Hammers have the Last laugh
JC MSFL Premier Division
Hendon United A 2 North West Neasden A 1
A goal from Avidan Last ended North West Neasden A’s 18-match winning run as the Hammers became the first team to beat the leaders this season.
This game was by no means a classic although Neasden started with a swagger, forging ahead inside a minute only to hit the self-destruct button by gifting Hendon two goals and they finished the contest with nine men after some late fireworks.
Despite Adam Stolerman, Matt Stock and Lee Bibring missing, Neasden went into the game with a virtually full-strength team.
Hendon were missing defender Ilan Scorah, but in the words of Josh Bentley, "were up for the game".
Going into the game on the back of 11 straight league victories, win number 12 looked on the cards inside the first minute as captain Lee Cash was in the right place at the right time to scuff home a mishit cross from the right from Daniel Cole from close range, for his 17th in the league this season.
It was all Neasden for the first 15 minutes as the Hammers looked disjointed and were stretched at the back several times. Cash almost made it 2-0 on eight minutes. He lost his marker with a sharp spin and although his shot beat Hendon keeper Danny Berliner it didn’t beat the post and was cleared to safety.
A series of chances culminated in a pinpoint corner from Jake Gottlieb finding Jonny Ellis at the far post. He squared the ball to Danny Daggers who skewed his shot wide.
Hendon hauled themselves level with their first attack. Josh Bentley’s free-kick was fumbled by Neasden keeper David Fox allowing Josh Lipman to blast the ball into the roof of the net from six yards. It was game on.
Neasden rallied and TJ Keterman headed the ball into the box where Cash, who was playing his last game before a six-week ban, sidefooted wide.
Buoyed by the goal, Hendon inched back into the game as Neasden became casual and lacked their usual quality.
Bentley came close to putting Hendon ahead with his left-foot curler going just over.
Midway through the half, Cash fashioned an opening for himself, forcing Berliner to push the ball wide. Berliner had to be alert again moments later when he tipped Daniel Stanton’s snapshot away.
The half finished with Neasden on the front foot with Gottlieb curling a corner against the bar, something they had clearly practiced in training.
Somewhat fortunate to be level, Hendon look sharper after the break with Neasden old boy Greg Corin a thorne in the visitors’ side. He was fouled several times as Neasden showed signs of frustration.
Gottlieb rattled Berliner’s bar with another corner early in the second half and following a goal-mouth scramble, referee Adam Lewis spotted that Neasden defender Jonny Ellis had thrown an arm into the face off Corin off the ball. Lewis flashed the red as Neasden were reduced to 10.
Hendon’s numerical advantage saw them play a low-risk game, defending deep and in numbers, and seemingly happy to counter on the break. The move paid dividends on 65 minutes when Last slid home the winner past the despairing Fox.
Having brought on fresh legs in the shape of Daniel Levenfiche at half time, Neasden went on the offensive with Matt Sofier replacing Danny Daggers in a bid to give them more bite in the centre of the park.
As the clock counted down, Neasden’s desperation and frustrations started to show with Lewis’s ears buzzing after protest upon protest. But to his credit, the official stuck to his guns and tried to keep his cards in his pocket, as on another day he could handed them out like confetti.
The biggest talking point of the match came minutes from time when Cash surged into the box and went down under a challenge. The ground fell into a deadly hush as players from both teams looked at the man in black. To the amazement of the Neasden faithful, Lewis waved played on and despite fierce protestations, Hendon cleared their lines.
Lewis blew his whistle, not for final time but to say that enough was enough and he sent Daniel Cole off for foul and abusive language.
The final whistle blew seconds later amid more protests from Neasden.
Delighted Hendon boss Benji Wreschner told JC Sport: "We were in their faces from the first minute to the last but also got a few decisions including the late penalty which was a penalty.
Matchwinner Avidan Last said: "In some ways, the win was revenge for last season's cup final defeat which had been playing on our minds.
I'm delighted to have scored the goal that ended Neasden's record and thank the manager for persevering with me."
Neasden joint-manager Jamie Cole told JC Sport: "Today was not our best performance but two big decisions went against us. First was the sending off and second was a definite penalty, and the Hendon linesman wanted to give it, so on that basis a draw would’ve been a fair result.
“Credit to Hendon who played well today. I have no doubt we will bounce back. We have assembled a team of winners and I have every belief in them.”
Daniel Fox, the other Neasden boss, added: "The ref didn't help us today but I think that, in the end, we beat ourselves.
The result sees Neasden stay 13 points clear of second-place Chigwell who, like Hendon, a further point behind, have three games in hand.
DC Verdict: Hendon were worthy winners on the day. Despite getting off to the worst possible start, they got their game-plan spot on, frustrating Neasden and forcing them to hit the self-destruct button. Neasden shouldn’t look any further than into the mirror as they have only themselves to blame. As Daniel Fox said: "We beat ourselves."
Personally, I didn’t think the ref had a bad game. If anything, he could have shown more authority earlier in the game but he tried to used a common sense approach and Neasden kept at him before he decided that enough was enough. Like Arsene Wenger once said, or was it more than once? I didn’t see the penalty incident though Hendon boss Benji Wreschner assured me it was.
Hendon: Danny Berliner 9, Alex Gilbert 8, Tal Nevies 7 (sub: Dovid Korman 46, 7), Alex Rosenthal 9, Paul Bentley 7, Greg Corin 9, Josh Bentley 8, Motti Korman 7, Avi Last 7, Avidan Last 7, Josh Lipman 7. Sub not used: Benji Wreschner
Scorers: Josh Lipman 15, Avidan Last 65
Neasden A: Danny Fox 6, Adam Levene 7 (sub: Daniel Levenfiche 46, 6), Scott Shindler 7, Jonny Ellis 6, Jake Gottlieb 6, Daniel Cole 6, Ricky Kennet 7, Danny Daggers 7 (sub: Matt Sofier 66, 6), Daniel Stanton 6 (sub: Ben Forman 80, 6), Lee Cash 7, TJ Keterman 7
Scorer: Lee Cash 1
Booked: Matt Sofier
Sent Off: Jonny Ellis (throwing an elbow), Daniel Cole (foul and abusive language)
JC star man: Greg Corin (Hendon)