Oakwood's focus now moves on to the Anekstein, says Kristall

Dan Kristall admits the 2-2 draw against Redbridge was the perfect preparation for Oakwood's Cyril Anekstein Cup final showdown against holders North London Raiders on Sunday.



Dan Kristall admits the 2-2 draw against Redbridge was the perfect preparation for Oakwood's Cyril Anekstein Cup final showdown against holders North London Raiders on Sunday.

Indeed it was Raiders who were the ultimate winners after it finished honours even in London Colney. Top-scorer Dave Woolman and Brad Wine netted for Oakwood, with RJC's goals coming through Nathan Sollosi and James Berkley.

A tough game played between the teams occupying second and third. Oakwood took the lead through Woolman early on and as is normal, the goal woke up Redbridge who then bossed the game.

RJC boss Jon Jacobs felt his midfielders "didn't get protection from the ref," with both Nathan and Sam Sollosi impeded in a congested midfield. Half-time came and though Redbridge dominated, they were still a goal down.

The equaliser came from a first time shot by the unsung Berkley which surprised everyone but this goal should have seen Redbridge move through the gears and score the goals that their play deserved.

Top-scorer Garfinkle had a number of one-on-ones but didn’t convert and it looked costly when Oakwood regained the lead with a smart finish from Wine following a parry by the Redbridge keeper.

The moment of the game was to come when Nathan Sollosi took the ball in the midfield, strode forward and from 40 yards, simply smashed the ball home and beat the keeper with a fantastic finish.

Redbridge just couldn’t convert their chances and the game ended 2-2.

Oakwood joint-manager Dan Kristall told JC Sport: "It was a really tough game against a very strong Redbridge side and given how stretched our squad was, we will certainly be the happier of the two teams with the point. It also keeps us very much in the fight for second place.

"Without Cantor, Helman, Alex Lee, Dan Rose and Bentwood we had to be resilient enough and, especially in the second half, where we knew we had to dig in and keep Redbridge out is a real credit to our teams effort and desire.

"I am quite certain that we would have lost that game earlier in the season. In fact we did exactly that in the reverse fixture, from a winning position but our game management was much better.

"As soon as we saw their line up with all three Sollosi’s (only one started against Raiders), and the unplayable Garfinkle who was as good as anything that I have seen this season, including the Lions Saturday team, we knew that we were in for a really tough game.

"Although Redbridge will rue missed opportunities and I must admit we were very lucky to be 1-0 up at half-time, Woolman’s one on one just before half time should really have doubled our lead.

"As good as Redbridge were going forward, we certainly felt that they were there for the taking at the back. They really struggled with the long ball over the top but we reshuffled at half time and I felt we improved considerably.

"Frustratingly for us are the two goals that we conceded. Both long-range strikes and given the amount of times that they used the pace on the wings and the trickery in midfield, I could easily have accepted a goal where they open us up with a great move but to concede two goals from outside the area is a little disappointing. As good as the second goal was, we switched off and gave the lad the time and space to shoot. I am taking nothing away from the strike though.

"I felt that certainly in the last half an hour, we actually started to grow into the game and created a couple of opportunities on the break and could have actually nicked the game. If we hold on to our 2-1 lead for another 10 minutes, I certainly feel that we could have gone on to win the game. Overall and in isolation, we are happy with the point and it gave all our lads a welcomed run out for next week.

"In terms of the league, we are able to park it for a few weeks and when we do return, we will do our very best to get that second spot. The two withdrawals (Harmen and Blizzard) really haven’t helped that quest as the 0-0 walkovers have impacted our goal difference but we will give it our best shot.

"Well done to Raiders, they have been the most consistent side and should now go on to win the title needing one win in their remaining games. As for us and Redbridge, it is all about consistency. The title was never going to be won or lost today. In our case, we gave ourselves an uphill battle much earlier in the season where we dropped points in vital games that we really couldn’t afford to. We will learn from those lessons for next season where we will be even stronger.

"We now move on to next week’s final and look forward to welcoming back some of the rested/injured players. On our day, we are a match for anyone as we proved in the league meeting with Raiders and we’ll enjoy the underdog card."

RJC boss Jon Jacobs told JC Sport: "Oakwood have games to play against a Harmen side who keep pulling out of games - Blizzard and Raiders - and so, the race for second place is still open but just hope that the other teams show some respect to the league and fulfill the fixtures.

"Redbridge have had a fantastic season and I am so proud of the boys. We had a couple of bad weeks that has cost us ultimately in both league and cup but can’t complain when I manage such a talented team."

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