Neasden cup hopes hang in the balance
Star striker returns — but weather puts cup hopes on ice
Daniel Levenfiche has return from a lengthy layoff to boost Neasden’s trophy charge
North West Neasden A’s hopes of becoming the first Jewish team to win five trophies look destined for failure after it emerged that they are close to pulling out of at least one competition to ease their fixture backlog.
The Maccabi League giants are three matches away from earning a place in the final of the prestigious Sunday FA Cup at Anfield and more than £2,000 in prize money.
Boosted by the return of star striker Daniel Levenfiche, last season’s double winners sit top of the MSFL Premier Division and they are also in the London FA Sunday Intermediate Cup, Peter Morrison Trophy and JC Cyril Anekstein.
The likelihood of withdrawing from one of the cup competitions drew a step closer after snow forced the second blanket cancellation of the season. As joint-manager Daniel Fox explains: “We are already in the second half of the season, and due to the weather and being in so many cups, it’s hard to see when this season will finish.
“If we had to put the cups into priority I would say the Sunday FA Cup and the MSFL league is top of our list. It is the first time that we have entered the competition and we are enjoying the challenge of playing against the elite teams and players from around the country that have not signed pro forms, and we are showing that we are more than capable in competing against the best.
“This cup seems to bring out the best in our team and everybody at the club is enjoying this competition.”
On Sunday, they are scheduled to travel to Vista in Bromley in the Challenge Cup but with the cold snap showing no sign of relenting, Neasden said that they will give some of the squad players a run out in the competitions they are not prioritising. Fox said: “We have won the league back-to-back and we want to make it a treble. With regard to the Sunday Challenge Cup, Morrison and Anekstein, we don’t want to disrespect the competitions or the teams still involved but due to the number of games still left to play, we may be forced to field our fringe players.”
It is not all bad news for Neasden though as Daniel Levenfiche, the 2008/09 JC MSFL Player of the Season, has returned to fitness following an injury-enforced spell on the sidelines.
Last week, MSFL chairman David Wolff urged teams to co-operate fully to ensure that the season is completed by the May 31 cut-off. Last Sunday saw the second blanket postponement of the campaign after more snow and double-headers have now been set up to push fixtures through.
But with 20 weekends still left, managers are calling for calm and believe the season will finish on schedule.
Redbridge A boss Greg Bookman believes that the season should start earlier. “We need to make the most of the warm, dry periods and start the season earlier. The Yom Tov’s affect two or three weeks before we’ve even started so we could bring the season forward to mid-August to counteract this.”
Danny Reuben, of London Maccabi Lions B, believes the authorities should show greater flexibility and extend the season. “Pressure should be applied via the FA to local authorities, clubs, companies that own the facilities to keep them running until the end of June.”
John Nitka, who runs South Manx, said: “The local authorities play a big part as it is their decision whether or not the pitch surface is playable. We should extend the season into June. “
Faithfold boss Zuriel Solomon commented: “We need midweek games and to start the season in line with the Premier League.” Chigwell’s Richard Slater commented: “Clubs need to go that extra mile in making as many midweek fixtures as possible happen, as we’d all rather this that double headers, which don’t give a true refection at the end of the season.”
Catford & Bromley’s Lester Jacobs believes that the weather is not the only problem. “Our division has already lost two teams on account of there not being enough players to go around. This is undoubtedly due to the league’s management enjoying the kudos of probably being world’s largest Jewish league.
“We must face facts. There are not enough eligible players to stretch to a league of 60-odd teams. We would improve the MSFL’s standards all round by restricting the entry of new teams and not replacing teams and clubs that fold.”
UJS Norstar A chief Phil Peters has another option. “We could create replica teams on FIFA 2010 and let the managers battle it out in an online version of the MSFL for the incomplete fixtures.”