Green shoots of recovery could be bad news for Hendon
Having correctly predicted that Lions A would beat Neasden A in the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup semi-final, I'm tipping Faithfold A to book their place in the April 18 final at Wingate & Finchley ahead of Sunday's meeting against holders Hendon United A.
The teams have claimed a win apiece in the league and I am expecting a high quality, open affair. I believe that the Greens will edge it as they've been playing to a high level for the past few weeks, while Hendon have had a couple of weeks off. So although they will be the fresher side, I believe that a lack of match sharpness and dare I say, too many matzahs, could play a part.
Three-time winners of the League Cup, Faithfold have done well to turn things round over the past couple of years and going into the game top of the JC MSFL Premier Division table, I believe they can progress. Alex Levack, Daryl Phillips and Zuriel Solomon have been three of the mainstays of the team. They have stuck with the Superhoops through thick and thin and they have been refreshed by the emergence of the new crop of talented coming through in the shape of Roie 'Rocky Spitzer, Dan Perkins, Benji Dymant, James Frenner and Joe Cohen.
Faithfold also have players who offer big match experience in the shape of Paul Lenchner, Matty Kleinman, Bradley Lee and David Lederman while Alex Taylor has formed an excellent partnership with Frenner at the heart of defence.
Hendon's emergence in the second half of the noughties was quite incredible. Chairman Marc Lewis and former manager Jonathan Kestenbaum deserve plenty of credit for the silverware in the trophy cabinet and although boss David Garbacz overcame a tricky introduction early season, he now has the team playing to a high standard once again.
Whereas last week's semi was a tight and tense affair, I'm expecting a more open contest here.
In Saul Conway and Avidan Last, Hendon have two foxes-in-the-box of the highest order. Behind them, Josh Bentley, Dovid Korman, Josh Lipman and Ari Last will try to pull the strings. Keeper Danny Berliner, who Garbacz describes as the best in the league, has undoubtedly been one of the top stoppers on the Jewish circuit over the past couple of seasons. The back line including Alex Gilbert, the Nigel Winterburn of Jewish football, Alex Rosenthal and Paul Bentley are hungry for another slice of action at the Harry Abrahams Stadium in Summers Lane. Midfield maestro Greg Corin has been injured for 90 per cent of the season but assuming he passes a late fitness test, his tan and six pack will surely woo the watching wags.
Looking ahead to the tie, Garbacz said: "It's still all to play for this season with the team still challenging on all three fronts. It could yet be a memorable debut season in charge."
There is another crunch clash in store this weekend as London Lions attempt to arrest the Met. Police in the semi-finals of the Aubrey Cup at Rowley Lane.