Westdene's magnificent 7

By David Gold, March 31, 2011
Westdene 2nds’ winning line-up and action from the semi-finals

Westdene 2nds’ winning line-up and action from the semi-finals

A goal from Ben Blackston saw Westdene 2nd win the Mike Samberg seven-a-side competition.

Having endured a tough season in the MJSL, where they lie bottom with 14 defeats from 16 games, Paul Levy's men were the top dogs in a handicap system which saw them start most games with two-goal leads. They came into their own, breezing through the group stage before beating Sporting JLGB 3-1 in the final.

Levy said: "It was excellent, for a team who have been slaughtered all season. The average age is about 18 and they all deserve credit. Even with the handicap system we only lost one game out of seven."

JLGB manager Gavin Sharpe said: "The boys were great all day. They were unlucky not to win but that is just the way it goes."

The event at Brooklands saw each of the Joan Collins Premier Division sides participate in two groups of five, with the team finishing bottom of each being eliminated. Each match lasted 16 minutes and a handicap system was in place to make the tournament more competitive, with Westdene 2nd and two-time winners Crumpsall both starting each of their games with two goals.

Sporting JLGB, Oakhill and Westdene 1st all began their matches with one goal, whilst the other five teams – Manchester Maccabi 3rd, Republic of Mancunia, Hyde Park, South Manchester Sports Club and Haroldeans – all started their encounters goalless.

Group One witnessed a surprise as title-chasing Manchester Maccabi 3rd lost their crucial encounters with Hyde Park and South Manchester exiting the competition before the knockout phase. Westdene 2nd won all their games in the group.

Crumpsall clinched first place in Group Two, in part thanks to a superb 6-2 win over a weakened Republic of Mancunia, who struggled, winning just one of their games.

They did however score spectacular goals, with John Harris notching possibly the best of the lot from the half-way line, directly from kick off, against Westdene 1st. In the same game, Adam Herman almost eclipsed Harris with a superb left-footed lob from 35 yards. Haroldeans dropped out of the tournament with four defeats.

In the quarter-finals, Hyde Park overcame their goal disadvantage to draw 1-1 with Westdene 1st and win 1-0 on penalties, whilst Westdene 2nd overcame Republic of Mancunia 4-3, in a game which saw Republic's Jonny Alexander score a superb overhead-kick.

JLGB advanced with a 2-1 win against Oakhill and Crumpsall held on to their two-goal head-start to defeat South Manchester 2-1.

In Westdene 2nd's semi-final with Crumpsall, which began 2-2, Michael Freedman opened the scoring with a superb solo goal, but Crumpsall fought back to equalise in the dying minutes as Blackston turned the ball in after Bradley Levy's header was parried.

The match was decided in a sudden death penalty shoot-out. Daniel Caplin saved from Ben Gardner to send Westdene through to the final.

The other semi-final was more of a tactical affair as JLGB held on to their 1-0 head-start against Hyde Park.

With Westdene beginning the final with a 2-1 lead, Sporting could not break them down, and were eventually punished when Blackston tapped in following a superb ball from Daniel Klapish to seal a memorable victory.

Last updated: 3:25pm, March 31 2011