CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP SEMI-FINAL
MACCABI LONDON LIONS B 1 MACCABI LONDON LIONS A 1
AET (0-0 after normal time. Lions A won 5-4 on penalties)
After last week’s upset in the Peter Morrison Trophy quarter-final against their U21 team, Lions A had another nightmare fixture.
Clearly the A team management were impressed by some of the younger players they faced up against from the U21 squad as they listed the following in this week’s squad: Reuben Rabstein started goal, alongside Jack Mattey, Max Misrahi and Sam Hamerton – with all four players having a strong impact on the outcome of this semi final.
From the first kick, the game was played in high spirits, with both sides competing hard and fairly, at the same time showing their club mates a tremendous level of respect. However, neither side gave much away in the first half with no memorable goal-scoring opportunities worth mentioning. Credit to both defences, who looked well disciplined throughout and made themselves difficult to beat.
The second half was more open, with Lions A creating a few good chances for themselves. Sam Arghebant looked lively as he began threading balls in behind the B-team back-line.
The A’s went close when Arghebant fired a great ball in from the right hand byline that fell to Mattey, but his effort sailed a few inches over the bar.
The A-team defence of Hamerton, Max Hassell, Jon Ellis and Will Beresford continued to stand firm throughout the half, with little troubling them, giving Rabstein a number of quiet periods. Although, up the other end, the B team back line remained resolute with 0-0 being the final score after 90 minutes.
A-team manager Springer, utilised the rolling subs system by constantly switching wide men, Elliott Stern, Harry Marlow and Mattey around time and again to keep things fresh. After a quiet first half of extra time passed, it was the second period that witnessed the tie’s real drama. Ben Lampert, Jamie Jackson and Misrahi took control of the midfield and began giving talisman Adam Arnold, who had been tightly marked all game, some passes that led to goal-scoring threats.
With approximately five minutes remaining, Arnold picked the ball up on the edge of the area and weaved his way through their defence, side stepping a couple of tackles, before his magic feet were clipped by his marker – penalty Lions A. After the woe of missing in the shoot out last week Arnold was adamant that no-one else was taking this spot kick. It was his chance to put things right. He stepped up and struck the ball, with authority, low and hard into the corner of the net.
With only minutes to play, the A team players mobbed him in jubilation knowing they were “moments away” from the final.
The B team had now thrown everyone forward and with just a minute or so remaining won a free-kick just over the halfway line in the A team half. As Ben Winters arrowed a long ball into the A team box, the 40-50 spectators at Rowley Lane witnessed the most dramatic moment yet. Winters ball caused a moment of confusion and panic by landing inside the six-yard box, leading to a goal-mouth scramble which saw the ball bumbled over the line by Josh Bloom in the 118th minute, leading to ecstatic scenes amongst the B-team players, dugout and fans.
The A’s managed one last chance as Ellis found himself inside the area, but his effort went just right of the near post, which signalled the time no one wanted, penalties (again for the A’s).
Michael Kenley was first up in the shoot out for the B team – and his powerful shot, which looked destined for the bottom corner to Rabstein’s left was miraculously palmed away by the young stopper. This was the key moment that determined the shoot-out’s faith with all nine other penalty takers scoring from the spot.
It was a tense and draining semi final, full of drama, which was played in the best of spirits. The A-team now move on to the league for the next few weeks before the final at Wingate & Finchley.
Lions B boss Sam Marchant told JC Sport: "This was a well-fought game in very tough, windy conditions. The conditions meant that neither side could really play the football they would have liked but nonetheless the game was a spectacle.
"I feel as though we had the better chances of the two sides, with Kingston hitting the crossbar from a header which was followed by two goal line clearances, and a terrific save from Rabstein from a Brafman point blank header.
"The A’s didn’t create too much from open play, however a penalty in the 115th minute was a tough moment for us to take. Although they scored, to react the way we did was truly terrific to take it to penalties. Once it goes to penalties, it really is a lottery, and it was Rabstein in goal who made the only save in the shootout which proved to be decisive.
"The A’s had penalty practice last week when they lost in the quarter-finals, and today they made sure that didn’t happen. I wish them a big congratulations on making it to the final and I hope they can go on to lift the cup.
"This cup run was purely a bonus for us, and from the get-go our focus has been on the league. Promotion to the Premier is now within touching distance and we believe we can achieve it. Our heads are held high, it was a strong, passionate and spirited performance. It’s now in the past and we look forward to finishing the season on a high and achieving something great.”
LIONS A: Reuben Rabstein, Sam Hamerton, Will Beresford, Ben Lampert, Max Hassell, Jon Ellis, Elliott Stern, Jamie Jackson, Adam Arnold, Jack Mattey, Brad Sharp. Subs: Dan Misrahi, Sam Arghebant, Harry Marlow
SCORER: Arnold (pen)
LIONS B: James Harpin, Daniel Behar, Ed Brafman, Nathan Anders, Sammy Kingston, Adam Abadi, Dan Green, Benji Weinberger, Charlie Cohen, Ben Winters, Josh Bloom. Subs: Michael Kenley, Dom Feldman, Matt Perlman, Elias Cohen