Glorious good-Wood

By Danny Caro, March 22, 2012
James Abrams (left) wheels away in delight after scoring the goal that put Oakwood into the Morrison final

James Abrams (left) wheels away in delight after scoring the goal that put Oakwood into the Morrison final

Oakwood joint-manager Ric Blank praised his team for holding their nerve after the Division One table-toppers moved into the final of the Peter Morrison Trophy with a 1-0 victory over treble-chasing South Manchester in Whitefield.

A second-half header from super-sub James Abrams was enough to earn Oakwood a place in the final at Wingate & Finchley on April 29.

"We knew we had a chance against a good South side, but we had to execute our game-plan perfectly – and we did," said Blank.

"It was all about the players, and the attitude and commitment from the boys was spot on. They turned up with a smile on their faces and enjoyed themselves every step of the way. They played the game and not the occasion and that won us the tie.

"We were stronger and sharper all over the pitch and should have won by more – missing so many chances at the end that my nerves were shot by the full-time whistle."

The closest South Manchester came to scoring was when Ben Peppi hit the underside of the bar from a free-kick.

The home side's misery was compounded when Mark Stewart was sent off for two bookable offences.

"It was a very tight affair on a small pitch and we always felt one goal would be enough," said Blank. "Despite the odd scare, we were comfortable and got better and better as the game went on.

"I don't like singling out individuals but Adam Levine at centre half was Captain Marvel. He's always been a fantastic player, but has taken his game to a new level at Oakwood. The same can be said of all the players at the club. Ilan Scorah at centre half also showed his old club what they're missing."

South Manchester manager Darryl Lee commented: "It was a pretty poor game of football. Oakwood were very dogged and they deserved the win.

"Our best player, Toby Levy, limped off after only 20 minutes, and with that, our best hope winning the game limped off.

"Oakwood are a top bunch of lads who were gracious in victory and I hope they go on to win it, although they may find things tougher on a big pitch at Wingate & Finchley.

"We've been playing poorly since Christmas and it makes beating Manchester Maccabi irrelevant, who - no disrespect to Oakwood - are twice the team they are.

"It's very disappointing as we will never have a better chance of reaching the final."

"We must now focus on next weekend's potential title-decider against Mace."

Oakwood will look to clinch the JC MSFL Division One title on Sunday when they take on struggling Southgate Harmen B.

Last updated: 7:22pm, March 22 2012