MSFL preview: Division Three
The title is Taylor-made
Hotshot: Sacha Benfredj
Division Three looks to be the most open in the MSFL with 10 teams vying for a top two finish.
NORTH WEST NEASDEN C
One of a number of clubs to have been promoted from Division Four last season, Louis Taylor's Neasden will be looking to go up by right this year.
"We had a fantastic end to the season," said Taylor. "We're looking to progress this year in Division Three. We have a strong squad and we hope to be competitive in every game."
The presence, experience and quality of keeper Ed Bloom and captain Adam Levene will ensure that team will be hard to break down.
Summer signings include Matthew Davies, Callum Stein and Mark Engel although Alex Lewis is in Israel for 12 months, while a number of other players will only be available on a part-time basis due to university commitments.
Based at Barnet Copthall, big things are expected of Richard Braham, along with youngsters Joel Kanutin and Simon Cohen. Taylor, whose team is backed by Genium Creative, is wary of the challenge posed by Blizzard Storm, Glenthorne B and Inter Borehamwood.
He believes that the MSFL is going from strength to strength. "I love the chance for the community to come together. The league is an excellent way for Jewish people to rub shoulders in a spirit of competition."
Manager Simon Linden is confident that last season's Division Four runners-up can challenge for the title. He said: "We know it's a very tough league but just like last year, I'm confident we have the ability and character to win hard games."
Linden believes that the signing of Shai Revivo from North West Neasden A is one of the coups of the summer. He also welcomes back of Joe Stolerman, Brett Freeman and Adam Nathan while striker Joel Kutner has moved to Los Blancos.
Adam Speck, last season's Division Four Player of the Year, will bring "leadership and experience" to the squad while the manager describes Dan Vandermolen as "one to watch". Linden said: "Still only 17, he can play all over the park."
The club, whose home is Mill Hill Park, are keen to bring in "one more striker" before the season starts with Sean Ladier and Dean Shaw described as the "outstanding youngsters" in a talented squad.
CATFORD & BROMLEY MACCABI
Based at Norsemen FC in Edmonton, the Cats fought tooth and nail to avoid relegation last season. Having brought in some excellent talent, new to the 11-a-side game, they will be looking to challenge in the top half.
Catford skipper Adam Lewis said: "We finished high up the fair play league last year and second in sportsmanship award. We have young players in our team and some older who play because they enjoy the atmosphere. We are not a team where players shout at one another for making mistakes."
The Cats have lost Josh Pater and Dan Stone and Lewis has tipped UJIA and Blizzard Storm to feature in the promotion mix.
Central midfielder Ashley Stokes excelled in his first season with the club while the pacy Eli Baraty will look to retain the mantle of top-scorer. Both won medals playing table tennis for Team GB at the recent European Maccabi Games in Vienna.
Full-back Elliot Alexson, 17, and keeper Guy Ben-Aroya, 17, have brought down the average age of a squad that is ultimately brimming with potential.
There is still room for a new defender and midfielder to join the team, sponsored by Furnitubes.
GLENTHORNE UNITED B
"We want to get back to where we belong". That is the view of Craig Sandford, who, along with Sam Rosenthal, took over the reins from Elliot Coulton at Fairlop-based Glenthorne.
New signings include Adam Shafron, James Rubin, Michael Winehouse and Paul Bloch, as well as Sandford, who last season helped Redbridge Jewish Care A win the double.
Looking ahead to the big kick-off, Sandford said: "We hope to win the title and build a strong squad that can compete in the higher divisions. A good cup run will be nice for morale and maybe entertain RJC or Chigwell."
Star striker Fabio Rivieccio has joined Redbridge but they have managed to retain the services of the talented Dan Lassman. Sandford believing that the main threat will come from UJIA and Los Blancos.
Much is expected from wonder kids Josh Wynne and Dan Jackson.
Based at Fairlop, the team, sponsored by Garry Green Stone Masons, is "still in the market for a new striker", while their strength lies at the back.
"We are confident we can win the title again." That is the view held by Oluseun Thomas, manager of last season's Division Four champions.
The team will be battling for silverware on four fronts this year after entering the Middlesex Cup.
Thomas said: "Having been third for a long time, we don't want to leave it to the last minute this time. "We've got a strong team this year. Effectively we got promoted to play seven teams who we already played. We want to play these teams and get the results we got last year. We are confident we can do the same as last season."
