their troops they have nothing to lose once that first whistle blows.
Fortune’s Jack Morris told JC Sport: “We are both very much looking forward to the match on Sunday. The pressure is off on both teams, so we expect a good game and a party atmosphere!
“Our aim for this season was to stay up and we’ve done that. Perhaps it was a bit more nerve-wracking than it should have been after Montana folded, but we are staying up and looking to build for next season.
“We have a few players away for Sunday, but to be honest we just want to go out and enjoy ourselves this weekend. You may even see myself and Lee starting up front!
“Both myself and Lee would also like to offer our congratulations to Oakwood on the magnificent season they are having. They’re by far the best team in our league and deservedly are going up as champions.
“They also have a Peter Morrison final coming up which is a fantastic achievement for a first division club and we wish them all the best in that.”
It’s vital that Oakwood momentum their momentum right up to the final. I think they will try to fly out of the blocks and completing their six league double.
JC team news: For Oakwood, Antony Kintish is away, as are the Geeys (Dan and Matt), but other than that they have a full and strong squad to choose from.
Venue – Parmiters, Ref – R. Benardout
JC star man: Dan Abrams (Oakwood)
DC Prediction: Oakwood 3 Temple Fortune A 1
CHIGWELL ATHLETIC vs WOODFORD WANDERERS
Chigwell’s destiny is out of their hands going into their final game of the season.
Having tipped them for the title in August, I’ve been as disappointed as player-manager Richard Slater to see them tail off and they must win on Sunday and then hope Norstar choke in their last two games to finish in second place. At this stage, anything is possible.
The Chigs start the weekend in third position, a point behind the Stars who have two games left.
The signs looks good for Slater and his merry men as they are unbeaten in three league Essex derbies this season, including a thrilling 3-2 win over the Wanderers, courtesy of strikes from Jamie Fox (2) and Anthony Mendel.
Slater is targeting a ninth league win of the season when Alex Aviram’s men come to Peter May.
“It’s our last game this weekend and we haven't reached our target of winning the league, so it's been a disappointing season,” Slater told JC Sport: “We still want to finish as high as we possibly can.
“Second doesn't mean much to me in all honesty, but we'd take it if results go our way. I want us to finish our season on a positive note with win, that's all we can do.
“We know Woodford will be up for the game. We made very hard work of it last time out, and I'm confident we'll get the same end result.
“It's been an improvement on last season, and hopefully, with three or four quality signings over the summer, we can come back stronger for next season.
“Credit to the lads though, I don't know of many (if any?) squads in the MSFL where all 18 players are early-mid 30's, so to have been in the title race until early March and reach two quarter finals is a decent effort from the lads.
“But the bottom line is we weren't good enough in all three competitions, so that needs to be addressed for next season.
“Hats off to Oakwood who have been the best side in the division, no question about that.”
It’s a good job that Woodford are safe as they couldn’t have asked for a tougher run-in. After Sunday’s trip to Chigwell, they travel to Norstar, although with nothing to lose, they will look to get something from both games.
No doubt, manager Alex Aviram will already be plotting for next season, with key additions in defence the order of the day.
I’m sure they would love another crack at Chigwell next season so they will be looking to pull out all the stops in Walthamstow on Sunday.
On paper, Chigwell would win this one nine times out of 10 and I expect the hosts to do the business on grass and let their fans go into the summer break with a smile on their faces.
JC team news: Chigwell captain Daniel Castle returns after six weeks out. Russell Brill, Glenn Michaels and Simon Felstein all miss out due to work commitments.
Chigwell squad: Rob Shepherdson, Paul Lenchner, Alex Norman, Lee Hyams, Jon Swead, Glenn Davis, Russell Yershon, Richard Slater, Daniel Castle (capt), Craig Pearl, Richard Klein, Anthony Mendel, Jamie Fox, Lloyd Becker
Venue – Peter May, Ref – N. Cooper
JC star man: Jamie Fox (Chigwell)
DC Prediction: Chigwell Athletic 2 Woodford Wanderers 0
NORSTAR A vs BRIXTON OLD BOYS A
There’s a huge game in store at Wembley this weekend as promotion rivals Norstar and Brixton get ready to rumble.
Win and Norstar are up. Anything else and the race for second place will go into the final weekend of the Division One season.
