MAL and Vale 2nd battle for final spot

Four becomes two on Sunday as South Manchester Maccabi, Belmont & Edgware, MAL and London Maccabi Vale 2nd battle it out for a place in the final of the Maccabi National Knockout Cup.

The north-south semi-final between South and BECC looks set to be a battle between the South bowlers and the BECC batters. With home advantage, South skipper Steven Glicher is looking forward to releasing his attacking trio of Akiva Lieberman, Avrom Topperman and David Glick, who between them have played a big part in South winning the NJCL league and T20 double.

One of three Liebermans in the team, Akiva is a leading contender for NJCL Player of the season. With brother, Huddy, and dad, Jonny, also involved, only a brave man would write South off. Batsman Shaya Rabinovitz and the ever-improving Dovid Black will also look to give the BECC bowlers something to think about. Looking ahead to the tie, Glicher said: "We recognise that this will be a very tough game. We'll do our best to give them a good contest."

Belmont will travel to South Manchester in dribs and drabs. Several players will stay overnight at the Old Trafford Lodge. Captain Ashley Connick said: "We'll be going out for dinner and a quiet drink on Saturday night as a team." Selection wise, Connick is keeping his cards close to his chest. "Most of the line-up is sorted, but there are a couple of spaces left for people to make a late case for selection. I'm looking forward to the return of Richie Wienburg, and am also chuffed to have Ami Wynbourne and Oli Simons back.

Holidays and an injury to bowler Gideon Restan mean that the Londoners won't be at full-strength, but Connick said: "We'll be joined by a couple of WAGs as well as some of the player's families who live nearby. We hope to have a troupe of about 10 supporters on the day. We know of our opponents mainly what we read in the JC."

Connick has left no stone unturned in his search for success. "I know Akiva Lieberman from the 2005 Maccabiah, and we will be getting a briefing from Alex Goodman who although in Israel, has played in the NJCL whilst at University this year."

Asked for a prediction, Connick said: "I'd like to think we'll be strong enough to overcome them. We realise that it won't be easy - they're clearly in the habit of winning - and they have very good players. It's a long way to go to come back disappointed, though, and we're not planning of going out of the competition just yet."

The second tie is an all-London affair with MAL entertaining London Maccabi Vale 2nd in Mill Hill. It will be the third time that the Middlesex Sunday League Division Three rivals have faced one another this season, with the current record standing at one apiece. MAL are missing star man Yoav Lebens who hit 80 against MAL last month.

Mark Landau, the MAL vice-captain, said: "Both sides have good players and it will be about who performs on the day. We are the home side, so perhaps have the edge of playing in familiar conditions."

Asked for a winner, he said: "Typical of all Jewish teams, availability is key. They have some good players, and a nice blend of youth and experience. Their runs have come from the experienced players, with Lederman, Harris and Rothband all in good nick. Young bucks Andrew Greenwall-Cohen and Ben Lederman are very promising."

LMV skipper Jonathan Lederman said: "Although the recent win gives us the confidence that we can beat MAL, I am sure they will be doubly determined to get to the final. With Yoav away though, their task is even tougher as he is just such a good all-round player.

"MAL have performed really well all season not just because they have good batting and bowling, but their team spirit is excellent. The danger men are Corin, Landau, Traub and Wise."

The final is scheduled for September 5.

    Last updated: 1:20pm, August 5 2010