JC MSFL 2012/13 Week One preview
It's that moment you've all been waiting for, the JC MSFL weekend preview. Danny Caro looks ahead to all the big-match action on Matchday One of the season, where there are some simply mouth-watering contests in store.
YOUR WEEKEND PREVIEW STARTS HERE:
FAITHFOLD A vs BRIXTON OLD BOYS A
Both Faithfold and Brixton go into the new campaign having lost their top-scorers from last season. The Superhoops are still looking to replace Mike Pearson, who rejoined London Maccabi Lions, while Brixton must do without Jamie Kent who recently signed for Shirley Park.
The Green will be looking to hit the ground running on their return to Chase Lodge following a spell at the Hive. Zuriel Solomon's troops have fond memories of the Mill Hill venue and they hope to turn it into a fortress this season.
Looking ahead to kick-off, Solomon told JC Sport: "We are glad to be starting the season having worked hard during pre-season and are very keen to get started.
"We have a nearly full squad bar a few boys away and injured who are Simon Lawrence, Paul Babai, Paul Savitz and Alex Kaye.
"We are going back to our roots by playing at Chase Lodge where the facilities have improved.
"We welcome Brixton to the Lodge and have a lot of respect for John Nitka’s team who I am sure will be up for it.
"We will not underestimate any team in the league and that goes for all the promoted teams as well.
"We have signed a new improved Daryl Phillips to replace Mike Pearson."
Nitka has been keeping his cards close to his chest in the build-up to the game, but after going up last season, they will be looking to take some big scalps this year.
The club have made three signings from outside of the MSFL and re-signed Rob Hershkorn. The signs have looked promising during pre-season with Dan Shermanand Jake Doffman on fire.
With Nitka on holiday, I managed to grab a few words from Rob Blackman, who said: "The whole squad can’t wait to start and we have a lot of competition for places this season."
Brixton are 20-1 to win the title and the bookies have already seen a couple of large bets placed.
As high-octane affair is on the cards between two teams who love to get the ball down and play.
In the end, I can see Faithfold's big match experience seeing them home, but only just.
Venue - Chase Lodge, KO - 10.30am, Ref - Warwick Blake
JC star man: Daryl Phillips (Faithfold)
DC Prediction: Faithfold A 2 Brixton A 1
OAKWOOD A vs NORSTAR A
There's a real treat in store at Parmiters where Division One champions Oakwood entertain fellow new boys Norstar.
The mighty Oaks had a memorable campaign last year, when they also reached the final of the Peter Morrison Trophy where they gave Hendon the fright of their life.
It would be fair to say that both teams are champing at the bit for kick-off. Pre-season is behind them and once that first whistle blows, I expect them to go at one another hell for leather.
Quite a few people are tipping the Oaks for big things this season and joint-manager Ric Blank is confident his troops can deal with the hype.
"We are thoroughly looking forward to Sunday's curtain raiser," he told JC Sport. "Last season was unbelievable but this season promises to deliver bigger and better challenges.
"We've had a fantastic pre-season and the lads are desperate to get out there and put their hard work into practice. It's a very early start the season and, as a result, we've got a few away, but we're not complaining. We'd always choose to play over not."
It's clear Blanc and co have plenty of respect for Sunday's visitors. "Norstar are an extremely strong side and they've signed a host of new players so will be even stronger,' he added. "Everyone knows that Brady, Hendon, Lions, Redbridge and Faithfold are the top five sides in this division. But Norstar would be my dark horses.
"We are still smarting from last season's defeats and know we'll have to be at our very best to get something from the game. I saw the boys at the meeting on Tuesday and they looked very confident - but we'll be up for it."
Phil Peters and Jamie Slavin have been working tirelessly over the summer trying to ensure their squad is up to Premier Division standard. After several successful season, they have reached the summit of the MSFL and will be hellbent on ensuring they are not one-season wonders.