The teams recently drew 1-1 when Sam Franks and Jonny Kay exchanged goals and another titanic battle is on the cards.
“It’s a massive game for both clubs on Sunday,” Norstar boss Phil Peters told JC Sport. “We just need to avoid defeat, whilst Brixton will have to come at us and go for the win which won’t be so easy given recent results.
“We’re missing a few important players to various travels and injuries, but we'll have a strong team out and hopefully enough to get the points and secure promotion.”
Like Peters, Brixton manager John Nitka was keeping his cards close to his chest. “All I will say at this stage is we have to win,” he said.
Brixton have won five out of six on their travels this season, and scored 18 goals in their last three away games. They have also beaten Neasden A in the cup and gave a good account of themselves in the recent semi-final against Brady. In a one-off game, are one of the last teams you’d want to play. I can see them trying to fly out of the traps and play in Norstar’s half.
The Stars are unbeaten in five, with keeper Ben De La Fuente in top form and having won five out of seven league games at home, it would take a brave man to bet against them getting something from the game.
Norstar’s journey towards the Premier Division has been a speedy one. They are now within touching distance of top-flight football. Peters knows it, the players know it and the fans know it.
In a nutshell, Sunday will come down to how brave Brixton are feeling and how well Norstar defend. The home side don’t concede many, but they will be tested to the limit by a Brixton team with threats all over the park.
Venue – Ark Academy, Ref – G. Silver
JC star man: Ben De La Fuente (Norstar)
DC Prediction: Norstar A 1 Brixton Old Boys A 1
Promoted: Hendon Utd SC B, Camden Park
21 - Doron Weinstein (Redbridge Jewish Care C - includes one for B team)
18 - James Gold (LM Lions B)
GLENTHORNE UNITED A vs FC TEAM B
With their Barry Goldstein Trophy dreams over, FC Team B will be looking to secure their Division Two status on Survival Sunday.
Ben Simon’s troops were mightily disappointed to bow out of the BGT at the quarter-final stage but they must regain their focus ahead of the trip to darkest Essex.
The only thing in their favour is that Glenthorne have little to play for other than pride, but there is so much riding on it for the north Londoners.
Season 2011/12 has been a big learning curve for Glenthorne player-manager Dan Lipman. His team has performed steadily, but he sets his sights high and deep down he’ll be thinking about what might have been. At the very least he’s been given food for thought for next season and the priority must be on signing someone to take the goal-scoring burden off his shoulders.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Lipman told JC Sport: “It's been a month since we last played, so I just want the boys to go out and enjoy themselves. It's been a season of ups and downs, but it's been fun.”
A top three finish is still possible for the Thornes, which would be a great return in their first season back in Division Two.
Offering a chink of hope for FC Team though, the Thornes have lost their last three home game so it’s clear that Simon’s men must play with no fear and believe in their ability. Not conceding for the first 20 minutes will be crucial as is silencing the crowd.
A smash and grab raid could be order of the day and they must repeat the level of performance shown during the trips to Hendon B and Camden Park.
Venue – London Marathon Playing Fields, Ref – B. Pieters
JC star man: David Gordon (FC Team B)
DC Prediction: Glenthorne Utd A 1 FC Team B 1
L’EQUIPE vs NORSTAR B
Another key battle on Survival Sunday sees Norstar B go in search of a win that could mean they won’t be playing in Division Three along with relegated L’Equipe.
Manager Jonny Bunt will call for cool heads and big hearts when his men make the journey down the A406, looking to keep their destiny in their own hands.
Yoni Ben Ari and Jonny Kay fired them to a crucial 2-1 win in Wembley when the team’s met a fortnight ago. Now Bunt is looking for another heroic performance.
“We’re missing one or two key players for this game, but we have enough quality to get the right result,” Bunt told JC Sport.
“It’s a massive game for us. We think we are favourites to stay up of the bottom four teams, but we’d like to do it ourselves - with a win rather than scraping through with a point or relying on other results.
“We know for the L’Equipe the main motivation will be revenge or getting one over us, but for us we are focused on our league position.
“If we can end what has been a really tough year in seventh place and clear of the drop, we’ll look back on a decent ‘transitional’ year, but whilst the dreaded R-word hangs over us it is hard to look forward.
“The side feel they deserve to be considered a Division Two side. We have rarely been outclassed this season and when we have struggled we have always bounced back.
