Hammers end Los Blancos dream
Three goals in just over a quarter of an hour set 2009 winners Hendon United A on the way to a convincing win as they booked their place in the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup final, where they will meet Redbridge Jewish Care A.
Greg Corin, Paul Bentley and Josh Bentley scored to put the home side in control, before Dany Kon struck on the counter-attack as the visitors threatened a comeback. Supersub Yishai Last struck in the second half to kill off the brave resistance of Los Blancos.
Hendon settled straight away, passing the ball confidently and not allowing the visitors near the ball. After 10 minutes they carved out their first clear cut opening, as the excellent Rafi Kon split the defence to set Corin through, and he calmly slotted home.
Los Blancos had a chance to equalise almost immediately with their first proper attack as Daniel Sher picked the ball up on the left before cutting inside and hitting a curling shot which was inches wide of the far post.
The miss proved costly as a couple of minutes later a free kick from Corin was fumbled by the visiting goalkeeper Josh Cohen and bundled home by Paul Bentley.
With Los Blancos reeling, a superbly executed counter-attack saw them fall three behind. Hendon passed the ball out of defence and Rafi Kon found Dovid Korman with an excellent through ball, and he found Corin darting through to his right, who was subsequently pushed over, allowing Josh Bentley to convert the penalty.
But the Fourth Division side, to their credit, refused to give in and as Hendon began to take their foot off the gas, they started to pressure the Premier Division side into mistakes and scored on the counter-attack. Sher played a superb ball through to Dany Kon, who kept his composure to take the ball past Hendon goalkeeper Russell Corin to prod home.
Dany Kon proved increasingly menacing with his ability to hold the ball up and composure in possession, and as Los Blancos pushed more men forward they threatened to mount an unlikely comeback, but for all their endeavour they struggled to carve out decent opportunities.
In the second period Hendon reasserted their superiority, and almost increased the lead immediately after the restart but Ben Kon’s header was superbly kept out from point-blank range by Cohen, who pulled off some superb saves in the second period.
The visitors had a golden opportunity to make it 3-2 when Adam Hersh had two white shirts to pick out in the area but scuffed his cross, and with it, Blancos’ hopes of a comeback.
Instead, substitute Yishai Last made an instant impact as he volleyed home superbly from Corin’s cross to seal the win, to delight his manager David Garbacz.
"We got off to a great start on a pitch that made it difficult to play flowing football. They could easily have folded after that but competed really well for the rest of the first half.
"In the second half I thought we re-established our superiority and but for their keeper who pulled off some great saves we could have won by a lot more.
"Ultimately though, it was all about the win and we are all really looking forward to the big showpiece in April.
"It is fitting that the two best Jewish football teams in the country will contest this final in what I’m sure will be a cracking match.
"Los Blancos manager Joel Minsky was proud of his team and focused immediately on their push for promotion.
“The most important thing this season is promotion. Other than the first 15 minutes today we put up a fantastic performance. It says a lot that we’re mixing it up with the team second in the Premier Division, and hopefully this will be the start of a bright future for Los Blancos.”
Hendon United: Russell Corin, Alex Gilbert (sub: Alex Rosenthal), Martin Smulovitch, Paul Bentley, Josh Lipman, Rafi Kon, Ben Kon (sub: Yishai Last), Josh Bentley, Ari Last, Greg Corin, Dovid Korman (sub: Saul Conway)
Scorers: Corin 10, Paul Bentley 14, Josh Bentley (pen) 17, Yishai Last 67
Los Blancos: Josh Cohen, Yosh Radomsky (sub: Eddy Nathan), Julian Gertner, Adam Cohen, Joel Holder, Daniel Horowitz (sub: Mark Benamram), Daniel Sher, James Joseph, Sami Birnbaum (sub: Ariel Weinstein), Adam Hersh, Dany Kon
Scorer: Dany Kon 31