JC MSFL PREMIER DIVISION
Redbridge Jewish Care A 2 London Maccabi Lions A 1
Redbridge did treble-chasing Hendon a huge favour after beating leaders Lions A at Fairlop, with goals from Steve Summers and Sam Sollosi.
Lions put their impressive recent run and defensive record on the line against current champions Redbridge at Fairlop. With the vast array of stars lining up for Redbridge it was clearly going to be Lions’ toughest task to date.
Their task was soon to be made even more difficult as the Lions back four could be forgiven for thinking Castles’ poor clearance was an untimely attempt of an April fools joke. The resulting clearance left Summers unmarked 30 yards from goal to shoot into an empty net and give the home side an early lead.
Lions then buckled down and adjusted well to the conditions, playing more direct, in order to get the front two of Oli Craig and Joel Ross more involved. The service throughout was undeniably scarce to them but both really worked hard to make things happen for the away side.
The back four then began to look more settled for Lions after a somewhat shaky start with Ollie Leslie, Aviel Schwarz and Pete Lazard all impressing. David Goldberg and Yoav Lebens were combative in the middle of the park and Michael Kenley and Josh Morris began to get more joy down the wings.
A nice ball from Schwarz found youngster Kenley, who after a superb touch that saw him pass the Redbridge right back, delivered an exquisite ball into the box. A touch from Ross found Craig, who in turn finished clinically for his 13th goal of the season.
Redbridge tried to respond immediately and would have regained the lead but for an excellent goal-line clearance from Morris.
Neither side had many further chances in the half and Lions would have been pleased to go in level at the break after such a poor start to the game.
The home side started the second period in the ascendency and Lions found it difficult to maintain possession, but Redbridge failed to really test Castle in the Lions goal.
Whilst not being on top in the game, Lions always looked dangerous on the break with Craig and Ross. However, all of Lions hard graft was soon to be dealt a sucker blow, when another poor kick from Castle allowed Redbridge winger Sollosi to control and float in a seemingly harmless cross that evaded Castle and went into the far corner.
Lions were visibly deflated after all their endevours but did manage to create a number of opportunities to draw level. Craig had one cleared off the line, before Ross would have hoped to have done better with a headed effort he tried to lift over the onrushing keeper. It appeared as though Lions were denied a strong penalty claim after Craig was fouled inside the area but referee Stephen Levy waved play on.
Neither side managed to work the respective keepers in the remaining 10 minutes of the match and Lions were left to rue the two soft goals conceded.
A two-week break now follows before Hendon visit Rowley Lane, where Lions will be looking to bounce back and return to winning ways.
RJC manager Eilon Kennet told JC Sport: "It was great to see my old players and nice to pit my new resources against my old ones.
"Strangely with just a couple of exceptions, it was more or less last year's team, which was a bit of a surprise, as the main reason I left Lions was to allow someone else to rebuild the team, but I guess its pretty hard to drop legends like Avi Schwarz and Pete Lazard.
"As for my makeshift Redbridge team, I couldn't have asked for anything more. The youngsters were inspired.
"It's hard to single out individuals, but Sam Sollosi was outstanding, Ritchie Kaplan exceptional and Danny Sugarman just brilliant.
"We never looked like losing and if we'd taken our chances, particularly in the first half, we could have won it by half time.
"I really enjoyed seeing the Lions boys and was delighted that they all greeted me so warmly, both before and after the game.
"It will be interesting to see what happens when we meet them again in a couple of weeks."
Lions joint-player-manager Josh Newman told JC Sport: "We conceded both goals from poor defensive errors and felt we probably did enough to get something out of the game.
"You only need to look at the players in the Redbridge team to know the quality they possess.
"We as a team are still learning and looking to improve each week. Redbridge are an excellent side with some top players all over the pitch and we simply can't afford to give away two goals and expect to get anything out of the game."