Joy for Maccabians at the Emirates
Under the stewardship of Dan Piler and Ryan Glynne, a team mostly made up of the Wingate & Finchley team of a dozen or so years ago, got together to contest the Arsenal Charity Shield under the team name "Highbury Re-United".
The full 11-a-side tournament, played out between noon and 9pm, saw 16 teams battle it out on the hallowed Emirates pitch in an attempt to be crowned champions whilst raising thousands for The Arsenal Foundation.
Drawn in Group B, HRU, featuring a number of Maccabians, faced a tough challenge in their opening game. Paul Hakim got the ball rolling with cracking curled finish while Sam Sloma and Ben Strevens both failed to convert good chances to put the game safe. Their opposition were no mugs though and put them under real pressure. Having been thwarted by Dan Jacobs and then seeing another chance brilliantly cleared off the line by Andrew Myers, it was no more than they deserved when a thumping finish gave them a 1-1 draw.
These two sides were the strongest in the group by some distance, so qualification to the semi-finals was going to be down to goal difference. Piler kept things fresh in the next two games, and at times some explosive play and fine finishing saw HRU qualify through by virtue of scoring two extra goals. Ben Ellis scored a couple of crackers while Hakim, Sloma, Dan Stanton, Myers and Piler were also on target as the side went on the rampage.
The semi-final saw the team drawn against The Arsenal Pro-Celebrity side. Myers, Craig Ellis, the Adam twins (Harvey and Philips), Piler and Daniel Nielsen shared the defensive duties and were solid as a rock with Jacobs keeping a third consecutive clean sheet. The side were playing some great stuff but failed to take their chances, the closest they came was a left foot Ben Ellis piledriver that cannoned off the post. With the clock into the final seconds and penalties looming, Sloma's shot was deflected for a corner. Daggers delivered with quality and Craig Ellis put his head in where it hurts to nod home a winner to the team's delight.
And so to the final against Hatcham FC - a young, pacy and athletic side who'd deservedly made the final. HRU controlled the pace of the game early on, with Stanton especially dominant, although the best chance fell to Hatcham. but Jacobs earned his corn with a fine save. And in keeping another clean sheet the side knew a single goal would be enough.
Sloma, Ellis and Hakim all had their chances, but with three minutes on the clock the ball was worked to Strevens who took aim as the ball dropped and volleyed across goal into the bottom corner; a strike worthy of winning the competition for the delighted squad.
A brilliant day where the team played some fabulous football and in doing so scored some cracking goals. Defensively sound, conceding just the once in five games, they were deserved champions.
Squad: Dan Jacobs, Adam Philips, Adam Harvey, Andrew Myers, Craig Ellis, Dan Piler, Daniel Nielsen, Dan Stanton, Danny Daggers, Ryan Glynne, Paul Hakim, Sam Sloma, Ben Ellis, Ben Strevens