JC MSFL DIVISION ONE
Woodford Wanderers 3 Temple Fortune A 5
Goals from Brett Stead, Paul Walker (2), Jason Miller and Mike Goldberg helped Fortune ease their relegation fears after leapfrogging Woodford following an eight-goal thriller in Redbridge.
On a rare sunny Sunday morning, the Fortune boys travelled to Essex for a relegation showdown with Woodford. A win for Fortune would give them breathing space from relegation and see them overtake Woodford, a win for Woodford would almost certainly see them stay up for another season in Division One.
The game kicked off and Fortune started strongly, Walker and Stead battling and winning everything in the middle of the park with the game almost passing Woodford's star man and the man much talked about throughout the Jewish league, Mitch Hahn.
Fortune's Josh Marks had the best chance in the earlier stages, after being put clean through and with only the keeper to beat he decided to try a Lionel Messi like chip over the keeper but failed and the Woodford defence dealt with the situation quite comfortably.
The visitors took the lead with a trademark Gilbery throw which on this occasion was headed clear, Goldberg collected the ball and played it out wide back to Gilbery, there was a slight suspicion of offside, but whilst the Woodford team were appealing, Gilbery carried on with play and played a Beckham-esque cross into the path of Stead who bundled it over the line.
The game became quite scrappy and not long before half time Woodford drew level after breaking through Fortune's offside trap, although perhaps the visiting keeper would feel that he could have done better.
Fortune started the second half like a team possessed. A free kick was awarded for a backpass and Goldberg's sweetly struck effort produce a fantastic save from the keeper. The ball wasn’t fully cleared and Gilbery junior laid it off to captain fantastic Walker. There was a deadly silenced as the Fortune skipper turned and cracked home a stunning effort from 25 yards that whistled into the top corner. Full credit to the ref who played an excellent advantage leading up to the goal.
Fortune were really beginning to get on top and after a corner wasn’t properly cleared, the ball was crossed back in and was blocked by the arm of a Woodford defender and the ref quite rightly gave a penalty. Walker stepped up and casually placed it into the bottom left hand corner sending the keeper the wrong.
3-1 up and Fortune thought the game was in the bag, but looking at how their season has gone, everyone knew this wouldn’t be the case. An identical penalty was awarded for Woodford after a cross was blocked by the hand of a Fortune defender and Woodford captain took control and sent the keeper the wrong way to make it 3-2.
The game was end to end and Fortune keeper Steve Murad pulled off three fantastic one-on-one saves to keep Fortune in the lead.
Goldberg nearly finish the game off when collecting the ball from 30 yards and chipping the keeper. The ball looked destined for the net but he saw his effort strike the crossbar and to safety.
Woodford were starting to get on top and it wasn’t long before they got their breakthrough. A through ball to Jerome Marks, who had had caused Fortune's defence trouble all game, smashed it left footed into the bottom corner to draw Woodford level to 3-3.
Credit to Fortune, they didn’t let their head s drop and it paid off as super-sub Miller was then played through and lobbed the on rushing keeper to restore a deserved lead.
Woodford changed their formation to 3-4-3 and really started pressuring Fortune, however leaving big gaps at the back. Fortune were defending for their lives and after a scramble in the box, the ball fell to a Woodford player who sweetly placed the ball towards goal. Fortune had their hearts in their mouths as it seemed it was headed straight for the top corner, but from know where Murad leapt and managed to tip it onto the bar before it was hoofed away by the defence. After the game Fortune's Michael Goldberg said: "This save was one of the greatest save I have ever seen in Sunday league football."
The game was very open and with a minute to go fortune attacked and the ball broke to Goldberg about three yards from goal with the keeper on the floor, what seemed like a bit of a panic from Goldberg, he managed to finish the game off and make it 5-3.
The final whilst blew and you could tell the delight Fortune had by the reaction and the look on their faces. Full credit to the ref as well who put in a very good performance.
Fortune assistant-manager Jack Morris told JC Sport: "It's fair to say I'm absolutely delighted today as we beat WW 5-3 in a fantastic match and secured Division One football for next season in the process.
"We were absolutely outstanding today, and this is what we can do when we have a strong squad available.
"We went 1-0 up early on through Brett Stead, and really could have wrapped the game up before half time, only to concede a sloppy goal right on half time.
"We said at half time that we just need to carry on as we were, and we came flying out the traps second half and went 2-1 up through a Paul Walker screamer, closely followed by a penalty again from Walker to put us 3-1 up.
"Woodford went straight down the other end and got a penalty of their own, and then equalised midway through the half. Our heads could have dropped, but we dug in and scored a fourth with about 15 miutesns remaining, through sub Jason Miller.
"Woodford threw everything at us, and were only denied an equaliser by a truly world-class save from Steven Murad, tipping an effort on to the bar. We then finished them off through a Goldberg goal right at the end.
"I must say I could easily nominate the whole team for team of the week, but will limit it to Josh Marks who returned from injury and put in a real shift up top, Matt Gilbery who was excellent in defence, and Michael Goldberg who ran his socks off up front.
"Finally I have to say Paul Walker was magnificent. If there was a better performance across the MSFL this weekend then I'd be very surprised. His job today was to close down their danger men, get stuck in, and if possible get forward when he could. Not only did he do the first part superbly, he also popped up with two crucial goals to put us in the driving seat. He will certainly feel this in the morning as he covered a ridiculous amount of ground! A real captain's performance and I really hope he gets the player of the week award this weekend.
"I have to also big both myself and Lee up. With a strong squad available, we had some tough decisions to make, especially with our recent run of form and the pressure of relegation upon us. But the team and tactics we went for worked a treat, and the substitution bringing Jason Miller on also worked well as he popped up with the vital fourth goal. We also decided to bring Lee on to tighten things up at 4-3, and that really was the end for Woodford."