There are some cracking games in store in what is scheduled to be a full programme of league action in the JC MSFL this weekend. Danny Caro looks ahead to all the action.
PETER MORRISON TROPHY QUARTER-FINAL DRAW
South Manchester Sports 1st vs Manchester Maccabi 1st
Chigwell Athletic vs Oakwood
Redbridge Jewish Care A vs Hyde Park Rovers
Brady Maccabi A vs North West Neasden A
Ties scheduled to take place on February 19
JC CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP SEMI-FINAL DRAW
Brady Maccabi A vs Brixton Old Boys A (March 4)
Hendon United Sports Club A vs North London Raiders A (February 26)
MATCHDAY 21 AWARDS
JC MSFL SAVE OF THE WEEK
Jay Jaffa (Woodford - preserved the points with a crucial save in the last second of the game. The ball rolled across tge edge of six yard. A Brixton tried to hammer home but Jaffa got down low and quick blocking the ball with his body to keep Woodford ahead
JC MSFL SUPER-SUB OF THE WEEK
Nigel Someck (Jewventus)
JC MSFL CELEBRATION OF THE WEEK
Paul Lenchner (Chigwell) - snooker cue shot with corner flag
JC MSFL QUOTE OF THE WEEK
Louis Taylor (Neasden C): "It would be wrong of me to talk about the poor refereeing performance, the questionable linesman decisions, the blatant penalty that we were denied or the goal they scored that was offside. Instead, I'll wish JLGB congratulations on their first win and we look forward to meeting them in the league again soon."
JC REFEREE OF THE WEEK
Adam Lewis (Redbridge C vs Camden Park)
JC BARRY GOLDSTEIN CUP DRAW
Group A: Shirley Park, FC Team B, North London Raiders C, SPEC FC
Group B: Los Blancos, UJIA, Athletico Finchley, Glenthorne B
Group C: Faithfold B, Temple Fortune B, Catford and Bromley, Jewventus
Group D: Team JLGB, Blizzard Storm, North West Neasden C, Athletic Bilbaum
JC MSFL PREMIER DIVISION
BRADY MACCABI A vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS A
With snow forecast, there will be a pitch inspection at the Hive on Saturday and again on Sunday morning ahead of the crucial clash between Brady and Raiders.
While L’Orange had last weekend off, Brady moved into the quarter-finals of the Jewish FA Cup after beating first division Temple Fortune A 2-1.
It needed two goals in the last 20 minutes from star man Paul Hakim to take them through and keep alive their hopes of a cup double.
Brady have had the better of the two recent matches in league and cup against Raiders and they will be looking to strike home that advantage on Sunday.
Manager Josh Rosenfeld told JC Sport: "I’m expecting an extremely tough game.
"We have two very exciting cup games to look forward to however this Sunday is the most important one to date.
"We have played Raiders twice already this season and we know the threat they pose."
Raiders have made an encouraging start to 2012 but they know they still have plenty to do if they are to avoid the drop.
The forthcoming JC Cyril Anekstein semi-final against Hendon must be put to the back of their minds as survival is the name of the game.
Victory on Sunday would take them level on points with Brady but the team will be looking to extend their unbeaten run and give a good account of themselves.
Captain David Rhodes is a leader of men and his inspirational teamtalks have certainly had an impact in recent weeks.
Looking ahead to Sunday, a Raiders spokesman told JC Sport: "Every game between now and the end of the season is like a cup final, other than the cup semi-final, of course!
"We know Brady are a very strong team and we will have to be on top of our game.
"The boys know there is a great sense of pride every time they put on the famous Orange shirt and we're asking for 110 per cent from each and every one of them as representing this Football Club is a tremendous honour."
Home advantage could play a part on Sunday but in the end, it will all boil down team which team takes their chances, remains disciplined and who wants it most. It should be a cracker.
JC team news: Josh Hershman returns for Brady, but Zak Presky, TJ Keterman and Paul Hakim are all unavailable . Nicky smith will have a late fitness test
Danny Berliner, Adam Joselyn and Jamie Wolfson are expected to return to the fray for Raiders following a fortnight of futsal.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – K. Goodman, KO – 10am
JC star man: Jonny Ellis (Brady)
DC Prediction: Brady Maccabi 1 NL Raiders A 1
SOUTHGATE HARMEN A vs FC TEAM A
Harmen are boosted by the return of midfield general Ben Murrell and Team GB keeper Matt Davis for the visit of FC Team A on Sunday.
