JC CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP FINAL
Hendon United Sports Club A 3 Brady Maccabi A 1
Strikes from Greg Corin, Josh Bentley and Ari Last helped Hendon clinch part one of a possible treble as they beat Premier Division rivals Brady at a rain-soaked Wingate & Finchley on Sunday night.
The heavens opened as the teams set foot on the pitch and both sides struggled to get a foothold in the opening exchanges.
Hendon created the first opening on seven minutes when Corin's cross was flicked goalwards by Avidan Last, only for Brady keeper Oli Colmans to tip the ball over the bar.
Left-back Martin Smulovitch was the first name into referee Andy Myerson's notebook. The stalwart defender hauled Brady danger man Paul Hakim following a promising raid down the right.
Hendon broke the deadlock just after the midway point of the first half. A twinkle-toed run by Ari Last saw him find Avidan Last whose dangerous low whipped cross rolled across the Brady six-yard box for Corin to apply the finishing touch.
Brady responded almost immediately as seconds after the restart, Hakim broke free and fired goalwards from 18 yards, only to be denied by a breath-taking save from Russell Corin, who pushed the ball around the post with his finger-tips.
With half time just seconds away, Brady were awarded a penalty when Jonathan Green was clipped in the penalty area by Smulovitch and Ellis converted the resulting spot-kick with the last kick of the half.
Buoyed by the goal, Brady started the second half on the front foot. TJ Keterman blazed over from 20 yards before Josh Lipman went into the notebook after a crude foul.
Hakim then sent a free-kick whistling inches wide from 20 yards before Bentley replaced right-back Alex Gilbert.
Brady continued to threaten with a sumptuous ball from Keterman finding Hershman in space. He outpaced the Hendon defence before colliding with the onrushing Corin. The Brady winger got up first and the whites appealed for a penalty after the keeper appeared to tug his shirt but referee Myerson waved away their appeals.
It was now that Hendon stepped up a gear and they regained the upper hand when Bentley smashed home a brilliant volley on 72 minutes.
With Ben Lauffer a calming presence in the Hendon midfield, they made the game safe when Ari Last was clipped in the area by Ellis and Myerson pointed to the spot. Last dusted himself down to take the penalty but Colmans guessed right and parried the shot. As Last was about to tap the rebound home, assistant-referee Dan Cohen raised his flag, acknowledging that Colmans had moved off his line too early, so Myerson awarded a retake. Last held his nerve second time around to fire a power effort into the right-hand corner.
Brady were denied a second goal when a thunderbolt free-kick from Ellis was brilliantly blocked by Corin.
As the final whistle blew, there were scenes of celebration as Hendon had ended their Wingate jinx.
Manager David Garbacz told JC Sport: "I think the result was thoroughly deserved. Going in level at half-time was a bit of a body blow, but the message in the changing room was positive.
"I felt we dominated possession and in midfield, and did a good job on keeping the dangerous Paul Hakim quiet. Our plan was to keep the ball away from the flank, press high up the pitch and limit the number of set-pieces conceded. This worked a treat.
"I though that Ben Lauffer was the man-of-the-match in the first half and Josh Bentley made a massive impact from the bench. He was so disappointed not to start and being my nephew, it was a tough decision to make.
"I love the Cyril Anekstein Cup. It's a great competition but we now have everything riding on the Peter Morrison final next week.
"I'd like to dedicate our cup victory to the father of Josh Lipman, who recently passed away. He came to watch us regularly and would've been proud of how Josh performed today. He was superb."
Brady boss Josh Rosenfeld told JC Sport: "I thought it was a very entertaining game of football and a great advert for Jewish football. As a team, we have grown and grown all season and I am extremely proud of everyone involved at the club in reaching the final and doing ourselves proud.
"We lost the game with our heads held high and it makes us even stronger for the remainder of the season and for next year.
"As the game goes, we had a plan to stop Hendon playing and I think it was working. We frustrated them, defended extremely well and worked hard for each other. After going behind we kept on playing our way and we thoroughly deserved an equaliser just before half term.
"We went in to the changing room at half time believing if we continued with that tempo and work rate that it was going be our day. We came out stronger, played some excellent flowing football and we had a couple of very good chances to put ourselves ahead.
"For me, the turning point of the game was definitely the penalty that never was. I hate blaming officials but it was a clear-cut penalty with their keeper bringing down Josh Hershman in the box and it was there for everyone to see. That decision didn't go our way and to make matters worse, Hendon then scored from a soft free kick and a soft penalty.
"It's frustrating. You work your socks off all season and for 73 minutes , I really thought it was going to be our day as we would had deserved it. But that’s football unfortunately but it's not good enough. Try telling my boys at full time that we didn’t lose the game because of the way we played and fought, but because of big decisions. These decisions need to go your way in a cup final and you need that bit of luck. However hard you work and well you play you can’t prepare yourself for poor decisions.
"Hendon are an excellent side with quality throughout the team. I am sure they will go an win the treble now and credit to all of them for so much hard work. They are a team who has been together for over five years and we believe we are not far away from being a top Jewish team. We are all gutted and and on reflection we are still frustrated but we move onwards and upwards."
Hendon will look to clinch a cup double when they take on Division One champions Oakwood at Wingate next Sunday.
Hendon: Russell Corin, Alex Gilbert (sub: Josh Bentley), Martin Smulovitch, Josh Lipman, Alex Rosenthal, Avidan Last (sub: Dovid Korman 86), Ari Last, Ben Lauffer, Greg Corin, Rafi Kon, Danny Kon (sub: Yoav Kestenbaum 75). Sub not used: Ben Kon
Scorers: Greg Corin 27, Josh Bentley 72, Ari Last (pen) 80
Booked: Martin Smulovitch 27, Josh Lipman 52, Josh Bentley 85
Brady: Oli Colmans, Joel Lassman (sub: Ryan Fox 88), Nicky Smith, Jonny Ellis (capt), Adam Littas, Jonathan Green (sub: Steve Field 75), Josh Hershman, Lee Platt, Josh Gordon, TJ Keterman, Paul Hakim. Subs not used: Jordan Grant, Danny Cohen
Scorer: Jonny Ellis (pen) 45