Basger volley seals the first trophy of the season for Republic

By David Gold, August 22, 2011

Republic of Mancunia cruised to a comfortable 2-0 win over South Manchester in the curtain raiser to the new Manchester Jewish League season.

New boss Stuart Shapiro was pleased with his team's performance, and is looking forward to picking up more silverware over the course of the season.

"It's good to get a trophy under our belts, we dominated the game and deservedly won.

"It's a very good start to the season."

It was Shapiro's son Saul who gave Republic an early lead just five minutes in as Jonny Alexander sent in a cross which he collected on his chest before volleying home from the edge of the box.

The goal stunned a depleted South, who played well during the first period, battling valiantly and they had chances to level. The best of these fell to Nathan Ezair, who just failed to connect with an Anton Finegold cross late in the half from six yards.

In the second period Republic looked to reassert their authority and had a justifiable grievance when Harry Rosenblum fouled Alexander when the Republic man was clean through 10 minutes into the half. They survived another potential red card when Gary Stewart took Moishe Hasid out in the area, but the referee waved play on.

South continued to carve out chances though, and Finegold had several which he failed to convert, but Republic were also wasteful in front of goal, with Hasid missing a couple of great chances when clean through on goal.

With South pressing, they were hit by a moment of magic from Paul Basger with five minutes remaining. Again it was an Alexander cross providing the goal, but there was still plenty to do as the ball came towards Basger, who scissor kicked a volley past Stewart to ensure Republic would get their hands on the first piece of silverware this season.

South Manchester coach Neil Collins felt his team could take the positives home despite the result.

"It's disappointing, it was a mixed bag of players who had not played much. With a full strength team South will be a match for any team this year so we can take heart from this."

Collins team now play Republic's second team in the league as they open the new season this Sunday, and they will be optimistic that with a stronger side they can get off to a winning start. Republic's first team will be kicking off their title challenge with a tricky home game against Gavin Sharpe's Sporting JLGB. Shapiro's men will need to be switched on defensively as the skill of Rafi Bloom going forward proved a menace to MJSL defences last year, and a strong Sporting side took some notable scalps during the campaign.

Also in action at the weekend are Leeds Maccabi, returning to the MJSL after a spell out of Jewish league football with a game against Crumpsall. They will hope they can pick up where they left off last time they were in the division, when they won the league and cup double. They will be an unknown package not just to their opponents, but also to manager Alex Ullman.

"We are excited to join the MJSL after a while and it's virgin territory for me, but I think we'll do well.

"I can't promise silverware yet but we'll give it a good go."

Leeds will hope they can emulate Manchester Maccabi's 3rd team, which lifted the title last season despite having a team made up of teenagers. Ullman's side could have a slightly older profile, but he insists his team are in the MJSL to win.

"If Manchester Maccabi can win it, anyone can!

"We love playing the game, we're a competitive side, we're in it to win it."

Last updated: 3:21pm, August 22 2011