Olim League review: February 4

February 6, 2012
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A goal from Martin Udeani earned Aviv City a 2-1 over defending champions England A in the Hamilton FC Olim League.

England A went into the game with the psychological edge after beating Aviv City twice last season, by respective five and six goal margins.

However, Aviv City have bounced from their poor debut season, including a record high of second place earlier this season.

It was England who started off on top, with their trademark possession football enabling the team to dominate midfield.

However, City forged ahead after eight minutes following a stunning counter-attack which saw joint-manager Uri Schneider set up mid-fielder Ariel Peretz.

England responded well and continued to press with Roy Benizou helping in an effort from Omri to take the teams in level at the break.

England started the second half where they left off the first and they attempted to put the game to bed, but but City goal-keeper Rob Bradman was having the game of the season and made some fine saves to keep City in the game.

One of the most intriguing battles on the pitch saw a "Maccabiah battle" between the pacy Adam Jaffe (ex-Maccabiah Team USA) failing to break through the England defence, tightly marked former Team GB star Josh Hantman, who came into this match after a year sidelined from injury.

City scored the decisive goal from a corner which saw Nigerian Martin Udeani climb above the England defence to head.

With 15 minutes to go, the tempo became frenetic with England pounding City's defence and laying siege in their peanlty. England had a goal ruled out after the ball was bundled over the line but they were pulled up for a foul on keeper Bradman.

England continued to surge forward but Tomer, Lewis Kaye and Omri all failed to convert their chances.

As the full-time whistle blew, City marked their first-ever victory against England and to move into joint third position, alongside Jerusalem.

Aviv City's Manager Richard Binstock said: "This was a game that we really wanted to win to prove to ourselves that we are a good team and that previous wins were not just anomalies or lucky.

"I respect England A - they consistently play solid, passing football, so to match them on the pitch, and to take the few chances we had to win the game was massive."

Man of the match: Rob Bradman (Aviv City)

Modiin 2 Ra'anana 3
A last-ditch effort from Ariel Langer saw Ra'anana extend their lead at the top of the Olim League.

In a match played in wind-swept conditions in Modi'in, the teams produced an epic battle. Modi'in opened the scoring against the run of play when Noam Cohen found time and space on the right-hand side before producing a fine finish.

With the wind against them, Ra'anana found it difficult to settle until the introduction of Danny Reback to help find the spaces and open up the play.

Ra'anana's traditional passing game was limited due to the difficult conditions, but their presse eventually paid dividends with Naftali Kanicofsky firing home the equaliser.

Ra’anna took the lead on the stroke of half time when a fine free-kick from Omri was parried by the Modi'in keeper, allowing Hillel Bloch to help the ball over the line.

Modi'in came out with renewed vigour in the second half and their defensive duo of Martin Lange and Mark Chass made it difficult for Ra'anana's young strikers to find the way through to close the game out.

Both teams were then denied penalties. From one goal-mouth scramble, Modi'in were forced to change keeper and player-manager Ryan Hass took over in goal.

Ra'anana's failure to kill the game was compounded in the 80th minute when a floated shot slipped out of the clutches of keeper Efraim Blog, allowing Ilan Sharon to add the finishing touch to make it 2-2 and set up a grandstand finish.

The last 10 minutes saw some frantic football and heroic saves from Hass as Ra'anana went in search of the winner. They threw players forward and missed some fine chances but they were eventually rewarded as super-sub Langer broke forward down the left wing and calmly slotted home the winner.

Avi Cohen, R'anana'a co-player-manager said: "It was a tough game for us. We were not on top form and despite being short on substitutes, we showed the character and persistence to get the goal we needed.

"Next week we face another tough game in Jerusalem and hope to come through with our lead at the top intact."

    Last updated: 12:45pm, February 6 2012