JC CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP ROUND 1
SPEC 1 LOS BLANCOS 4
A brace from Sami Birnbaum plus one apiece from Dovid Greenberg and Benji Englesmen eased Los Blancos to a comfortable win over new boys SPEC. However, they also needed a fair bit of luck.
If there was a crossbar challenge this season, then they would merely need to hand the trophy to SPEC FC. After Simon Lee rattled the crossbar in the closing stages of their defeat to North London Raiders C last week, the bananas thought they would continue the trend and hit the woodwork no less than four times in the first half of their Cyril Anekstein debut.
It was, however, a great first half performance from a depleted SPEC side and no-one would argue they could have been out of sight at half time. First captain Ashley Burns hit a piledriver from 25 yards out which smashed the crossbar before Adam Lenz managed to hit Los Blancos’ new best friend twice more and Nick Wallis did so again from a corner. Los Blancos seemed slightly stunned by the way SPEC started only managing one shot in anger in the first half.
The second half was a completely different story. SPEC took a deserved lead after Adam Lenz got his rewards for a great first half performance after making the most of a slip in the Blancos back four and slotting the ball home. The watching banana faithful more relieved to see the ball avoid the frame of the goal than anything.
The goal only seemed to galvanize Los Blancos though and they upped their game tremendously. They drew level through Dovid Greenberg from the spot after a handball in the area and really took the game to SPEC who were made to pay for their inability to finish their first half chances.
SPEC then failed to clear a free kick and Benji Englesmen was on hand to turn the ball in with just five minutes remaining.
Sami Birnbaum then scored two very well taken goals, one being a fine individual goal and it was curtains for SPEC and harsh lesson taught to them by Blancos.
It was a game that was competed well by both teams but Blancos were the more clinical team and that’s why they will find themselves in the next round of the cup.
Joel Minsky, manager of Los Blancos, said: "Today was a real game of two halves, but only one team made it count. SPEC hit the bar four times in the first 45, so we we're admittedly very lucky to go in at the break all square at 0-0.
"They nicked one early in the second half, but we really grew into the game as it progressed and unlike the opposition we took our chances.
"I'm very proud of how we turned it around today, we we're chasing shadows in the first half and we could have quite easily have given up, especially after going a goal down.
"I've been very impressed with the team's resolve this year - we've gone a goal down in all three games we've played, and stormed back to win them all.
"SPEC played superbly in the first half, its the biggest run around we've been given since we formed - and we've played a couple of Premier League teams in our time.
"They're clearly a very strong team and I'll be very surprised if they aren't challenging for the Division 4 title this year."
Whilst Ricky Lawrence was full of praise for the way his fellow players played in the first half, he was disappointed with the way the game ended. He also wasn’t too happy with the situation surrounding their lack of goalkeeper for the game.
“I’m a big fan of what the league do, however we suffered an injury to our goalkeeper the day after our first game. We acted as quickly as we could to secure a goalkeeper and we did so for our second fixture only to be told he wouldn’t be eligible for our cup game due to the 14-day rule.
"Whilst the rule itself isn’t such a bad one, it can’t be expected that every team has a reserve goalkeeper and I feel that for goalkeepers at least there should be special dispensation.
"That said, Ashley Lawrence did a good job for us in goal, and the goals conceded were nothing to do with him.
"We’re looking to get our season back on track and we’re looking forward to having a full strength squad as well as our manager Laurence Conway back from business in New York.”
Looking back on the game, Lawrence said: "If you don't take your chances, you don't win football matches. We absolutely bossed the first half, hitting the bar four times, but we never got going in the second half.
"Despite going one up, we fell asleep and Los Blancos made us to pay. Good luck to them in both the cup and league this season."