With six games remaining, time is running out as they look to get out of the danger zone and it will need something really special against a side also looking to ensure their Premier Division status.
Harmen’s only league win came against Raiders A at the beginning of October and manager Dan Uzan gave an honest assessment of his team ahead of the game.
Uzan told JC Sport: "Our performances to date have been poor, and on four occasions this season we have played the majority of the game with 10 men, either due to players being sent off in the early stages or players getting injured.
"To play 85 minutes against Hendon two weeks ago with 10 men was an impossible task and demoralising - but we have to put that behind us and give a good account of ourselves this week.
"I still believe we are better than our results suggest, but we need to play with more belief and confidence.
"FC Team are a great team who have come up through the divisions and play good football. I'm expecting a good game and plenty of goals."
Mitch Young’s men have fond memories of the last meeting with Harmen – their first-ever victory in the top-flight.
Matt Drage, Simon Peterman and Jules Noti were the marksmen in a thrilling 3-2 victory.
FC Team have held their own against some of the top teams in the division this season, but Young was gutted after they crashed out of the Morrison against first division Chigwell last week.
He will be looking for a big reaction from his men and I don’t think they will let him down.
Venue – Southbury Leisure Centre, Ref –
JC star man: Richard Salmon (FC Team)
DC Prediction: Southgate Harmen A 1 FC Team A 2
LONDON MACCABI LIONS A vs HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A
Hendon saw their treble hopes quashed by Redbridge last Sunday so bouncebackability will be the name of the game for David Garbacz and co here.
The Hammers gaffer will be looking for a big reaction from their players who are certainly not feeling sorry for themselves. Motti Colman was their star man in the 2-0 defeat last Sunday.
“The season has reached a crucial point,” a determined Garbacz told JC Sport. “We are in pole position in the league yet suffered a truly heart-breaking defeat last week.
“We have a very stretched squad this week for a massive match against a top team.
“It is a time for everyone to stick together and to come out fighting and we must not let the disappointment of losing to Redbridge last week affect our confidence or attitude going into this game.
With some very big players missing for a variety of reasons, we will look to turn to the likes of Ben Lauffer and Motti Colman to add some inspiration on the pitch.
“Motti, especially, is like a big kid in a sweet shop in looking forward to playing against his old club and he will be looking to shine.
“I am expecting a very tough battle in possibly bitterly cold conditions and it might be a case of needing to win ugly and to grind out the result.
“Lions will also be keen to bounce back from a bad loss last week and they will still not have written off their own chances in the league.
“We will have to be patient and professional and our strength in depth will really be tested to the full.
“It will be a test of character and the pressure is most certainly being cranked up, but I feel we can handle it and hopefully will be able to come with the points.”
As Garbacz says, the Lions suffered a heavy defeat last Sunday, as they were put to the sword by the 10 men of Neasden. The margin of defeat came as a big surprise given that they had beaten the same team the previous week.
Managers Malcolm and Josh Newman will be looking to put that 90 minutes behind them and they will remind their squad that they are only a point behind the leaders, although they have played two games more.
Indeed the hosts will have nothing to fear as they’re the only team to beat Hendon in the league this season. Oli Craig was the matchwinner in a tense affair at Hadley on week two of the season.
Jacob Lew and Pete Lazard were singled out for praise by Newman jnr, but I think they will have their hands full with a Hendon team on a mission to ensure they win the coveted title.
JC team news: For Hendon, Paul Bentley and Ari Last are injured , while Josh Bentley and Alex Gilbert are rated doubtful . Yoav Kestenbaum is away and Josh Lipman is unavailable.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – M. Cohen
JC star man: Motti Colman (Hendon)
DC Prediction: LM Lions A 0 Hendon Utd SC A 1
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE A vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B
Adam Bolle, Josh Kennet, Dean Nyman and Daran Bern. That’s enough to frighten the life out of most managers. But it won’t scare the living daylights of Raiders boss Rob Richman who is relishing the prospects of taking on the champions in their own back yard.
While I’ve reserved plenty of column inches over Kennet, this week’s JC Player of the Week, Nyman and Bern, it’s the emergence of Bolle that has really caught the eye in recent weeks.
