Olim League round-up: January 21
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England B returned to winning ways with a hard fought 1-0 win over Modiin in the Hamilton Court FX Olim League.
After their disappointing performance last week, England B managed to put a bit of daylight between themselves and the two teams directly below them.
The conditions were perfect and England B set about their task from the first whistle, although they were hit almost straight away by injury as player-manager Cliff Corney had to leave the field of play after pulling up with a muscle strain. A tactical reshuffle saw Chanani Corney move to left back and Kfir coming on to the left wing.
England B continued to play in the opposing half. Modiin took some time to get going and managed a couple of half chances but the pattern of the game stayed the same.
The decisive moment came early in the second half. Right-back Jon Shelmo played the ball frup the line to Roy Bihi-Zenou. He took it past their left back and played a beautiful ball across the face of the goal where Omri Hamama shot the ball in to the top of the net.
England B continued to threaten but were unable to find the net again. They were also hit by two further injuries which forced them to see out the game with 10 men.
Modiin tried to capitalise but the England players stood firm and held on to the lead until the final whistle.
Manager Cliff Corney said: "We wanted to restore a bit of pride to the team after last week's shambles and I believe we did that.
"The most pleasing aspect of today’s game was the concentration at the back - it was our first clean sheet of the season."
Elsewhere, a hat-trick from Aviad Ben Meir saw Ra'anana run out 4-3 victors in a thriller against Aviv.
Two of the most improved teams in the Olim League this season battled it out for the second time in a couple of months.
Ra'anana were looking to solidify their position at the top of the table and build on last week's empathic 8-1 drubbing of England B, while Aviv were looking to claw themselves back into the championship race.
Aviv started strongly and controlled the midfield exchanges. They forced ahead when prolific Nigerian striker Martin Udeani fired home.
Ra'anana tried to edge their way back into the game but but found themselves further behind after an incredible run from Nigerian Remi Ozoagu. He rounded three defenders before slotting home into the bottom right hand corner.
A couple of tactical substitutions saw Ra'anana come out for the second half with a new found sense of purpose and they started to take the fight to Aviv.
Switching from their traditional passing game to a more direct approach, Ra'anana pressured well and eventually capitalized on a corner with Yair Aaronson finding the back of the net.
This was just the impetus Ra'anana needed to restore their belief and showed that they could be creative enough to find a way around the tight Aviv defending.
Excellent displays from central defenders Natan Wiesenberg and Hillel Bloch enabled Ra'anana joint-player-manager Avi Cohen to make his mark in midfield. He found top-scorer Ben Meir with a slide-rule pass and a fine strike drew the teams level.
The momentum was now with Ra’anana and as the game opened up, Ben Meir, who was now playing as an orthodox striker, scored twice in quick succession to complete his second consecutive hat-trick and boost his chances of winning the league's coveted Golden Boot.
Leading 4-2, Ra'anana were now in full control and they continued to threaten and only the heroics of keeper Rob Bradman kept Aviv in the game.
Aviv were, however, given a glimmer of hope when, after some dubious decisions from the referee, Ariel Peretz captilised on some poor defending to net a third goal and set up a grandstand finish.
In the end, Ra'anana were left to reflect on their second consecutive 4-3 victory over Aviv.
Ra'aana manager Avi Wiesenberg said: "This was a truly great result for us and a fantastic game of football.
"We showed real determination and grit and a level of maturity in finding a way back into this game.
"The guys knew how important this was and we are ecstatic to solidify our position at the top of the table.
"Aviv were excellent on the night and we came out fighting in the second half and were justly rewarded.
"It's a great message to our new sponsors and we look forward to becoming the Ra'anana MeatLanders and hope we can continue our solid run of form."