Inspirational Yossi does the business again


A week is a long time in football. Over the past seven days, Yossi Benayoun has been on and off the treatment table in a bid to help Israel realise their World Cup dream. The national captain’s brave actions proved in vain as they succumbed in a qualifying double-header against Greece, but I was delighted to see him pop up with another crucial winner to keep alive Liverpool’s Premier League aspirations.

It was just a shame that Manchester United decided to unleash wonderkid Federico Macheda and I just hope the Italian does not have the same kind of impact that Ronnie Rosenthal did when Kenny Dalglish threw him in at the deep end when Liverpool landed their last league crown.

I bumped into another former Liverpool favourite at the England game last week. After watching an uninspiring yet professional performance in the 2-1 win over the Ukraine, I found myself standing alongside BBC pundit Mark Lawrenson waiting for a lift before heading back down Wembley Way. I asked Lawro what he made of the appointment of his Match of the Day colleague Alan Shearer at Newcastle. He replied: “I bet he won’t sleep tonight.”

The cream of Jewish football will be on parade in the Peter Morrison Trophy quarter-final on Sunday morning when holders North West Neasden A take on Chigwell Athletic A. I witnessed the pair locking horns last December in a game where the second-half introduction of Matt Stock changed the game in Neasden’s favour.

My sources tell me that Stock, who will be one to watch at the Maccabiah Games in July, is being flown back specially to play, and it is clear that Neasden will not underestimate their opponents. Joint-manager Jamie Cole said: “I have tremendous respect for Chigwell, but on Sunday there is only one team I want to win and that is us.”

The last time the sides met, Chigwell were managed by Russell Green. On this occasion I believe that Neasden will come up against a different Chigwell side with Greg Bookman and Danny Berg now in the hotseat and with the gifted Dean Nyman coming into their squad for the Jewish FA Cup tie, they will fancy their chances of dumping the holders out.

Neasden have been somewhat fortunate that their run of games has featured a timely break, ensuring that captain Lee Cash has not missed too many big games. With 17 goals already to his name, it is clear that he is the one Chigwell will need to keep an eye on him as Neasden’s biggest threat tries to make up for lost time. Striker Adam Stolerman could start on the bench as could the returning Sammy Ross. But Ricky Kennet and Lee Bibring are set to miss out.

Chigwell, who go into this game on the back of a tiring double-header against London Maccabi Lions A, booked their place in the quarter-finals with a memorable win over the Lions at Rowley Lane. Two stunning finishes from Sam McCarthy and Steve Summers, both coming in the last 15 minutes, set up this mouth-watering tie.

There will be big tussles across the park with the one between Brad Frankel and Cash of vital importance. At the other end, Summers will be looking to get one over Scott Shindler and Jonny Ellis.

Elsewhere, champagne corks will be popping as Southgate Harmen A look to wrap up the Division Two title against Holy Mount Zion, while Woodford Wanderers hope to clinch the Division Four crown against Glenthorne United B.

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