Watford Friendly League: Challenge Cup Round One
HMH 4 Brady Maccabi 2 (AET)
"The beauty of Cup football is that Jack always has a chance of beating Goliath"
(Terry Butcher, rewriting the Bible)
It all came together at once; at last summer reappeared on the opening day of HMH's Cup campaign, against old rivals Brady Maccabi.
HMH were short of key resources as they took to the field; midfield dynamo, Kalvin Ovsiowitz, was out injured and Ori Goldberg called in sick on the morning of the match. "Cometh the hour, cometh the man", as gutsy England (cricketing) number ten, Cliff Gladwin, once said; this time the men concerned were late call up, Matthew Gold and Alex Berg, returning after injury. Both played key roles in a pulsating cup tie.
However, it was Brady who started brightly and had HMH penned back in their half in the first half hour. HMH found it hard to get going as only Daniel Jacob and Joseph Eagell were able to make any headway as they burst from midfield. Further back Jacob Lester proved that he could make an excellent centre back with a series of clearances, but even he was powerless from preventing Max Klass from opening the scoring for Brady.
Faced with a 1-0 deficit at the break, changes had to be made and on came Gold and Berg, with the result that HMH immediately took on a more solid look in defence.. Suddenly the team clicked and assumed control, with Asher Barkany and Jack Josephs making key interceptions in the centre and Saul Kurer and Daniel Gubbay looking dangerous in attack. Inevitably the equalizer came, courtesy of an impish run and cool finish from Daniel Jacob. Better still, Saul Kurer scored a brilliant goal from close to the touchline and corner flag on the left as he thumped a shot into the top right hand corner. Goal of the season (well at least for the next half an hour).
At 2-1 down it was Brady's turn to press for a goal; when it came it was a soft goal, as despite his otherwise excellent performance keeper HMH's keeper, Jacob Virchis, allowed a shot to wriggle from his hands and over the line.
With the scores level at 2-2 the game proceeded into extra time, and during the first half of this it seemed as if both teams might settle for penalties as neither created much by way of a chance. However, with Berg and Gold re-introduced after the break for Ariel Gould and Samuel Freedman, and Jacob Lester and Gili Goldberg continuing their excellent work behind a midfield, in which Asher Barkany and Jack Josephs were doing excellent work in shielding the back four HMH suddenly looked the stronger team,; Joseph Eagell in particular continuing his excellent form. Then captain, Jack Josephs, made a trademark run down the left, cut inside and launched an unbelievable drive into the same top corner in which Saul had scored, for an even more fantastic goal; 3-2, which was soon to become 4-2 as Daniel Gubbay scored a typical poacher's goal, capitalizing on a defensive error by Brady. Cue ecstatic celebrations from HMH and its supporters; like another famous 4-2 score line in extra time in a cup game, they were on the pitch, they thought it was all over and it was.... well almost!
There was still time for late drama as Brady pressed for a late goal as, amazingly, with HMH's goalkeeper beaten, Samuel Freedman managed to divert a fierce shot on to the crossbar and clear. After that HMH broke up field and were not troubled further in recording a memorable and well deserved victory.
Man of the match: Joseph Eagell