PETER MORRISON TROPHY ROUND ONE
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B 3 RCUK FC 4
Player-manager Avi Markiewicz was the hero of the hour as RCUK FC caused their second cup upset of the season as they beat first division Hendon B in a seven-goal thriller.
A ding-dong derby saw Hendon lead twice, through Adam Ellis and Gideon Barth before a wonder strike from Gab Saul sent it into extra-time.
RC started in a 5-1-2-1 formation. Player-manager Markiewicz explained: "This may sound odd as that only accounts for 10 men and very light in the middle, but it was very effective. Dudi Edryei played as a lone central midfielder and it was like there was three of him. Josh Shaffer neutralised the threat of Adam Ellis. Our plan was to keep it tight at the back and spread the ball to the wings where all the space is at The Ark and it worked well."
However, Ellis opened the scoring in spectacular style, latching on to a long ball and went past three defenders before sliding out first under the keeper.
RCUK levelled but Hendon restored their advantage following good work by Jono Nesbitt and Gid Barth who exchanged several passes while drifting past defenders, resulting in a calm finish past the keep by Barth for 2-1.
The visitors switched to a 4-4-1 formation in the second half, with Shaffer keeping his role as the Ellis neutraliser. They equalised through a sweeping moved that ended with a a great cut-back and a delicate finish by Mordy Weiler. RC then forged ahead through a sweet free-kick that was hit powerfully by Markiewicz from about 25 yards out and flew like an arrow into the bottom corner.
Saul set up nail-biting finish with a cracker. He tried his luck from 30 yards and watched the ball fly over the keepers head to level it up with five minutes to go.
The game was closer then it should have been, according to Markiewicz. Apart from the goals and a few corners that RC keeper, Robbie comfortably punched clear, he wasn't troubled. RC hit the post twice, missed a few chances and generally weren't clinical enough in Hendon's area.
RC only had 11 players for the entire game men and had to play large portions of the final 10 minutes and extra-time with 10 men as several of the players who had run themselves into the ground were going down with cramp and had to go off, yet RC still managed to dominate.
There was one final twist with about five minutes to go in the second half of extra-time when Akiva Solomon won a free-kick wide out to the right,.Markiewicz had already scored one free-kick - and with not many RC players forward as they were worried about being broken on the counter and cramp kicking in - he decided he would try his luck. From about 30 yards the ball was hit with whip and pace and it curled over the keeper and in. There was minimal celebration then, but when the final whistle went it was an RC Party.
Match-winner Markiewicz proudly told JC Sport: "I am so proud of every one of my boys there today; we went down twice and came back. We were pegged back before full-time when we finally did go ahead. It felt like nothing was going for us but we didn't stop for one moment.
"For 11 players to play a whole game plus extra-time against a team in the division above on such a large pitch and win is simply a phenomenal achievement. If you see any one in Shul over Simchas Torah who cramps up during the dancing, ask him if he plays for RC!"
Hendon joint-manager Jono Nesbitt told JC Sport; "It was a fantastic game of football with both teams really up for it, although we were probably on the back foot for a lot of he game we countered well and took our chances well.
"It was agonising to lose the game with only five minutes left to go but it's hard to criticise the team after a quality and high-energy performance like that.
"If we can play like that every week in the league we will pick up a lot of wins."