The former Leyton Orient academy player and son of former Team GB and Wingate & Finchley manager Jon Bolle, is a chip off the old block. He has contributed goals on a regular basis for Eilon Kennet’s men this season and will be looking forward to testing the Raiders backline on Sunday.
RJC flexed their muscles in the cup against Hendon A last Sunday. Bolle and Kennet scored the goals in a 2-0 win, while the performance of the Hakimi brothers also pleased the gaffer. Danny Hakimi’s display against Ben Lauffer certainly ticked the boxes.
Raiders gave an excellent account of themselves against Manchester Maccabi 1st last weekend. They stood firm for 75 minutes before eventually going down 2-1. Top-scorer David Dinkin gave them a late lifeline but they were unable to force extra time after a gallant effort.
L’Orange start the weekend five points ahead of Redbridge, but they have played four games more. Richman will expect the hosts to come at his team from the start and I expect him to put numbers behind the ball and try to hit them on the break. The first 20 minutes is crucial.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Richman told JC Sport: "Redbridge are the one team we have not played this season. They are last year’s double winners who last week knocked out the current league leaders from the cup, so we are expecting a tough match.
"However, we have nothing to fear as our performances this season have shown that we have a squad that can compete at this level and that is exactly what we aim to do Sunday."
The Raiders will be looking to repeat what their A-team achieved earlier this season. It sounds like they will try to go toe to toe in a game that will be won and lost in midfield.
JC team news: David Esterkin comes back into the Raiders squad and Josh Aziz should hopefully have shaken off a groin injury. Gilad Kestenbaum misses out as does Jonny Hesselberg.
Venue – Fairlop, Ref – A. Lewis
JC star man: Adam Bolle (RJC)
DC Prediction: Redbridge JC A 3 NL Raiders B 1
NORTH WEST NEASDEN A vs FAITHFOLD A
Matches between Neasden and Faithfold have never been one of the faint-hearted. The chances are that it will be another passionate affair in Arkley this weekend with Neasden looking to put a big dent in Faithfold’s title aspirations.
Going into the game, Neasden are two places and three points above the Superhoops but they have played four games more.
Indeed Faithfold are looking to finish above their equally illustrious opponents for the second season running going into the first meeting between the teams this season.
Neasden go into the game on the back of a terrific 5-1 victory over Lions A at Rowley Lane in the cup. They did it the hard way though, playing 80 minutes with 10 men which makes the margin of victory all the more impressive.
The only aberration was the dismissal of keeper Max Shields. But in David Fox, they have without doubt the best No. 2 in the league. Foxy has been a revelation since moving outfield but he’s still one of the best between the sticks.
In the end, strikes from Lee Cash (2), Jonny Haik, Ben Ellis and Danny Daggers eased them through.
Joint-manager Darren Yarlett praised his troops after the game, with Jake Gottlieb and Brad Sharp top of his list. He described Gottlieb as the "best Jewish footballer around" and Sharp as the "best left-back in the MSFL", and compared him to Gareth Bale.
Looking ahead to Sunday, co-boss Cash told JC Sport: "We're looking forward to what should be an intriguing game against Faithfold.
"Last season was a transitional period for the first team and Faithfold got the better of us for the first time in as long as we can remember. So I'm sure that come Sunday, the boys will be looking to put that right and normality will resume and the three points will be ours."
Faithfold have had a two-week break to prepare for what promises to be an enthralling 90 minutes. Keeper Ben Law, defenders Alex Taylor and James Frener plus Alex Levack and Mike Pearson will be key men for them again.
But for me, the key battle will come down to the clash of the titans with Cash going head-to-head with Daryl Phillips. The pair have been making the headlines for as long as I care to remember. Both have been crowned MSFL Player of the Year and I dread to think just how many goals they’ve scored between them. Needless to say, they made my JC MSFL Team of the Decade two years ago.
Phillips has been happy playing second fiddle to the genius that is Mike Pearson of late, but I’m sure he’ll want to remind the MSFL fraternity who is top dog on Sunday.
Looking ahead to the crunch clash, assistant-manager Phillips told JC Sport: "We look foward to our game against Neasden this weekend.
"It's always a big game. We beat them three times last season and hope to continue that run on Sunday, with a full squad."
It's game on.
