Cyril Anekstein Cup final special preview


Ric Blank has described the absence of Kyle Bentwood as a major blow ahead of Oakwood’s Cyril Anekstein Cup final showdown against holders North London Raiders A at Wingate & Finchley on Sunday.

Midfield general Bentwood is making good progress after fracturing his collarbone but Blank admits his presence will be missed as Oakwood look to wrestle the League Cup from a Raiders team looking to win the competition for the third season in a row.


"Kyle is a big miss for us," said joint-manager Blank. "But we have great strength in depth this season and have been far more consistent.

"We’re unbeaten in the league since mid-November and have only lost twice in the league all year. We just feel that a lack of consistency in the early part of the season and the lack of player availability for the big games, has really hurt us."

Blank praised the qualities of Dan Kristall who joined him and Alex Schock in the managerial set-up last summer. “Dan has been excellent,” he said. “It has been a season to build-on and the platform for a big title challenge next year."



Kristall believes the 5-0 semi-final success over Hendon United has given the squad a huge lift. “It was a performance to rival any at this level," said Kristall. "We simply took them apart – they were literally in the shock.

"To hammer the Morrison winners and this season’s finalists in that manner was an unbelievable achievement and it could have been more."

Dan Rose and captain Adam Levine – a long-term absentee - will also miss Sunday’s final as they look secure victory at Wingate for the first time following two defeats, while goalkeeper Jonny Blain and Alex Lee face fitness tests.

Kristall said: "We will use the underdog card to our advantage. We know that Raiders will be the big favourites and we understand why given their excellent league campaign only dropping two points all season.

"However, we proved that in our league meeting we can match them and it took them until stoppage-time to sneak a draw that day. If we play to our maximum on Sunday, we believe that we will take the cup.

"Raiders are an excellent side and certainly the team to beat in Jewish football. They are worthy league champions."

NLR joint-manager Rob Richman is confident his players have recovered from the exertions of their Peter Morrison Trophy semi-final against Lions. They have dominated the League Cup competition for the last three years and he says they have risen to the challenge of defending their trophies.

"As champions we knew the going would be that much tougher this season and we’d have to improve to mount a real challenge.

"We made some clever signings in the summer and managed to hold on to all bar one of our squad from last season.

"Every week we have been tested but every week we have risen to the challenge and to be just three points away from back to back league titles and in the Anekstein cup final for the third year in succession is testament to the hard work everyone has put in.

"We now are focused on finishing the season as strongly as possible."

Team GB midfielder Ricky Engleman was their semi-final hero, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-0 win over FC Team A. He was also on target in the previous round when David Dinkin (2), Nick Lewis and Player of the Year contender Jordan Marks completed the scoring in a 5-1 success over Harmen.

But it is clear Jonathan Green and Richman are taking nothing for granted. “Oakwood are a very tough side to play against,” said joint-manager Green. “They are the only side in league football this season to have taken any points from us so we know they are a big threat.

"They have conceded the fewest goals in the league, alongside ourselves, but also have a very dangerous attacking triumvirate in Dave Woolman, Brad Wine and Sam Cantor, not to mention the exceptional Guy Helman.

"We have the utmost respect for them as a side and as a club. It should be a really great, fascinating game.

"The boys want nothing more than back to back Anekstein cup wins. It was a great occasion last year and we are ever so focused on doing the business again this year.

"We know we will have to be at our very best against an excellent Oakwood side. They gave us problems in our first league meeting this season and we know they will be looking to repeat a similar level of performance this time round."

NLR will be missing long-term injury victims Adam Joselyn and Alex Kaye. The cup final will also come just too soon for Ben Ellis. Jonny Kay, Alex Moss and Matt Stock are all unavailable.

Richman said: "For us we believe we have enough quality and match-winners at our disposal to really put Oakwood under pressure.

"If we can reach anywhere close to the performance in the second half versus Lions Saturday then we’ll have a very good chance of winning the game and retaining the cup."

JC team news: There will be late fitness tests for goalkeeper Jonny Blain and Alex Lee, both of whom will train on Wednesday in a bid to start. Long-term absentees Adam Levine (captain) and Kyle Bentwood miss out, along with Dan Rose.


OAKWOOD: Jonny Blain, Dean Caplin, Dan Cohen, Dave Cohen, Ilan Scorah, Danny Ailon, Eddie Manson, Dale Bradman, Simon Davies, Josh Rose, Dan Seligman, Guy Helman, Alex Lee, Pete Warner, Brad Wine, Dave Woolman, Sam Cantor, Jordan Sherne, Dan Selwyn, Max Clynes, Ben Polak

RAIDERS: Jake Doffman, Josh Morris, Alex Bloch, JJ Spiro, David Rhodes, Josh Pistol, Ben Joseph, Jono Rockwerger, Elliott Moslawy, Oscar Wagner, Alex Moss, Ricky Engleman, Nick Lewis, Oscar Wagner, David Dinkin, Josh Green, Matt Stock, Liron Mannie, Nyv Bogaire, Jordan Marks

Raiders will be missing Jonny Kay and Ben Ellis, along with long-term injury victims Adam Joselyn and Alex Kaye.

Venue: The Harry Abrahams Stadium, Wingate & Finchley FC, Kick-off: 2.30pm

DC Prediction: Raiders 2 Oakwood 1

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