"We can't wait for the season to start and spirits are high following last Sunday's victory over North London Raiders A," Peters told JC Sport. "Our new signings are bedding in nicely and Oakwood are a side we know fairly well having done the double over them in the league last season."
There will be some intriguing battles all over the pitch. One massive lost will be Norstar left-back Jamie Freed whose recent engagement has prompted a spate of wedding-related absences from first-team action. He's promised the gaffer that this won't affect his performance when he returns in a few months time but Oakwood's right winger must be breathing a huge sigh of relief."
Peters has been keeping his cards close to his chest in pre-season but is confident his team have not only the hunger and spirit required to succeed in the division but the talent as well.
"We've made some excellent acquisitions over the summer and our younger players are continuing to improve," he told JC Sport. "We've played some outstanding football in pre-season and if we can take that form into the league campaign then perhaps we can ruffle some feathers this season.
"Having won the league last season you'd expect Oakwood to be up there again and make a real good go of it so we're probably the underdogs this week. We don't mind that tag though with no one having given us much of a chance of promotion over the last four years. But now we're in the big time, we intend to stay there and three points on Sunday would be just the start we're looking for."
Sunday's opener will be refereed by Dan Cohen, who was keen to point out that he turned down the opportunity to join both teams. No doubt, he'll be looking for as many positive references and will be keen to leave the headline-making to the players this time!
I think the first 20 minutes will be crucial on Sunday. Oakwood will look to make a fast start and I think they'll have too much for the Norstar defence on the day.
JC team news: Oakwood are missing Anthony Kintish and no Daniel Abrams. Dave Epstein is easing his way back in via the seconds and is still a few weeks away from fitness."
Norstar will hand a late fitness-test to new signing Alex Jacobs who injured his neck in last week's friendly, whilst talks are ongoing between Jonny Kay and his lady about whether she'll let him leave Birmingham early on Sunday morning after a wedding the night before.
Venue - Parmiters, KO - 10.30am, Ref - Dan Cohen
JC star man: Adam Levine (Oakwood)
DC Prediction: Oakwood 3 Norstar 1
NORTH LONDON RAIDERS A vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE A
A big crowd is expected at Brunel where former champions Redbridge make the long journey to take on a new-look Raiders team.
While Rob Richman's men had an excellent first season in the top-flight, the addition of some former A-team players including David Rhodes, Adam Posner and Jamie Wolfson are sure to give them an added dimension.
L'Orange fans are looking forward to seeing Wolfson link up with David Dinkin on the slick 3G surface graced by none other than the legend that is Usain Bolt recently.
Everyone in the Raiders camp believes that they are capable of big things this season and there would be no better way to start than with three points against RJC.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Richman told JC Sport: "We are all set and ready for the first game of the season. We have played a lot of pre-season matches and everyone has managed to get a decent amount of game time so we have no excuses come Sunday about any lack of match fitness or practice.
"Redbridge will pose a big test as they are a very decent side but we look forward to the task."
Captained by Adam Hakimi, the Redbridge boys are determined to mount a sustained title assault and wrestle back the MSFL crown.
Last season they made a stuttering start and were always playing catch-up, but manager Eilon Kennet will be confident of going close, as long as he strong squads every week of the season.
He needs his big match players such as Dan Lee and Adam Bolle to play week in, week out, while there are high hopes for the Sollosi brothers.
With the clock counting down to kick-off, Kennet told JC Sport: "Playing Raiders at Brunel is never easy, especially when it's the first game of the season.
"However, we start this season with a bigger squad, which means a strong bench and competition for places.
"This game will be a good test of how successful we've been in addressing last season's problems."
I'm expecting Sunday's match to be played at a fast and furious pace and if Raiders take their chances, I can see them coming away with the points.
JC team news: Raiders are missing Elliot Espinoza and Oli Henry, but have everyone else fit and available. Josh Morris set for Raiders debut.
