Garbacz: 'It's nice to end the year on top'
The Maccabi League race has turned into a two-way battle. Danny Caro gives his half-term report
Hendon United A hope that Ari Last will be jumping for joy in May
David Garbacz, the manager of Hendon United Sports Club A, has warned against complacency as the Reds go into the new year three points clear of Redbridge Jewish Care A.
Although the last round of games was hit by a blanket postponement, Garbacz believes that the recent 2-1 win over Raiders can be used as a launch pad. He said: "This was a massive result that enabled us to go into the new year with a small cushion at the top."
Indeed Hendon have won their last six matches, since going down to RJC, with Yishai Last, Ben Kon and Saul Conway contributing 20 goals between them.
Garbacz said: "We have a strong belief and have the quality to back it up this year. Nothing is won in December but it is nice to end the year on top."
The form of Daran Bern has been a catalyst for Redbridge this season. The East Londoners have won six out of seven in the league with Bern contributing 10 goals, the most of any player in the division. Keeper Dan Lee, who along with Bern will represent Maccabi GB at next summer's European Maccabi Games, has conceded the fewest goals in the division.
Star man: Faithfold new boy Michael Pearson
Manager Sam McCarthy said: "We're firing on all cylinders and I must commend the players on their commitment, attitude and application."
Faithfold A regained third spot following the 2-1 win over North West Neasden B. The acquisition of star striker Michael Pearson from London Maccabi Lions will boost their silverware challenge. Having beaten Hendon on the opening weekend of the season, the cups look like their best chance of winning something with summer signings Paul Babai and Alex Kaye looking to help them kick on in the new year.
North London Raiders A, last season's Division One champions, recovered from a poor start to beat Faithfold, Redbridge, who they beat 4-0, and London Maccabi Lions A. Striker Jacob Gold enjoyed a purple patch, hitting nine goals, but three defeats to Hendon in league and cup means that they have it all to do. Summer signings Danny Berliner, Alex Olcot and Matt Stock have helped them up the ante with captain David Rhodes, centre half Mark Leader, Jamie Wolfson and Adam Joselyn catching the eye.
The 4-1 success over Neasden has been the highlight of Southgate Harmen A's first season in the top-flight to date. Having recruited heavily over the summer, the form and fitness of Ben Murrell is key to their plans.
Lions A finished the year on a high with a 5-0 demolition of defending champions Neasden A. However, they will need to fill the void left by Mike Pearson. Manager Eilon Kennet has seen his plans for the season frustrated by an injury crisis, although he has high hopes over Jordan Marks, a product of the club's youth academy. Do not bet against them winning a fifth JC Cyril Anekstein Cup in six years.
Season 2010/11 has been a disaster for defending champions Neasden A who, like Neasden B, find themselves at the wrong end of the table. The As started the season intent on clinching a fourth consecutive league title, but their plans were up in smoke by the end of November with injury and suspensions to key players.
Lions B have conceded 14 goals in their last two games. It looks like the writing is on the wall.
North London Raiders B have maintained their winning formula to lead the table by three points. Summer signing David Dinkin has filled the gap left by long-term injury victim Stephen Bloom. Rob Richman's men have been the model of consistency with keeper David Simnock and defenders Dan Grossman and Rik Sherman keeping things tight at the back.
Brady Maccabi have been something of a surprise package. Young winger Josh Hershman, midfielder Steven Field, the evergreen Jason Sears and striker Mark Smith have put them in a strong position going into the new year.
FC Team A and Chigwell Athletic remain in the promotion mix. Keeper David Grossman, Richard Salmon, Danny Moss and Adam Rones have caught the eye early on although the winter break has come at a bad time with defeats in their last three games including a shock cup exit against Woodford Wanderers.
The loss of Steve Summers has been overcome with Paul Lenchner and Dan Castle playing out of their skins for Chigwell, but they cannot afford any more defeats.
Five teams remain in contention for a top two finish with leaders Norstar A, Temple Fortune A, Faithfold B, Brixton Old Boys and Woodford Wanderers battling it out.
Norstar hold a seven-point lead over Fortune, but Phil Peters's men, who have won and lost against their nearest rivals this season, have played four games more.
It is a case of so far, so good for Fortune who have been the model of consistency with summer signings Scott Shindler, Michael Goldberg and Matt Gilberry, along with hotshot Rob Benson and wing wizard David Gance impressing.
Faithfold B will be galvanised after their 4-2 win over Norstar and with Doron Hershkorn and Daniel Hildebrand in red-hot form. Their destiny lies in their own hands.
Jamie Kent and James Kaye have been in excellent form for Brixton while Mitch Hahn, Andy Levy and player-manager Alex Aviram have kept Woodford in contention.
Faithfold C, Heath Banta and Holy Mount Zion have done well to keep pace with early season favourites Glenthorne A and Redbridge C. Strikers David Blackman and Daniel Gordon have done the business for the East London giants but Faithfold hotshot Ben Simons leads the goal charts with 21 netbusters. And with Simon Beresford and new signing Jonny Blain scoring on a regular basis, manager David Garson hopes that his troops can hold their nerve.
The wintry conditions could benefit Heath Banta for whom striker Stefan Simons continues to pop up with important goals.
Mario Mielniczuk and Danny Marti have helped propel HMZ up the table although, with an inexperienced squad, it will be interesting to see how they handle things at the business end.
It would also be foolish to exclude Norstar B but they need someone to step up with goals on a regular basis or bring in a proven scorer.
Zig Zag have been among the biggest under-achievers but manager Neal Cohen hopes that the turn of year brings with it a change of luck.
The most competitive division sees six teams battling it out for the promotion places. The goals of Italian stallion Fabio Revieccio have kept Glenthorne United B top of the table on goal difference from Blizzard Storm, Hendon C and Inter Borehamwood. Elliot Coulton's men have won eight out of nine and they have they have been excellent at the back, keeping five clean sheets and conceding just six times. But it is Simon Linden's Blizzard who top the division's goal charts with Alex Stolerman, Alex Rubin and Joel Kutner nearing double figures.
Third-placed Hendon C have excelled since losing their first two games. Nine consecutive victories have propelled them up the table with title rivals Blizzard, Borehamwood and Los Blancos among their scalps.
Jerome Colmans has been pulling the strings for Borehamwood who look like they will have a big say in where the title goes.