Venue – Hadley FC, Ref – N. Cooper
JC star man: Daryl Phillips (Faithfold)
DC Prediction: NW Neasden A 1 Faithfold A 1
OAKWOOD vs SOUTHGATE HARMEN B
Top takes on bottom in Division One as the Oaks look to extend their four point lead against basement battlers Harmen B.
It's been a great week for Oakwood. First, they booked their place in the last eight of the Morrison with a 1-0 win over Leeds. Then, after Montana folded, they found themselves clear at the summit. Their destiny now lies in their own hands.
It would be fair to say that they have benefitted the most from Montana’s demise and you certainly won’t hear them complaining.
Defensive lynchpin Adam Levine has been in fine form of late and having beaten the Southgate boys 4-2 in September, they are odds-on completing a league double.
Dan Abrams (2), Eddie Mason and Ilan Scorah were the marksmen for Oakwood that day in a game where they cemented the points with two goals in the last 10 minutes.
Looking ahead to kick-off, Blank told JC Sport: "We can't wait for Sunday's game and pray the frost abates for a few days at least.
"Southgate are a useful side with some key danger men that we are going to have be fully focused on stopping.
"Last season they took foir points off us and beat us at Parmiters which ultimately proved a fatal blow in our promotion push.
"So Sunday is about revenge as well as looking to continue our good run in the league.
"We have a good squad to choose from but unfortunately no James Abrams who is away."
The signs look ominous for Harmen right now. With Woodford finding form it appears that they can only drag Temple Fortune A into the relegation dogfight and the likelihood is that only one team will go down now.
Marc Cohen’s men have conceded nine goals in their last two games, although they did recently claim a stunning win at high-flying Norstar.
I could go on, but whichever way you look at it, it looks like a home banker to me.
Venue – Parmiters, Ref – A. Djanogly
JC star man: Anthony Kintish (Oakwood)
DC Prediction: Oakwood 4 Southgate Harmen B 0
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE B vs BRIXTON OLD BOYS A
Anekstein semi-finalists Brixton now have it all to do as they look to climb the table and stake their claim for promotion.
John Nitka’s men have eight games left but the top two slots look a long way off right now.
They were on the wrong end of a seven-goal thriller last Sunday, with top-scorer Jamie Kent (2) and Alon Hershkorn on target in a 4-3 defeat.
After the game, Brixton boss John Nitka told JC Sport: "We just never got started - it was a rude awakening call and there is nothing more to be said."
Back-to-back defeats in the league have left them with plenty to do, but clearly, they have enough quality to get maximum points here.
Looking ahead to Sunday, added: "I have really nothing to say after last weekend's result. However, we shall go out again and see what we can do, subject to the game being played due to the predicted bad weather."
RJC are in the middle of a bad patch right now and they will need to pull out all the stops against a team with a point to prove.
The east Londoners won the corresponding fixture 4-2 through goals from Dan Orgel, Scott Kaye, Adam Goldman and Harrison Grant in September on a day when both teams were missing key players.
I'm not quite sure what has gone wrong for Stirling Kay in recent weeks. They were going great guns until the Chigwell defeat and have gone on to lose three more games since.
Sunday could be a case of getting back to basics and it's vital they keep cool heads in a bid to avert something of a drought in front of goal.
It's all to play for on Sunday in what could be a feisty affair so it’s good to have David Lazarus in charge to keep the players in check.
JC team news: Brixton defender Jamie Gurvitz remains the only long-term absentee.
Venue – Fairlop, Ref – D. Lazarus
JC star man: Rob Hershkorn (Brixton)
DC Prediction: Brixton OB A 2 Redbridge JC B 1
NORSTAR A vs WOODFORD WANDERERS
Montana folding was a bitter pill for Norstar to swallow. They were arguably the biggest losers in the shake-up; losing six points and an 11-0 goal difference made it a tough week for Phil Peters and co.
But Peters and Jamie Slavin won’t allow the players to feel sorry for themselves, especially after retaining the Maccabi GB job for the EMFT in April.
The Stars still have 15 points to play for and they will be gunning for another three points in Wembley on Sunday.
Looking ahead to the big match, Peters told JC Sport: “Woodford’s always a big game for us and the table’s very deceptive. It will be a tough game and both teams will be massively up for it.
“We both need the three points but there's much more than that to play for in this game.”