Venue - Brunel Uni, KO - 10.30am, Ref - Nicky Bloom
JC star man: David Rhodes (Raiders)
DC Prediction: North London Raiders A 3 Redbridge Jewish Care A 2
NORTH WEST NEASDEN A vs GLENTHORNE UNITED A
There was good news and bad news for Neasden fans during pre-season; the good news is that they managed to retain the services of Danny Daggers and Lee Cash. The bad news, however, is that they midfield general Matt Sofier to Brady Maccabi A.
No doubt Neasden will have attracted one or two other top players in a season that promises much and with the ever-reliable Dan Hodes pulling the strings, it would not surprise me if they featured in the promotion mix at the business end of the season.
Big things are expected of Glenthorne this season. Having pooled together their respective A and B teams from last season, I expect them to be the real deal, although they could not have asked for a tougher start.
There will be an intriguing head to head on Sunday with striker Craig Sandford of Glenthorne and Neasden's Jonny Blain key to the outcome. Sandford won the Golden Boot last season, having scored for fun in Division Three. Blain, meanwhile, chipped in with regular goals for Neasden and not only does he know where the goal is, he's always popping up with assists - Teddy Sheringham style.
Looking ahead of Sunday, Glenthorne's Adam Shafron told JC Sport: "We will go there to win the game knowing full well Neasden will be there or thereabouts come may."
A terrific game is on the cards and all I will say is may the best team win.
JC team news: With the new season just days away it was announced that Dec Green has left Lions and will be playing for Neasden this season after a last-minute transfer which was quoted as being "the highest fee for a keeper in MSFL history". After signing a five-year contract, Dec simply commented that he was "glad that the speculation over his future was over and that he could now concentrate on helping Neasden bounce back to the Premier Division where the team belongs".
With a strong spine to the team I wouldn't bet against Neasden getting promotion at their first attempt.
JC team news: Andy Levy and Adam Bernstein the only ones unavalable for Glenthorne this week.
KO - 10.30am, Ref - John Feenstra
JC star man: Darryl Rubin (Glenthorne)
DC Prediction: Neasden 0 Glenthorne 1
SHIRLEY PARK vs UJIA
Shirley Park fans go into the season with great confidence after they secured the services of hotshot Jamie Kent from Brixton. He is expected to form a first-class strikeforce with fellow fox-in-the-box Saul Conway and it would be fair to say that the UJIA backline will need to be on top form for 90 minutes.
Park life are tipped to be the top scorers in the division with their new-look strikeforce, but much will depend on how they fare at the other end of the pitch.
The other bit of good news for Shirley fans is that star man Nicky Plotnek is staying. Manager Dave Lusman did his best Daniel Levy impersonation to fight off big offers from virtually every top-flight club for the former West Brom man who will surely light up the division. No doubt, double promotion made the team an even more attractive proposition.
With Glenthorne, Hendon, Lions, Neasden, Camden and Chigwell hoping to secure a top two finish in May, Lusman knows that his troops will need to pull out all the stops week in, week out, and they won't be able to rely on Kent, Conway and Plotnek.
UJIA go into the season on a high after a success-filled 2012. They won the JC Barry Goldstein Trophy and were promoted, and manager Darren Rolfe believes his boys will more than just make up the numbers.
This promises to be a big season for striker Assi Avital who will surely not become the Andy Carroll of UJIA. The big Israeli forward hit the 20-goal mark last season but he knows that goals are harder to come by in Division One.
Rolfe has named a full-strength team for the trip to Edmonton and I managed to grab a few words with him through his car window at the club's training ground this week.
He told JC Sport: "It's the first game in Division One for us and it must be three points. We know the Park boys very well and they'll be up for it for sure.
"We have had a very good pre-season and look to take that positive form into Sunday's match."
The excellent surface at Norseman FC will suit Shirley down to the ground and I expect home advantage to hold the key on Sunday.
