MGBSFL DIVISION ONE
FAITHFOLD A 1 NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B 1
Player-manager Markiewicz had put Faithfold ahead in the first half of a match they had the lions share of chances and not even a late leveller for Raiders could dampen their spirits.
"We needed a point and we got it," a jubilant Markiewicz told JC Sport. "We won the league without losing a game - no mean feat for a team that really is only two-years-old and our first season in this division."
The Superhoops went into the game boasting the MGBSFL's only unbeaten record in the league. They had won nine out of 11 matches and required only a point to secure the title following recent 2-2 draw against Redbridge Jewish Care.
Raiders, who started the match two points clear of third-placed Oakwood B, were missing Brandon Sassoon for the clash at the Hive in Edgware, while Faithfold named a strong squad, with the impressive Josh Wagner, Avi Garson, Leor Harel Ben Shirbini and David Leiwy accompanying Markiewicz in a game the hosts started with great attacking intent.
Faithfold spurned a number of chances, either side of Markiewicz's strike, and referee Phil Peters waved away their appeals after Markiewicz's lob over Ben Law was miraculously cleared off the line. Law also stood firm in the NLR goal but he had no chance with the opener, which came as a result of good play from Shirbini. He showed "superb awareness"to set up Markiewicz with a fantastic ball over the top from Louis Naughten. Bearing down on goal Shirbini selflessly played the ball across goal to Markiewicz who chested it down and knocked it past the player on the line.
There were a number of other presentable chances for the home side. More good work just before half-time saw Garson, doing fantastically well, getting to the byline only for his drag back to go agonisingly behind Markiewicz who had an empty net waiting.
David Dinkin and Jake Gilbert worked hard, but got little change out of Johnny Gahan and Wagner, while goalkeeper Josh Corin pulled off several important stops. Raiders were hanging in and their efforts were rewarded in the final minute when a low cross by Gilbert was fired into the roof of the net by Scott Waissel to deny Faithfold victory.
And shortly after referee Peters blew his whistle for the last time, champagne corks were popping as Faithfold's celebrations got under way. "
"I am very proud of my team and I have to thank every single player who contributed over the course of the season," said a delighted Markiewicz. "David Woolf, in attendance today, is going to have a tough time getting medals for all those involved!
"It was hard work but over the course of the season we played some lovely attacking football and my team deserved it."
Reflecting on the action, Markiewicz went on to say: "We should have run away with the game. We missed several very clear opportunities over the 90, bossed the game with some fantastic football but in the end, although we didn't get the result we may have wanted we got the result that we needed.
"My team have been up for this all week, we had an almost full-strength team and picking the squad never mind first XI was really difficult.
"Committed players who have been superb were left out but I think they understood what was at stake. Unity was shown as many turned up to support the club and join in the festivities after, which really shows what this team is about.
"We started the game well and in control, the game followed a pattern of Faithfold domination and Raiders counterattacking. Our foundation was built from the back with Josh Wagner and Johnny Gahan marshalling the defence superbly, Leor Harel and David Kizneris as full-backs letting nothing go by them but also bombing forward at every opportunity to put pressure on Raiders back line.
"Dovi Vogel quietly going about his business of clearing everything up in front of the back four and keeping the ball moving side to side. On the rare occasions that Raiders did manage to get past the back-line, they found themselves up against Joseph 'The Wall' Corin. Not called into action often but like De Gea when he was it was spectacular."
It was later confirmed that Corin had broken a bone in his arm making one heroic stop. "He made three or four wonderful saves, one world-class sliding tackle and even broke his arm, yes really, broke his arm, with one flying stop down to his right," commented Markiewicz. "That was in the first half and he continued on for the 90, making three or four unbelievable saves, only after the game did he get an x-ray to confirm the break.
"Avi Garson and Louis Naghten were the other two players in the middle. Louis the finesse and Garson the engine combing seamlessly together to make sure the team kept moving and leaving Raiders chasing shadows all day.
"David Leiwy was always a threat down the wing, regularly skipping past three or four players, as was the ever-dangerous and top scorer Ben Shirbini on the other side.
"I was fortunate to be able to call upon several outstanding substitutes in Gav Lewis, Zalmy Cohen, Yossi Gordon, Gideon Caller and Johnny Leiwy who more than matched those they replaced.
"Raiders may have nicked a draw but in the end, it was a green and white day."