PETER MORRISON TROPHY FINAL
Hendon United Sports Club A 2 Oakwood 0
Extra-time strikes from Greg Corin and Avidan Last helped Hendon complete a cup double over they overcame Division One champions Oakwood at Wingate & Finchley FC.
In a match held over seven days due to bad weather, both teams rocked up at the Harry Abrahams Stadium looking to complete a double, with underdogs Oakwood having clinched the Division One title five weeks ago.
There were concerns that a lack of competitive match action would hamper their chances, but to their credit, they matched Hendon in all departments and can count themselves desperately unlucky overall. To a man, they gave an excellent account of themselves and were not phased by the occasion in a Jewish FA Cup classic.
A scrappy opening saw Oaks captain Adam Levine booked on 10 minutes following a crude lunge on Hendon midfield maestro Ari Last.
Hendon forged the first opening after 15 minutes when good work from Greg Corin saw him find Ben Lauffer in the penalty area and the Team GB star curled a left-footed effort just wide.
The remainder of the half saw both teams enjoy periods of pressure with the Oaks impressing down both flanks, with Anthony Kintish and Brad Wine giving the Hendon full-backs a run for their money.
As the game moved into the second half, both teams made changes on the hour mark with Danny Kon replacing Yoav Kestenbaum for Hendon, while Oakwood replaced striker Jason Lindsay for Dan Ash.
Referee Warwick Blake evened up the bookings on the morning with Hendon centre back Alex Rosenthal shown a yellow after holding back the marauding Wine who, along with livewire Kintish, gave Hendon stalwart Martin Smulovitch a torrid time.
Chances were few and far between as Oakwood's Josh Rubin curled a free-kick just wide.
There were some great battles all over the pitch with Dan Geey giving an excellent account of himself against Ari Last, along with powerhouse Levine and Lauffer.
The best chance of normal time fell to Oakwood centre half Louis Basger, who had returned from Switzerland for the match. The former Lions defender rose unmarked to meet a corner but was unable to keep his header down.
Hendon almost won it in injury time but a delicious cross from Smulovitch had just too much on it for the onrushing Avidan Last.
There was nothing between the sides as the match moved into extra time and Oakwood introduced fresh legs with Kintish and the heroic Levine, who had played through the pain of a shoulder injury, replaced by James and Dan Abrams respectively.
Hendon then enjoyed a good period of pressure with Ari Last sending a volley inches wide.
The deadlock was finally broken after 110 minutes of energy-sapping football. Oakwood keeper Ollie Gee, who had a quiet game, spilled a shot that was latched on to by Corin who tucked the ball home from 10 yards, much to the relief of his teammates whose joyous celebrations sparked a mini-pitch invasion.
Oakwood rallied an it needed a brilliant finger-tip save from Hendon stopper Corin to keep out a brilliant free-kick from Dan Abrams that looked destined for the top corner.
Oakwood were running out of time but if an equaliser had come, it would have been no more than they deserved for a super-human effort.
But it was not to be as Avidan Last sealed the game with Hendon's second goal in the closing stages. A double parry from Gee landed at the feet of the Hendon predator who didn't need a second effort to smash the ball into the roof of the net.
The Oakwood players were out on their feet as the Hendon celebrations started.
Jubilant Hendon boss David Garbacz told JC Sport: "All credit goes to the players for the way they've played today and this season.
"They dug in against a team who had clearly done their homework very well. We adapted very well as we have done all season.
"Today was all about the result. We would've loved to have put on a show but it just wasn't that type of game."
Garbacz was hugely impressed with Hendon's opponents who were magnanimous in defeat.
"Oakwood were tremendous today. We knew they'd be very organised and their tactics were spot on. We've got to give them nothing but credit.
"I was a little worried in the second half and although they put us under pressure, we were never under the cosh. It was more of a case of being frustrated and not dictating the play.
"I believe Oakwood will do really well in the Premier Division next season. They've got great spirit, togetherness and a very big squad."
With two pieces now in the bag, Garbacz will look to complete the treble in the next week, by clinching the ultimate prize - the JC MSFL Premier Division title.
He said: "The priority at the start of the season was to win the league, but there's nothing like a good day out at Wingate and the joy and glory of lifting the cup."
Asked how his side compared to the successful North West Neasden and London Maccabi Lions teams of recent years, Garbacz commented: "Man for man, they may have had better quality players, but our spirit and quality of football has put us on a par.
"Our three summer signings, plus Yoav Kestenbaum, who was like a new signing, has lifted the squad and kept the pressure on the older boys.
"Today, Josh Lipman was my man-of-the-match. He was superb again and didn't put a foot wrong."
Defeat was hard to take for Oakwood managers Ric Blank and Alex Schock who saw their team stay toe-to-toe with the team of the season.
"I'm proud of the boys and today's performance," Blank told JC Sport. "The work-rate and attitude was second to none. I know we can play and I was confident the boys would turn up today. Whether we had the luck is a different thing.
"Tactics-wise, we picked the players to do a job. We knew Greg Corin and Ben Lauffer were very good players. Ben didn't affect us.
"The plan was to stay compact and to defend as a team. We were missing Josh Rose while the absence of Eddie Manson was a big blow. But Louis Basger came in and was immense. His presence allowed us to put Adam Levine into central midfield to contain the Hendon three."
Blank praised Hendon for their victory. "They work hard and play as a team. It's no fluke they've won trophies this season. Today they got a lucky break and we didn't.
"But take nothing away from the boys. They've been great all season. They've been amazing and have got better and better as the season progressed.
"I thought we were going to do it today and I was confident we could do the double, but it wasn't to be."
Schock added: "This performance gives us a platform for next season. We needed the extra quality in their half today and it was great to see Brad Wine terrorise the Hendon full-back."
Hendon: Russell Corin 7, Alex Gilbert 7, Josh Lipman 9, Alex Rosenthal 7, Martin Smulovitch 7, Yoav Kestenbaum 7 (sub: Danny Kon 60, 8), Ari Last 7, Josh Bentley [(capt) 7, sub: Rafi Kon 85), 7], Ben Lauffer 7 (sub: Ben Kon, 106, 7), Greg Corin 8, Avidan Last 7. Sub not used: Dovid Korman
Goals: Greg Corin 110, Avidan Last 115
Booked: Alex Rosenthal 65
Oakwood: Ollie Gee 7, Dave Cohen 8, Jonny Beilin 8, Louis Basger 9, Ilan Scorah 8, Adam Levine [(capt) 9, sub: Dan Abrams 105, 7)], Dan Geey 8, Josh Rubin 7, Jason Lindsay 7 (sub: Dan Ash 61, 7), Brad Wine 8, Anthony Kintish 8 (sub: James Abrams 105, 7). Subs not used: Rob Davidson, Matt Geey
Booked: Adam Levine 10
JC BIG MATCH STATS
Shots - 10
On target: 3
Off target: 7
Yellow: 1 - Rosenthal
On target: 3
Yellow: 1 - Levine
Referee - Warwick Blake, Assistant-referees - Aaron Djanogly, Steve Levy. 4th official - Robert Benardout
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Louis Basger