Venue - Norseman FC, KO - 10.30am, Ref - Neil Cooper
JC star man: Jamie Kent (Shirley)
DC Prediction: Shirley Park 3 UJIA 1
SOUTHGATE HARMEN vs FAITHFOLD B
No news is good news. Or at least that what fans of Southgate Harmen hope.
I've struggled to find any information whatsoever about the team who face a test at home to Faithfold B on Matchday One of the season.
Meanwhile, Faithfold B boss Rob Shooman is predicting a competitive division, "with no weak teams".
The Superhoops have one goal of the season - to win more games than they lose.
Captained by the inspirational Ben Moss, they will play with grit and determination and see where it gets them.
Venue - Ashmole School, KO - 10.30am, Ref - Andy Myerson
JC star man: Ben Moss (Faithfold)
DC Prediction: Southgate Harmen 0 Faithfold B 0
BLIZZARD STORM vs NORTH WEST NEASDEN B
The Blizzard boys will be looking to make a fast start when they host Neasden B on Sunday.
Manager Simon Linden has been in and out of meetings all week as he looks to secure some big name signings.
Linden believes the division is wide open and believes his squad is "capable of being in the mix".
The last-minute transfer of former Brixton youngster Josh Mizrahi is added to the squad.
"I'm very confident about Sunday," Linden told JC Sport. "I know it will be a tough game which I always expect from Neasden.
"It's going to be a long old season, loads of big games but I fancy us to compete and hopefully succeed.
Adam Levene is in charge of Neasden these days. He has tipped Alex Lewis as the "one to watch" against a team marshalled by Adam Speck.
JC team news: Michael Woolf and Nick Rubin miss out for Blizzard, but Oli Simons is fit and will wear the no. 1 jersey. David Cohen and Austin Glass are in the squad, hopefully Ben Gurshuny will be available after a 20 million pound transfer was completed last week.
NWN's new signings James Abrams and Doug Carson are expected to debut.
Venue - Hampstead Heath Extension, KO - 10.30am, Ref - Aron Djanogly
JC star man:
DC Prediction: Blizzard Storm 1 NW Neasden B 1
GLENTHORNE UNITED B vs LOS BLANCOS
Los Blancos make the long journey to fortress Fairlop where only a faultless performance will do against a young Glenthorne team.
Adam Hersh has taken over the reins from Joel Minksy over the summer and the new boss is keen to make an impression on Sunday.
"We want to kick off the season opener with a strong team performance.," he told JC Sport. "To show Division Two we are not here for mid-table mediocrity, but to challenge for the title.
While the Thornes will be expecting to roll over most opponents on their own patch, Hersh is quietly confident his troops will be able to pull something special out of the hat.
"We have a couple of debutants looking to impress," he added. "Adam Waters - the Jewish Messi (has he not met Jamie Wolfson?) - formally of Zenit St Whetsone is looking to tear the opposition apart with his silky dribbling and skills, while Jake Suissa is another new signing who is a 50:50 challenge champ and a rock in the defence.
"Along with the regulars Josh Cohen, including arguably the best keeper in the MSFL, left-back of the season Julian Gertner and Mr Reliable and new skipper Joel Kutner.
Liam Stein and Jordan Sapler have high hopes for Glenthorne B this season. "Our ultimate hope is to win the league playing good football and a couple of decent cup runs would be nice too,” Stein told JC Sport.
Both managers will play a hands-on roll on the pitch, with the team bolstered by Jay Lawrence, Adam Goldman and James Berkley from local rivals Redbridge.
Glenthorne B had an exceptional season last year, but with a new-look team, they face a real test of their credentials against a Blancos team I've heard encouraging things about.
Venue - Fairlop, KO - 10.30am, Ref - Dave Lazarus
JC star man: Adam Waters (Blancos)
DC Prediction: Glenthorne B 1 Los Blancos 1
NORSTAR B vs CATFORD & BROMLEY MACCABI
Norstar B and Catford failed to deliver last season and both will be looking for a marked improvement this time around.
