Ice-cool Arghebant gives Kennet breathing space
London Maccabi Lions A 3-2 North West Neasden A
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Eilon Kennet, the Lions manager, cut a relieved figure after a last-ditch goal from Sam Arghebant earned them a 3-2 victory over last season's champions and helped them leapfrog their illustrious rivals.
Both teams went into the game in unfamiliar territory, rooted towards the bottom of the table with just one win between them in eight games.
Arghebant, whose awareness and touch made him the best player on the pitch, showed ice-cool qualities to convert a priceless winner at Rowley Lane after Ben Joseph had played him in. With Max Shields between him and the goal, a deft shimmy took the goalkeeper out of the fray and allowed Arghebant to slot in the winner.
"It was a game we had to win," said Kennet. "We knew it and we kept going. I thought that, apart from a spell at the start of the second half, when we had a rocky spell, we were the team that showed more desire and deserved the victory."
It was the Lions who forged ahead in the sixth minute when forward Joel Ross slotted home after he was played in by a delightful hooked pass from Arghebant.
Their joy was short-lived however, as a well-rehearsed free-kick routine paid dividends for Neasden. Danny Daggers' clipped pass was glanced home by the head of central defender Jonny Ellis.
A see-saw first half saw the Lions restore the lead on 25 minutes when Yoav Lebens leapt highest to head against the underside of the bar, leaving Joseph to tap home from inside the six-yard box.
Daggers came close to taking the visitors in level at the break but Lions keeper Danny Jacobs managed to push his shot away for a corner.
Neasden put in their best spell in the 20 minutes after the restart, with Lee Cash having a header ruled out for offside. The Neasden skipper squared things up on the hour, producing a deft touch to head home a right wing cross. Jacobs kept the Lions on terms with a fine block from the dangerous Cash.
The Lions appeared content to keeping their rivals at bay, repelling waves of attacks with minimal fuss.
But, there was a final twist right at the death as Arghebant struck to inflict a fourth defeat in five league games for Neasden who had over-committed looking for the win.
LML assistant-manager Motti Colman said: "We battled very hard today. We were under the cosh in the second half but we soaked up the pressure and always looked dangerous on the break, and we always felt like we could nick it.
"Sam Arghebant caused the Neasden back four problems every time he got on the ball and Josh Morris' man-of-the-match performance helped keep Neasden at bay.
"We have played teams off the park this season and not got results. Today, we probably weren't the better side, but the result is the only thing important and that makes it extra sweet to beat our great rivals."
Neasden manager Jamie Cole all but admitted his record-breaking side have conceded the title. "Never say never, but it's obviously going to be extremely tough," said Cole, whose team, without Danny Cole and Jake Gottlieb often lack any pattern in their midfield play.
"We don't take the chances we do create and this is what happens. I thought we were the better team in the second period but once again it didn't happen. We still have to fight for all four competitions we have entered."
LML: Jacobs; Colman, Lazard, Leslie, Morris; Joseph, Arghebant, Bibring (sub: Most), Schwarz, Lebens; J. Ross (sub: Green)
NWN: Shields; Stern, Bentwood, J Ellis, S. Ross; Fierstone, Sofier, Daggers; Cash, Gershfield, Keterman (sub: Lerner)