It’s been a good couple of week’s for Alex Aviram’s Woodford. Last weekend they beat cup semi-finalists Brixton A and it’s good to see them finally clicking into gear.
Aviram would’ve been delighted to see four players find the net, and none of them was called Mitch Hahn. Talk of them being a one-man team are well off the mark, just as Paul Shone, Elliot Gold, Jerome Marks and Adam Poole showed.
A delighted Aviram told JC Sport: “The world looks totally different after back-to-back wins."
With home advantage, most Norstar fans will be confident of seeing their team register an eighth win of the season, but they under-estimate the Wanderers at their peril.
JC team news: Norstar have an almost fully fit squad to choose from, with skipper Jeremy Elster and Dan Gilbert returning from their cold weather training. Adam Kaldor and Adam Graham are the only ones to miss out through injury.
Venue – Ark Academy, Ref – S. Levy
JC star man: Dan Gilbert (Norstar)
DC Prediction: Norstar A 3 Woodford Wanderers 2
More to follow ...
CAMDEN PARK vs HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B
There’s a mouth-watering top of the table clash in store at the Hive on Sunday as leaders Camden entertain the Hornets in a contest that guarantees five-star entertainment.
They go into the game on the back of a terrific result and performance against fellow high-fliers Redbridge C last weekend, when Josh Marks, Richard Silver, Dan Baneth (2), the returning Luke Brookner and Josh Toff were the scorers.
While Hendon are the more experienced team, the Camden boys are showing no signs of nerves at the minute.
I managed to get not one but two quotes out of the Camden camp this week
Manager Josh Marks told JC Sport: “I’m relishing the opportunity to put one hand on the title by beating Hendon this week.
“The boys are full of confidence after an outstanding win last weekend.
“It’s the strongest team we’ve had all season. Defeat is not an option.”
His side-kick, Nick Kagan told JC Sport: “The boys are absolutely buzzing. Promotion has been our aim all season but a win on Sunday puts us in pole position for the title which would be a nice added bonus.
“It’s always good to appease the fans with some silverware. It had been a baron couple of years for the Camden old guard.
“It's up to each player individually to go out there and seize this opportunity to prove to all those who have said nice things about us this season, that not only do we deserve the credit but we deserve to be in Division One.
“The gaffer has good kind of selection headache this week, aside from the long-term injured Fenton and David Khalastchi. The squad is fully fit and boosted by the return of the combative Sam Bennett, who will bolster the ranks in midfield.”
Hendon went one better last Sunday, striking seven past Faithfold C. RA Noe (2), Chaim Gothold, Alex Neiss (2), Gav Noe and Tali Nevies did the damage.
They are really for what promises to be a high-octane affair.
Joint-manager Motty Korman told JC Sport; “Games don't get much bigger than this – a top of the table challenge.
“Both teams have all to play for with a few games left. If we win our games in hand we are top with Camden so Sunday is a real test for us.
“We have been in good form of late, having scored seven for the past two weeks, but we know we are in for a difficult game this week and won't have as many chances as we have had in previous weeks so it is important we are clinical in front of goal.
“Ari Nevies and Parys Hammond both excelled at the back last week, but will have to be on top of their game against free-scoring Camden who smashed six past Redbridge last week.”
“We will not under-estimate our opposition this week, but go into the game knowing if we can get points out of the game we on course for the title run in.
Fans are advised to arrive early in a game that promises goals.
JC team news: hendon welcome back Arthur Caplan and James Joseph. Alex Neiss is likely to be unavailable due to work commitments while Alon Blitz is sidelined with hamstring injury.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – M. Lavender
JC star man: James Joseph (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Camden Park 2 Hendon Utd SC B 2
FAITHFOLD C vs LONDON MACCABI LIONS B
Lions B gave an excellent account of themselves against treble-chasing South Manchester last weekend. Now manager Jamie Kyte is demanding that his troops maintain that standard of performance every week between now and the end of the season.
A top five finish is now the target for the boys from Rowley Lane and there’s a chance that the weather could be more of a threat than their opponents in Edgware on Sunday.
Having beaten leaders Camden Park last time out in the league, Kyte will ask his boys to ‘go again’ as they look to heap more misery on relegation-haunted Faithfold.
The Hoops have been anything but super in the league so far this season. Nine defeats in 12 proves they are struggling and they have problems at both ends of the pitch.