“I hope justice is done, we win our game and can look forward to another season in the third tier.”
There was genuine disappointment in the voice of L’Equipe player-manager David Prager following the recent defeat against Norstar. After the game, he told me: “Our performance levels well below what we are capable of, but we look forward to the return fixture at home on grass.”
However, a 3-3 draw against Faithfold C was not enough to save them so they will be looking to put on a show in front of their fans, with striker Andy Burke in top form.
Given what is at stake for Norstar, I’m tipping them to edge what promises to be a real thriller.
Venue – Copthall, Ref – N. Cohen
JC star man: Yoni Ben Ari (Norstar)
DC Prediction: L’Equipe 2 Norstar B 3
LONDON MACCABI LIONS B vs HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B
The champagne is on ice, the party poppers have been ordered and I’ve heard reports that Rabbi Ginsberg has a L’Chaim up his sleeve as the Hornets of Hendon get ready to celebrate winning the Division Two title at Rowley Lane on Sunday.
Last week’s 3-1 win over long-time leaders Camden Park was massive. Simply massive. RA Noe and Lolu Hibbert grabbed the headlines after scoring the goals that saw them home, but joint-manager Motty Korman was quick to point out that brothers Tali Nevies and Ari Nevies were the star performers.
Now all eyes are on the trip to an in-form Lions team. Looking ahead to the big match, Korman told JC Sport: “We are all still buzzing from last week’s excellent result. Although we have a far superior goal difference and one hand on the title, we can’t be complacent and we want to win the league on points and not goal difference.
“Saying that, we are pleased that we go into the game knowing that Lions would have to win by 14 goals to take the title away from us.
“Lions B have crept up the table lately and have had some excellent results and we look forward to enjoying our final game of the season against them without too much pressure.
“After his double last week to all but seal the title, Ra Noe will be looking to add to his goal tally in his bid to finish as the club’s top-scorer.
“Come 12.30 we hope the well-earned celebrations will begin when captain fantastic Tali Nevies lifts the title!”
The Lions will turn up with a near full-strength squad, with the exception of two or three players.
Manager Jamie Kyte has led his team to six straight wins and they certainly won’t be turning up to make up the numbers on Sunday.
A top three finish would be an excellent return for one of the teams of 2012.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Kyte told JC Sport: “Last time we played Hendon we got off to a shocking start and were 4-0 down by half time. The second half was another matter and the game finished 4-3.
“We've come a long way since our first meeting against them and this time I'm looking for us to take all three points.
“A win against them will pretty much place us third in the league, and when you consider our start to the season it's a fantastic achievement.
“We've won our last six league games and I see no reason why we can't win our remaining two.”
I expect this game to be a great advert for Jewish football. Hendon will be playing with a smile on their face from the very first whistle and there will be a real carnival atmosphere to see the Hornets clinch the cup.
JC team news: Motty Korman remains sidelined through injury for Hendon, while Parys Hammonds is still suspended. But they have a large squad this week and Korman added: “No doubt every player will want to take part.”
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – W. Blake
JC star man: Lolu Hibbert (Hendon)
DC Prediction: LM Lions B 2 Hendon Utd SC B 2
Promoted: Glenthorne Utd B
Relegated: Hendon Utd SC C, Team JLGB
27 - Craig Sandford (Glenthorne B)
25 - Saul Conway (Shirley Park)
SHIRLEY PARK vs CATFORD & BROMLEY MACCABI
Shirley Park go into their penultimate match of the season looking to clinch promotion when they take on the Cats.
There was heartbreak for Dave Lusman’s troops last weekend when they were undone by the brilliance of Glenthorne B joint-player-manager Craig Sandford in the BGT.
But on Sunday they have a chance to take out their frustrations on Catford and finish the weekend all smiles.
Saul Conway (2), captain fantastic Ilan Shaki (2), Dan Beckwith and Stefan Benfredj registered when Shirley thumped the Cats 7-1 in September and it will need a big performance from visiting keeper Guy Ben-Aroya to keep the high-flyers at bay on Sunday.
Enjoyment will be the name of the game for Catford who are safe for another season. They have fought tooth-and-nail for survival and must look to take the positives out of what has been a tough season.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Cats joint-manager Adam Lewis told JC Sport: “The pressure's off us now that we can't really move up or down a place in the league.