Based at Gosling Park in Hatfield, winger Matt Smith heads of host of new signings that also include speedster Joey Glynne, Ollie Kenner and Ryan Moscow. "Matt and Joey will excite the fans," vowed Thomas, "with service provided from the flanks by Adam Newman and Scott Ackerman".
Richard Winton has moved on while Thomas hopes that Jamie Taylor and Joel Lassman "return from injury soon".
With the team led by captain Jonny Meltzer, Thomas identifies Blizzard Storm and Glenthorne United B, the teams that finished second and third respectively last season in Division Four, as "the main threats".
Joel Minsky has asked his team to raise the bar this season, with the title and a place in the final of the JC League Cup the priority.
Consistency is the name of the game for the manager, who said: "I'm looking for a sustained challenge for the title, as opposed to seemingly giving up come March."
The acquisition of striker Joel Kutner, Dan Cohen, Josh Colman and Trevor Silverman will soften the blow following the departure of star striker Dany Kon to Hendon. James Joseph and Joel Holder have also departed.
Captain Adam Hersh and vice-captain Yosh Radomsky will, like Minsky, expect the highest standards on the pitch from the team sponsored by Minsky – Investing In Property.
Minsky believes that the division is "wide open". He said: "The seven promoted teams all pretty much beat each other over the course of last season, so I believe it will be equally tight this year again.
"I think it is a question of commitment, and whichever team is able to put out its strongest XI week in, week out will have the best crack at the title.
"Having won Division Four last year though, Inter Borehamwood will naturally be the team to beat this time round."
In Josh Hirschowitz, Minsky believes he has "one of, if not the best young centre back currently in MSFL". He said: "At 19, he is already the complete defender, and most importantly for a centre back has a calming influence on all those around him. "Unfortunately he starts at Cambridge Uni this year, but we'll make sure to make the most of him when he's back home.
Julian Gertner, Daniel Sher, Sami Birnbaum and Ariel Weinstein all made large contributions last season.
Playing home match at South Oxhey, Minsky's motto is simple. "We have ambition with the ability to back it up."
Nicky Plotnek, the former West Bromwich Albion player, is the star name on the books of Shirley Park. Describing themselves as "a team of entertainers" they have added to the rank with two names from the Premier Division. Added to that, brothers Ian and Paul Bean have joined from the top divisions while Simon Shelley has committed for the season.
Managers Dan Oade and Dave Lusman have managed to keep their squad intact over the summer although there are reports that Neasden are planning a late bid for striker Jason Lindsay.
"On paper, we are one of the strongest teams," said Lusman. "If we can keep hangovers to a minimum, our new signings could prove the difference. Based at Gladstone Park, Lusman believes that Shirley, captained by Dan Mitman, is a "Premier Division side in the making".
A number of players new to the MSFL have helped bolstered the ranks at JLGB. Manager Rob Silverman is looking for "an improvement at the back," and he is confident that his troops can "spring a surprise or two".
Dan Levy, David Mitchell, Ryan Kissin and Rob Freedman were recently unveiled to the fans in a pre-season friendly and Silverman is expected to add several more before the season gets under way.
Captain Dan Curtis was praised by his manager for "demonstrating composure on the pitch, passion for the club and a consistency that other players look up to last season".
Jonny Reid, Stephen Howard, Adam Greenberg, Alex Skinner and Adam Capal were offloaded during the close season while Joe Cullum has joined a club from outside the MSFL. Silverman said: "He will be our biggest loss." Striker Neil Lux and Paul Rich look set to play bit-parts for the team based at Peter May Sports Centre.
Silverman has high hopes for Mitchell, who along with Barry Green, is expected to be "one of the stars of the team".
"We have a good mix of players, the one thing I think we still lack is a natural goal-scorer."
Last season's JC Barry Goldstein Cup runners-up are looking to kick on, according to manager Darren Rolfe. Captained by Matt Radstone, strikers Assi Avital and Ben Nassim are tipped as the "ones to watch". The manager expects big things from youngsters Brad Cohen and Oli Henry with the team, sponsored by PCP Perry Clayman Project, looking to turn their home ground of Chase Lodge into something of a fortress.
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB C
Promotion is the aim for Avi Gelley's Hustlers. He described the loss of keeper Josh Gertner as "a big blow" but predicts that the goals of Chaim Gothold will help the team challenge for honours.
Sponsored by Kisharon, the Reds are based at West Hendon.