Striker Ben Simons has played his part in keeping the team afloat but striker partner Richard Fogelman has been struck down with a bout of Torresitis.
Schnitzelman joined the club amid much hype, a big price tag and the promise of goals but has so far failed to deliver (and gefilte fish!)
The Lions won the corresponding fixture 3-0 in September with goals from Adam Kosky, Max Kyte and David Elf.
I expect them to complete a league double on Sunday in what could be a torrid morning for the Faithfold defence.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – M. Fox
JC star man: Joel Reuben (Lions)
DC Prediction: Faithfold C 0 London Maccabi Lions B 2
FC TEAM B vs FAITHFOLD B
While Faithfold C are in dire straits, Faithfold B are going great guns but with just two games left, it appears that they have left it too late in their bid to cement a top two finish.
With Rob Shooman away, A team boss Zuriel Solomon masterminded last weekend’s 5-3 win over Norstar B, and he liked what he saw of Dan Stock who scored two goals from midfield.
Solomon got the best out of the younger brother of Team GB star Matt, in a game where Matty Kleinman (2) and Richard Winton completed the scoring.
The Superhoops have now won three on the spin and scored 10 goals in their last two games, so Shooman will be looking for more of the same on Sunday.
Having thumped FC Team B 5-0 as recently as last month, Faithfold fans hope to see their heroes fill their boots once more. Josh Kaye, James Sandler, Matty Kleinman, Seth Green and Jonny Horowitz were the scorers in the corresponding fixture.
Faithfold assistant-manager Ben Lewis told JC Sport: “We’re looking forward to it.”
Although the league campaign is nearly over for both sets of players, they still have plenty to play for with a trip to Wingate & Finchley up for grabs in the JC Barry Goldstein Cup.
FC Team B have conceded 25 goals in their last five games so I expect manager Ben Simon to adopt a no-nonsense approach on Sunday morning.
However, they may not be enough to stop a Faithfold team that is firing on all cylinders.
JC team news: Faithfold are without injured pair Seth Green and Ben Loftus and they are waiting on a couple of late fitness tests.
Venue – Meadow Park
JC star man: Dan Stock (Faithfold)
DC Prediction: FC Team B 1 Faithfold B 4
L’EQUIPE vs NORSTAR B
They don’t like it up em. That is what L’Equipe player-manager David Prager will be telling his troops ahead of kick-off in the relegation six-pointer against Norstar B in Mill Hill.
This is a game that neither side can afford to lose and that scenario could result in a tactical and tense affair.
Norstar's two league wins came over FC Team B and manager Jonny Bunt knows that three points could be crucial come the end of the season.
"We're really excited about the game this Sunday," Bunt told JC Sport. "They were the team I was most keen to play when we got promoted as they are lovely people (and I also thought there might be a chance of three points!).
"Squad-wise, it's small but perfectly formed and we are looking forward to a mudbath at our old home ground in Copthall."
Norstar fans are still talking about Jonathan Kay’s wonder strike last weekend, but I think Adam Seres will be pulling the strings on Sunday and be the man to break L’Equipe hearts.
Venue – Copthall, Ref – S. Ansher
JC star man: Adam Seres (Norstar)
DC Prediction: L’Equipe 2 Norstar B 3
GLENTHORNE UNITED B vs BLIZZARD STORM
The champagne is on ice and the waiting is almost over. There is a big prize in store for Glenthorne if they get the right result on Sunday.
Joint-player-manager Craig Sandford told JC Sport: “There is no bigger incentive than, win this game and we win the league.
“The team has responded to everything that Sam and I have asked from them. They have been focused and disciplined all season and as long as they stay the same then we can hopefully wrap up the title.
“Blizzard Storm have had a good run of results and are in good form. When we played them at the beginning of the season they were very organised and hard to break down. We anticipate a tough game and look forward to the match.”
Indeed it was Sandford who popped up with the winner when the sides met in early September. Josh Wynne had a stand-out game that day.
Blizzard edged the first half but they were unable to put the ball into the back of the net and there was a determined tone in manager Simon Linden’s voice at his midweek press conference.
“The feeling in the camp is good,” Linden told JC Sport. “We want to be the only team to beat Glenthorne. They lived in our shadow last season when we did the double over them.
“However, they have had an outstanding season this time round. They’ve battered all the teams in the division and fully deserve the success, but I’m hopeful we will trip them up.
