Kennet got Lions out of jail, says Landesberg


Andy Landesberg admits Maccabi London Lions were lucky to reach the final of the Peter Morrison Trophy following a nine-goal thriller against North London Raiders.

A hat-trick from Josh Kennet plus further strikes from Max Kyte and Andy Glynne sent them through in a game where Raiders clawed back a 4-1 deficit to take the tie into extra-time.


It took a moment of magic from Kennet to settle a contest in which Raiders looked dead and buried. He produced a mazy run from the halfway line before finding the far corner with an unerring finish.

The 5-4 victory sets up a final showdown against holders Hendon United Sports Club at Wingate & Finchley on May 8.

Reflecting on an epic 120 minutes of drama, Landesberg told JC Sport: “I suppose from a neutral’s perspective this was a great, competitive, quality football game, between two teams with many players knowing each other extremely well on and off the pitch.


"From my perspective I was extremely disappointed at the performance of our players, especially in the second half. With us playing extremely well and being 4-1 up and then missing two very easy heading chances early in the second half, I think in the end we were very fortunate not to be beaten in the 90 minutes.”

Jonny Kay had given NLR a flying start, thumping home the sweetest of volleys from the edge of the box after five minutes. But the MGBSFL leaders were in front for only five minutes as Kennet raced clear to lob Jake Doffman.

Quickfire strikes from Kennet and Max Kyte gave the Lions a 3-1 interval lead, and Charlie Rubin’s deflected strike early in the second half had seemingly put the result beyond doubt.

But Raiders did not let their heads drop and they battled back like true champions. Strikes from Jordan Marks and Matt Stock hauled the visitors back into the game and a cool finish from Mannie five minutes from time completed the comeback to force extra-time.

Landesberg said: "Raiders, showed what a great team they are, how they never gave up and showed why they are the outstanding team in the league they play in. I think that extra time did us a favour, enabled me to re-focus the guys and literally start the game again in extra time.

"Liron Mannie and Jordan Marks both had a huge impact on the game, and the rest of the Raiders team all put in a huge shift, especially their defenders.

"For Lions I thought there was one player who stood head and shoulders above the rest. Jake Rinsler was immense, he had the same energy and desire levels in the 120th minute as he did at the start of the game. His tackling, defending and passing was exceptional, and we really do have at 18 years old a real athlete in our ranks. Josh Kennet, showed his class and was well rewarded with an excellent hat-trick.

"I know a number of our players are disappointed with themselves, and know that their performance was just not good enough. I warned them at the start, and the 4-1 lead gave them a very false sense of security. Hopefully a few of them will learn that your CV doesn’t necessarily make you a winner.

"The officials were outstanding last night, and especially referee Andy Myerson, very professional and very in control. To the Raiders team and the Management of Richman and Green, I congratulate them for an outstanding performance in creating a superb squad of players, who really can play the game the right way. I wish them the success they deserve for the rest of the season.

"Last night I was angry and felt let down by many of our better players, they know that themselves. This morning I feel exhausted and voiceless, but the game is cruel sometimes, and we have to count ourselves as a little lucky that it is us in the Final.

"It was clear that Jewish football and its players, still are playing at a good level, the sportsmanship shown on the field of play by both teams was superb, and there was literally no bad tackles and unnecessary incidents from any player.

"To see Rowley Lane shine in the late evening with over 200 people watching was also something that was fantastic. I’m a lucky guy to be able to Manage a great Team that is part of a great Club. So we have created the chance to get our hands back on the Peter Morrison Cup, but I am sure Hendon will be no easier than Raiders."

NLR boss Rob Richman was rightly proud of his players following one of the comebacks of the season. He told JC Sport: "Each and every week we turn up to play football we want to test our abilities as a team against the very best.

"Against Lions, we got the opportunity to do exactly that against a team packed full of top class players. We gave it everything we had, left everything on the pitch but just ran out of legs unfortunately in extra time."

As good as NLR were in the second half, Richman was frustrated with a key part of the game in which the visitors were left with an uphill task. "If there is any disappointment in our performance, it’s that our first half performance and in particular the opening 30 minutes we just weren’t at the races," he said.

"We made a few too many errors and against a side as good as Lions that cost us dear. However, the second half we showed exactly what we are about, we showed remarkable courage and desire to pick ourselves off the floor and in the end we had Lions holding out for extra time.

"This is a game that will live long in the memory, thank you to Lions for hosting such a great spectacle and I’m glad that a really good crowd got to see such a riveting game.

"I have to echo Andy Landesberg’s comments regarding Jake Rinsler, he was exceptional all night, he’s already an unbelievable footballer at just 18-years-old.

Josh Kennet too was the most impressive player I have come up against not just this season but in all my time managing. Unfortunately we couldn’t get to grips with him all game and he deserves all the plaudits that come his way for that performance.

"For us I’m ever so proud of the entire team, we were representing the MGBSFL last night and we hope we did them proud. This was the first in a long line of important games we have coming up, we’ll regroup, rest some weary bodies and go again in 10 days time in the Anekstein cup final."

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