On the surface, you'd think that given Norstar A have strengthened significantly, there would be a knock-down affect with the B's, but it doesn't always work that way.
The Cats suffered a heavy defeat in pre-season but they hope to put that behind them on Sunday on the excellent pitches at the John Lyons School in Harrow.
Club stalwart Lester Jacobs returns to the hotseat and with Steve Keller, Yoni Bord and former Wingate star Jonny Lee in the line-up, they might surprise one or two people.
With so many strong teams in the division, three points here could prove vital come the end of the season.
Venue - John Lyons School, KO - 10.30am, Ref - Keith Goodman
JC star man: Raffi Addlestone (Norstar)
DC Prediction: Norstar B 2 Catford & Bromley 1
SPEC FC vs ATHLETIC BILBAUM
There will be plenty more than pride at stake when newly-promoted SPEC FC host the Baums at the Cinderella Hairena.
Bilbaum pipped SPEC to the runners-up spot in Division Four last season and Laurence Conway's troops will be looking to gain the upper hand on Sunday.
SPEC fans will arrive early in the hope they will see a full-strength team, but I have news for them.
I managed to catch up with SPEC's Ricky Lawrence ahead of the crunch clash and this is what he told me.
"When you write a list of people who can't play this Sunday you could almost make a whole team, and a pretty good one too. Whether they are injured or away, we will be missing some key players on Sunday, but the squad we've got should be able to compensate for those losses.
"Saying that, with a couple of players having to leave early to attend stone settings, manager Laurence Conway has got his work cut out for him.
"Despite all that, and despite playing a team who beat us in such a crucial game last season, we are confident we can pick up three points on Sunday, with Nick Berman, Jonny Isbitt and Michael Mirelmen in line for their debut.
James Segal is catching an early flight home from Italy after hearing his services were required. Conway has promised to pay for The Poacher's flights if he scores on Sunday. Segal scored his first goal for the club in pre-season, much to the delight of everyone at the club."
Bilbaum have made big strides over the past couple of seasons and no doubt they will have strengthened again over the summer.
Captain Ed Green played second fiddle to Jake Gilbert in the goal charts last season, but what impressed me most was the improvement in defence. That is arguably what won them second place.
But I expect questions to be asked on Sunday and I think home advantage will give Conway's men the edge.
KO - 10.30am, Ref - Michael Cohen
JC star man: James Segal (SPEC)
DC Prediction: SPEC FC 2 Athletic Bilbaum 1
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB C vs L'EQUIPE
Hendon's respective A and B teams had wonderful seasons last year so it would complete the set if the C's did something special in 2012/13.
New boss Chaim Strom believes they are more than capable of holding their own in a division featuring five new teams.
"We think we can have a realistic push for the title, or at least promotion," he said.
"We've strength in depth and will try to play the Barcelona way."
Strom highlighted Craig Phillips and Omri Madaski as emerging talents who could take the division by storm.
Team spirit will be the motivating factor behind L'Equipe push for honours this season.
Manager David Prager is confident his troops can show their bouncebackability qualities, with striker Andy Burke tipped for an excellent season.
Consistency is key as far as Prager is concerned and if they can get individual defensive errors out of their system, they could spring a surprise.
L'Equipe continue to look for a sponsor and with Dan Finegold and Anthony Isaacs coming on board, they can't wait to get started.
The thing Prager is most pleased about is that they've been able to secure the return of two L’equipe legends in Erez Nounou and Paul Rubenstein.
Bring on the good times ...
Venue - West Hendon Playing Fields, KO - 10.30am
JC star man: Paul Rubenstein (L'Equipe)
DC Prediction: Hendon Utd SC C 2 L'Equipe 2
JEWVENTUS vs OAKWOOD B
"It's a huge day for the club and we are very excited to be making our debut in the MSFL." Those were the words of Oakwood boss Ian Tussie ahead of the team's first ever match in Maccabi League.
