Clash of the titans
Super saver: Neasden keeper David Fox made this crucial save to deny Raiders taking the lead in extra time
The best Jewish team in the country will be identified at Wingate & Finchley on Sunday as holders Neasden take on Hendon in a repeat of last season’s showpiece.
The meeting features the two most celebrated MSFL clubs in recent times with Neasden, who were in action in the JC League Cup on Thursday, hoping to clinch part one of a possible treble.
Hendon’s preparations for the final were also hampered by a fixture pile-up that forced them to play Oakwood EDRS on Wednesday.
Neasden got out of jail 12 months ago in a game they played the majority with 10 men following the dismissal of Daniel Cole by Football League ref Vernail Singh. It was not a thriller but as with all finals, the result was the be-all and end-all for a Neasden team who went on to complete the double.
The team recently received a major boost when Matt Stock, the matchwinner in last year’s final, and Daniel Stanton were named in the Team GB open squad competing at July’s Maccabiah.
Neasden and Hendon are the two most recent winners of the Maccabi League crown. As fate would have it, Neasden beat the Hammers last season and received the trophy after the game. Twelve months earlier, it was Hendon who claimed the title after coming from behind in a winner-takes-all contest.
Mind games are clearly playing a part with both camps claiming that their opponents are the fancied team.
Led by Jamie Cole and Daniel Fox, the team has lost just twice in all competitions this season and reached the semi-finals of the London Sunday FA Challenge Cup.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s meeting that will be refereed by John Smith, Fox said: “We have the utmost respect for Hendon. They are the only Jewish team to beat us this year and we know that, on their day, they are always a hard team to beat.
“But we are not thinking too much about them and will concentrate on playing our game. The big games are coming thick and fast for us with boys playing 120 minutes last weekend, and in action again on Thursday.
“Going into the final, I think Hendon are the favourites as they have the fresher legs. I probably sound like Fergie moaning about the fixture congestion but it does give them a huge advantage. But we can we win as we have a winning mentality and we love playing in this competition. We do want to retain our trophy.”
Greg Corin, the former Neasden midfielder, could be the one to watch out for. In the form of his life, he has scored four goals in the competition including a stunning effort in Leeds last weekend.
Having taken over from Jonathan Kestenbaum early season, Hendon boss Benjy Wreschner is relishing the prospect of steering the team to it’s first Morrison success.
“Realistically, we will probably need to play 10 per cent better if we are to have any chance against Neasden,” he said. “They are clearly the team to beat in Jewish football and favourites for the cup.”