Neasden and Hendon just got stronger

By Danny Caro, September 4, 2008

Following a summer of high-profile signings, this season's top-flight ultimately looks like a two-horse race.
Defending champions North West Neasden A have promoted assistant-manager Daniel Fox to work alongside top boss Jamie Cole.

The pair have prioritised the title but with strength in depth, a repeat of last season's double is a distinct possibility.

Cole said: "Our main aim is to retain the league which is a feat that has not been accomplished for many years. Saying that, all of the teams have strengthened this year so we will not take anyone lightly."
Fox believes that "the league title could be retained by February 22".

The addition of London Maccabi Lions A pair Ricky Kennet and Lee Bibring gives the team another dimension. Kennet is a real powerhouse who will complement the qualities of Danny Daggers and Matt Sofier while livewire Bibring should bring a handsome goal return. Chigwell winger Darren Yarlett and the player known as TJ also bolster the squad.

Cole said: "Everyone is looking forward to the new season and we are particularly grateful to our new sponsor, Monkey Nuts. The only way to better last season's achievements would be by winning the treble, although we realise that this season will be more difficult as it's natural that everyone wants to beat the champions."

Hendon United A, who were pipped to the post by Neasden in the league and national cup last season, have made some top-notch additions. Former player of the year Michael Pearson and Ben Joseph will help give the team even more of a cutting edge.

But arguably the most significant change is at managerial level with Benjy Wreschner sharing duties with Jonathan Kestenbaum. Initially, Wreschner will assume the role of assistant-manager but with Kestenbaum's Maccabiah responsibilities set to kick in during the new year, Wreschner is likely to take on a very hands-on role. Other new signings are Oakwood's Alex Gilbert and Ilan Scorah from South Manchester. The final piece in the jigsaw is Lorian Madanes who will be available when not on Saturday duty with FC team.

Kestenbaum said: "The squad is strong, balanced and above all, has been preparing during pre-season with a great deal of camaraderie and confidence."

New London Maccabi Lions A boss Andrew Myers will do his utmost to ensure that this is not a season of transition. Having taken over from Ben Winston and Eilon Kennet over the summer, the former Wingate & Finchley captain hopes his wealth of knowledge and experience will rub off on the squad.

Last season, the Rowley Lane team won the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup, but it is the league campaign that Myers knows he will be judged.

"The stated desire of the club is to promote its talent throughout and for the players to play the best level of football available to them," he said. "By ensuring that the club has the total commitment of its players playing on the best facilities available, we have managed to unearth a depth in available talent that we have not had in previous years.

"It will be exciting to see these players grow and develop as the season progresses. The aim is to be competitive on the pitch and leaders it."

Summer signings include strikers Sam Arghebant, David Dinkin, David Rose and David Cohen.

Chigwell Athletic A will be led by Russell Green. The former B team boss has made his intentions clear by making four signings, including the promotion of former Wingate & Finchley star Greg Bookman from the 2nds. Sam McCarthy has joined from Redbridge Jewish Care while Bradley Frankel has returned from his travels.

The Wingate flavour is extended with Sam Lieberman hoping to fill the void left by former captain Daniel Castle. Eight other players have also left.

If the new faces gel instantly, the East Londoners could be dark horses, especially if Steve Summers continues his free-scoring ways. The team is also relieved that striker Dean Ben Yosef agreed to stay.
Faithfold A are looking for a dramatic improvement. Stalwart striker Daryl Phillips will work with Zuriel Solomon in a bid to put the club back on the map. Top signings include the ever versatile Paul Lenchner and Tal Stern while Yoni Raeburn and Bradley Cohen have moved up from the Bs.

Phillips believes the Superhoops "will compete with the top teams. We are still trying to bring in some new players but even if these do not happen we are pretty confident we will be able to improve on last year, where we had a large amount of injury's that kept a few of our experienced players out."

Montana Boca United A are relishing their first season in the top division. The much-travelled Elan Ovits has come in to work alongside the recently married Marc Ziedman.

Ovits has worked the team hard in pre-season and shown that he means business by giving each player a bleep test. A 21-man squad includes summer signings Darren Cohen, Zak McLeod and Ricky Bloomberg.
He said: "Montana are prepared for the challenges that lie ahead this season. We have worked hard and built a fit, confident and formidable squad to compete against the very best.

"We are not here to make up the numbers. Our aim is to win trophies and emulate the likes of Neasden, Hendon and the Lions. The players are fired up and ready to go."

Montana will also compete in the London Intermediate Cup.

Having survived their first season with the big boys, Bafana Bafana player-boss Adam Lawrence expects his troops to push on.

The return of Jonny Kay from university is effectively a new signing. Simon Lawrence, 17, is their star man. He top-scored with 12 goals last season.

Gaffer Lawrence "expects big things from Seth Green who will probably admit that last season was a quiet one by his standards".

Lawrence said: "If the squad is committed and fields our strongest team regularly, I see no reason why we can't be the best team outside the big three."

Redbridge Jewish Care have restructured the club and will field just one team this season.

Striker Darren Brown has joined Trevor Moss in the dugout. He said: "It is hoped that the team will have more strength and quality. Our season begins with plenty of optimism."

The loss of Sam McCarthy will surely affect them but striker Daniel Orgel has re-signed with David Bennett, Muriel Avrham and Richard Cannolik joining the club.

Brown said: "The management, coaching and playing personnel have worked extremely hard over pre-season to adopt an attacking philosophy of football as well as building a squad capable of competing with any team."

The Premier Division looks all the stronger for having Glenthorne United A back in it. Neil Zeff and Robert Donn were key figures in last season's Division One success and the return of Steve Faye from Brixton Old Boys and Faithfold's Paul Shamplina shows that they mean business. Gavin Factor and Russell Leiter look set to prove valuable additions.

London Maccabi Lions B have brought in former Oakwood EDRS boss Gavin Stollar. He has brought in virtually a new team with 12 players, notably Ben Harris, Elliott Espinoza and James Steele, coming in.

Stollar said: "A good cup run would be nice and an improvement on last season's final position in the table will be seen as progress."

Last updated: 4:56pm, March 2 2009