“ We'll go out and have a good time, try to play some good passing football and have some fun.
“With Shirley Park already up, I'm sure they'll be looking to go all out until the end of the season, but we'll make sure to give them a tough game all the same.”
The Cats have won their last two games and scored 10 goals in the process, but I just can’t see them stopping a powerful Park.
Venue – Gladstone Park, Ref – P. Dobkin
JC star man: Stefan Benfredj (Shirley)
DC Prediction: Catford & Bromley 2 Shirley Park 4
Champions: Brady Maccabi B
Wooden spoon: Boca Jewniors
18 - Terry Jeffries (Temple Fortune B), Edward Green (Bilbaum)
16 – Ben Hart, (NL Raiders C), James Joseph (Brady B)
ATHLETIC BILBAUM vs SPEC FC
A win or a draw will be enough to help the Baums clinch the second automatic promotion place when they tackle fellow high-flyers SPEC FC on Sunday.
Managers Mark Pasha and Ed Green breathed a sigh of relief when SPEC FC failed to see off Athletico Finchley last Sunday and they will be looking to complete the job in style at the famous Bernabaum, with a sell-out crowd expected.
The Baums recently thumped Finchley 4-0 so you can read into that what you like. Another 1-1 draw would do them nicely.
Pasha told JC Sport: “The headlines for this one write themselves, so instead an extract from one of the club anthems.
“Baum Baum the elephant packed his trunk and said goodbye to the circus, off he went with a COYB-ety COYB, COYB, COYB, COYB!”
SPEC FC need something special on Sunday and it’s vital they start the match well. Their destiny lies in their own hands and they will do what they can to take the race for second place down to the wire. But Bilbaum be warned, SPEC’s away form has been … SPEC-tacular.
Results-wise, there has been nothing to separate the teams, although the Baums have found goals easier to come by. But on Sunday they’ll come up against the division’s meanest defence.
Looking ahead to the crunch clash, SPEC FC’s Ricky Lawrence told JC Sport: “Manager Laurence Conway flies back from America on Sunday and will ask the cab driver to go straight to The Bernabaum for the biggest game of our season.
“We've got a lot of respect for Bilbaum and we know they are capable of causing us problems. However, we also know we can hurt them.
“We haven't lost in the league since November, however we have thrown away silly points and that is why we're in a position where we have to win this weekend.
“We know that if we can pick up all three points on Sunday we'll be one point away from Division Three football.
“We are all looking forward to our first trip to The Bernabaum, we just need to make sure it's a successful one.”
The Baums have won seven out of eight and it will need something special to stop them celebrating at the final whistle. Clearly SPEC FC have the players to pull a result out of the bag, but they must defend as though their lives depend on it.
Fans are advised to arrive early to avoid disappointment. It should be a real cracker.
Venue – Hampstead Heath Extension, Ref – S. Russell
JC star man: Jake Gilbert (Bilbaum)
DC Prediction: Athletic Bilbaum 1 SPEC FC 1
TEMPLE FORTUNE B vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS C
The will be little more than pride at stake on the line in the dead-rubber between Temple Fortune B and Raiders C.
Both teams go into the game on the back of disappointing defeats. Terry Jeffries’ Fortune saw their hopes of a second consecutive Barry Goldstein Trophy semi-final ended, while Raiders were thumped by newly-crowned champions Brady B.
Given that neither team is able to finish the season higher than where they currently stand, enjoyment will be the order of the day.
Raiders will have mixed feelings about a fourth-place finish. It is a vast improvement on last year’s 8th, but for the first half of this season, a top two finish was on the cards.
Last year they lost 12 times and this year just four so the improvement has been there for all to see, with Ben Hart leading the way on the goals front.
Fortune were also in contention at one point, but they have been unable to maintain a level of consistency over the second half of the season. They have slipped down sixth place, despite the best efforts of Joey Glynne and Jeffries.
Seven points separate the teams going into the game which Raiders go into with a slight psychological edge after beating Fortune 3-1 in October. Joe Newton and Hart (2) were the scorers that day.
I can see this being an open and entertaining affair with both sets of fans going home with a smile on their faces.
Venue – Gosling Sports Park, Ref – K. Goodman
JC star man: Sam Morrell (Raiders)
DC Prediction: Temple Fortune B 2 NL Raiders B 2