United they stand, but will it be Leeds or Manchester who comes out on top in the cup?
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Manchester’s Stuart Delmonte hopes to outfox Ian Selwyn
It's the game of the season but already both sets of managers are playing down their team's chances with a place in the semi-finals of the Peter Morrison Trophy up for grabs.
Northern pride will be at stake when Leeds Maccabi 1st entertain Manchester Maccabi 1st on Sunday. Having beaten London Maccabi Lions A away, when they threatened to park the team bus but came away with a 2-0 win, former cup winners Manchester start as narrow favourites. But so severe is their injury crisis that they were forced to ask the Tameside League to postpone their game against Forresters Dukinfield last weekend.
Though the postponement meant Stuart Delmonte's team have an extra week's rest, but he is adamant that Leeds will be favourites if their injuries do not clear up. Delmonte even sent a scout to the Leeds game last week.
He said: "If we go out with a weakened team then Leeds Maccabi will be big favourites. We were impressed by what we saw. They are a good strong outfit who do not shirk a challenge. Their heads do not go down."
Manchester could be without prolific forwards Jacob Richler-Kleinman, who Delmonte rates as "50-50", and Adam Lavin. Star defender Michael Sacks is also a doubt.
Manchester are likely to call on players from their second and third teams, which could have an adverse impact in particular on the 3rd XI, who are fighting for the Joan Collins Premier Division title, and have a crucial game with Haroldeans this weekend.
Tony Rosenberg, Manchester's assistant-manager, said: "We will have to tap into the second and third team pool, so we may have some very young players playing for us on Sunday. We have no idea who will be playing for us right now, but we will put out as strong a team as we can."
Leeds manager Ian Selwyn believes that his team will need to play the game of their lives. With MSFL team North London Raiders A awaiting the winners in the semi-final, Selwyn will be looking for a big improvement following last week's 3-1 defeat against Young Guns in the last four of the District Luty Cup
Selwyn said: "We played poorly, and were outplayed in every department. We never really looked like winning the game or getting anything out of it. I don't know why, but the better team won on the day."
Leeds fell behind 10 minutes into the second period to a superb solo effort by Dave Sutcliffe. It was soon 2-0 as a move down Young Guns' right hand side was crossed low for Ryan Mitchell to fire home.
Leeds reduced the deficit when Richard Black converted a penalty given for handball, but they could not carve out any real opportunities to level and were finished off on the counter-attack with a header from Liam Douglas with five minutes remaining.
It could have been different had Ben Ullmann scored when he failed to connect in front of an open goal in the first half. Ullman, Black and Abrahams all had half chances to put Leeds in front, but they were second best throughout.
With Danny Woolman in top form, Selwyn is preparing to face a strong Manchester side and says that their opponents will be strong favourites to progress.
"I think it is mind games, every team has injuries," he said. "I still think they are favourites. They are the best Jewish football team of past 20 years."