"I'm optimistic we can do well this season but I expect a tough game on Sunday," he added. "I don't know much about our opposition but I've heard they're a very good team so we'll have to be up for the challenge. I've heard they've got a nice kit as well which is the most important thing."
The big news coming out of the Oakwood camp this week is that Peter Burrowes North West London area sales manager David Epstein makes his long-awaited comeback from various injuries to take his place in the squad.
Vic Librae is back from a bruised ego and Matthew Beilin is set to make his debut following a broken alarm clock. Elsewhere, they have a host of new signings in contention with Sky Sports News' very own Tim Glass the most high-profile.
Jewventus player-manager Gabriel John believes his squad has what it takes to clinch promotion and go on a good cup run, but it's vital they hit the ground running.
John, who says AC Mill Hill pose the biggest threat, will be delighted to hear that some of Oakwood's finest are missing, for a match that sold out several weeks ago.
All eyes will be on star striker Richard Fogelman, while John says that summer signing Dan Rook is a player who can help take the club to the next level.
Captain Bobsie Cohen will relish the strong winds to boost his Delap-esque long throws, while the silky skills of Ami Wynbourne are sure to push the Oakwood backline to the limit.
Some super deadline day deals sees Gaffer John bring in some experienced players to an already talented Jewve squad.
He told JC Sport: "We're not underestimating Oakwood though and understand from our scouts they've had a very good pre-season.
"But with Fogey in our team, back to fitness and looking sharp, combined with the added strength of Adam Kay, the guile of Mark Fenton and the all-round ability of Dan Ezra, I fancy we will give all teams a good battle."
It's hard to believe that so much talent will grace Division Three this season and I expect both teams to play their part in what promises to be an exhilarating contest.
JC team news: The Oaks are missing Ian Tussie, the heartbeat of the team and fans' favourite, who has a damaged knee that may well keep him out for the next few weeks. Tussie is "devastated" to not be playing. He said: "I'd bought some new accessories for the game which I was looking forward to trying out. We're also without Ben Polak, who is spending Sunday watching classic headed goals on YouTube, and Dan Cohen, who is watching the Hollyoaks Omnibus on C4+1.
Venue - Chase Lodge, KO - 10.30am, Ref - N. Burns
JC star man: Dan Rook (Jewventus)
DC Prediction: Jewventus 2 Oakwood B 2
NORSTAR C vs AC MILL HILL
It's a new dawn for both Norstar C and AC Mill Hill who will be looking to make an impression on Sunday.
Following a tough couple of pre-season games, a rejuvinated Norstar C came from 3-1 down to draw with Raiders Masters last Sunday and probably should have won the game.
"We're now strong in every department with flair and pace supported by solid tough tackling players," manager Zack Gothelf told JC Sport.
"We don't know much about our opposition, but we're looking to play our own game, build on last Sunday and a very successful training session mid-week and if we play as we can, we're solid at the back and have a genuine threat in front of goal.
"We've got a couple of injuries and have made some last-minute signings, but we've got a strong team out for Sunday's game."
IWhen I asked manager Joe Levy about which teams would be their main rivals, he replied by saying: "They should be fearing us," so I'd be surprised if AC Mill Hill aren't in the top three come the business end of the season
They have made some excellent signings with Ben Zloof arguably the pick of the bunch.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Levy told JC Sport: "We hope to carry on from our last friendly last week where we beat Catford & Bromley 8-0.
"Although we are expecting a tough game and are away from home, we feel if we stick to playing the way we know we can, there is no reason why we cannot get off to a flyer."
A good start is key for this confident Mill Hill squad and as long as they score the first goal and maintain discipline throughout, I can see them edging home.
JC team news: David Grabiner comes in to deputise for James Grabiner who is on his eighth holiday of the summer. They are otherwise near tor full-strength.
KO - 10.30am
JC star man: Ben Zloof (AC Mill Hill)
DC Prediction: Norstar C 1 AC Mill Hill 3