Chigwell Athletic B 2-1 Hendon United A 1
A brace from Greg Bookman helped Division One Chigwell Athletic B cause one of the shocks of the season as they booked a place in a major final for the first time after beating the Premier Division champions Hendon United A in the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup.
Bookman opened the scoring after just four minutes only for Avidan Last to head home an equaliser 10 minutes later. Bookman clinched the East Londoners’ place in the final, slotting home just after the hour mark to end Hendon’s treble hopes and halt a lengthy winning run.
A delighted Chigwell boss Russell Green commented: “It was a great battle and I thought luck was on our side. The conditions ensured that it was going to be a scrappy affair, but in the end we just held on. We will now look forward to the final and have nothing to be scared of.”
As soon as the game started at a chilly Chigwell Met Ground you could feel a sense of a shock in the air. And despite the snow and rain falling, Chigwell began the more determined of the two and were rewarded after four minutes. Bookman unleashed an unstoppable 20-yard curler which left Danny Berliner in the Hendon goal with no chance.
The lead proved to be short-lived though, as Hendon arose like a sleeping giant 10 minutes later. An inswinging corner from Ari Last was superbly headed home by his brother, Avidan.
The half ended on a dramatic note though, when Hendon were awarded a penalty after Elliott Gold handled a Greg Corin free-kick. Josh Bentley stepped up but was denied by a fine save from Ben Rosenthal. Bentley tapped home the rebound but the goal was disallowed after referee Martin De La Fuente noticed an infringement after the spot-kick was saved and awarded a Chigwell free kick.
Green fired up his team during the half-time break and they regained the upper hand six minutes in. Hayden Smith sent Bookman clean through and one-on-one with Berliner, the former Wingate & Finchley player kept his composure to calmly slot home.
Smith had two opportunities in a matter of minutes to put the tie beyond doubt but skied both efforts.
The visitors came so close to forcing extra time when another dangerous delivery from Ari Last resulted in a goal-mouth scramble which saw Chigwell players throw bodies into the firing line. Defending deep and in number, Chigwell survived the storm to make history and reach the final.
Matchwinner Greg Bookman said: “We dug in as much as we could and things seemed to go our way. Hendon were dangerous but I think we had someone on our side as the ball just wouldn’t go in for them.
“The jubilation at the end was indescribable. Hendon were very gracious in defeat.”
Hendon manager Jonathan Kestenbaum said: “We are at a loss to understand how the game wasn’t won comfortably. We felt that we had 80 per cent of possession, hit the woodwork twice, missed a penalty and had 10 good chances.
“However we have been the beneficiaries of some good luck this season and on Sunday, it ran out. We wish Chigwell all the very best for the final.”
The victory sets up a final against holders London Maccabi Lions A at Wingate & Finchley on April 13.
Rosenthal, Pomeroy, Ezekiel, Ballen, Gold, Pittal, Hakimi, Smith, Bookman, S. Green (sub: D. Green), Klein (sub: Gordon)
Berliner, Kon, Wreschner, Rosenthal, J. Bentley, P. Bentley, Ari Last, Avidan Last, Corin, Smulovitch, Korman