Souts you sir!
An extra time strike from David Souter saw Redbridge Jewish Care A move a step closer to winning the treble after a hard-fought victory over North West Neasden A and set up a JC Cyril Anekstein Cup final against Hendon United Sports Club A.
A gripping semi-final saw Redbridge hit the woodwork three times but they looked shaky early on before forging ahead after 10 minutes. Dean Nyman cut in from the left and side footing a brilliant shot from the tightest of angles into the far corner.
Neasden, deploying former football league player Sam Sloma at the front of a midfield three behind three attackers, then went close as James Gershfield just went over with an inventive bicycle kick from a Lee Cash pull back.
They deservedly drew level when Matt Sofier, who along with Jonny Ellis was his side’s best player, struck a shot from the edge of the area which left goalkeeper Dan Lee flat-footed.
Gershfield then had a shot deflected over and the resulting corner required a Redbridge clearance off the line to ensure they went in level at the break.
The best moments for Redbridge emanated from Adam Stolerman deliveries and passes from supersub; the Neasden old boy floated in one delightful free kick from the left that was headed over by Steve Summers.
Summers missed a golden chance to win it with virtually the last kick of normal time. With the clock ticking down, he fired against the post following a scramble.
At the other end, Sloma, who sporadically showed his class on the ball, nearly set up the winner but Gershfield could only shoot tamely at Lee.
Extra time saw the match hit the same pattern as the second half; long punts from either goalkeeper, landing on a head before a fierce competition for the second ball.
Midfield play was sadly absent as pressure became the name of the game.
The decisive moment came when Redbridge substitute Darren Bern fired against the post from eight yards. The ball fell to Maccabiah star Souter who rammed home the winner.
There was still time for a Stolerman effort to be well saved by Max Shields, before 120 tiring minutes came to a close with Sloma sent off for foul and abusive language after the referee turning away a North West Neasden penalty claim.
So it was Redbridge who booked their place in a first-ever Wingate final. Top of the league and in the last eight of the Morrison, the treble is well and truly on as they proved they can handle the pressure on the big stage.
RJC manager Sam McCarthy told JC Sport: “I thought that once we got through the first 20 minutes we created the better chances and should have won it in normal time.
"That’s why with 25 to go I bought on Adam Stolerman, because I believed having the three forwards up there would work for us. And it did, as Adam linked up the play brilliantly and wore them down.”
Neasden joint-manager David Fox told JC Sport: “I thought that the league should have put a stronger referee in for this game. We need better refereeing.
"I thought we had the better chances but we couldn’t quite finish them.”
Neasden: Shields, Keterman, Bentwood, J. Ellis, Revivo, Glynne, (sub: Lerner), Sofier, Sloma, Cash, Gershfield, B. Ellis
Redbridge: Lee, Sandford, Souter, J. Berg, Caplan, McCarthy (sub: Bern) D. Hakimi, Sollosi, Nyman, Summers, Walker (sub: Stolerman)