“I’ve said it before that Blizzard can match anyone on our day. Bring it on!”
The Blizzard boys will certainly not lay out the red carpet treatment on Sunday. There will be a real fanfare feel in the stands before kick-off, but Linden and co will do what they can to delay the inevitable.
JC team news: Glenthorne are missing defender Adam Shafron and striker Fabio Revieccio. He told me this week that he’s been ruled out for the rest of the season.
For Blizzard, Nick Rubin and Sean Ladier are away, but manager Simon Linden returns to the dugout.
Venue – London Marathon Playing Fields, Ref – R. Benardout
JC star man: Dan Lassman (Glenthorne)
DC Prediction: Glenthorne Utd B 3 Blizzard Storm 2
UJIA vs SHIRLEY PARK
Shirley Park are favourites to clinch the second automatic promotion slot this season, but I’m sure UJIA will have something to say about that on Sunday.
Dave Lusman’s men fell just short in the Morrison last Sunday after going down 2-1 against Hyde Park Rovers. A strike from Gideon Gold was not enough to save them.
“We blew it.” Those were the words of Lusman after the game. He felt sick as a parrot after his team was denied by the heroics of the Rovers keeper Simon Falk. In the end, they were left to reflex on the concession of silly goals and what might have been.”
However, Lusman’s day improved after he heard that promotion rivals Neasden C were beaten by basement battlers Team JLGB. I heard reports that Lusman sent JLGB gaffer Rob Silverman a bottle of bubbly after doing his team a big favour.
Shirley’s destiny lies in their own hands now, but they must take nothing for granted against a talented and experienced UJIA team.
Sunday will feature a battle between two of the most celebrated strikers in MSFL football – strikers Assi Avital and Saul Conway. Avital made a name for himself at Golders Green. He is to them what Ian Wright is to Arsenal. He made a slow start to life at UJIA but has been scoring for fun in recent weeks.
Conway has been there, seen it and bought the t-shirt, both at Oakwood and at Hendon. Now he’s leading the goal charts at Shirley and his big match experience will be key between now and May.
It would be fair to say that whoever comes out on top in that battle will come away with the points.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – M. de la Fuente
JC star man: Dan Oade (Shirley)
DC Prediction: UJIA 2 Shirley Park 3
ATHLETIC BILBAUM vs SPEC FC
Ricky Lawrence breathed new life into the Division Four title race last weekend after stunning favourites Brady Maccabi B with a last-minute winner.
Indeed it was a memorable morning for manager Laurence Conway and co in a game lit up by a stunning strike from Daniel Pike.
Sunday is the second of a hat-trick of crucial matches for the SPEC boys as they follow the trip to Bilbaum with a meeting with Division Three high-fliers Shirley Park in the JC Barry Goldstein Cup next weekend.
But one step at a time. That has always been the policy at SPEC FC.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Lawrence told JC Sport: "As important as last week's victory was, it means nothing if we don't pick up all three points on Sunday.
"We showed just how much we want it with a last-minute winner last week in what was an absolute humdinger of a game.
"Bilbaum are top of the league for a reason and we are the only team along with Temple Fortune B that they haven't beaten in the league this season.
"Since we last played them, they have also only dropped two points. They'd probably take a point right now but all three are a must for us.
"It should be a great game and we're all looking forward to our first trip to The Bernabaum. We all can't wait to impress the famous dog walkers!"
Bilbaum start the weekend four points ahead of SPEC, but they’ve played a game more. Player-manager Mark Pasha earned his team a point in the corresponding fixture and they have really kicked on from there, going nine games without defeat.
They have hit the target 13 times in the last 180 minutes with goal-poacher Edward Green scoring five in the last two games.
Bilbaum are the joint-top-scorers in the division, but on Sunday they’ll come up against the meanest defence. Something has to give. Surely.
Looking ahead to the big match, Baums joint-player-manager Mark Pasha told JC Sport: "Simply put, this game is huge, and everyone in the Bilbaum camp, from the guy who polished the goal posts to the professional half time orange slicer, knows it.
"It's been a close and tough fight for pole position up until now, and the Baums have absolutely no intention of throwing the towel in at this crucial stage. Only three points will suffice.
"We know the quality SPEC have in their ranks, and complacency would be crazy. It's clear though that the players are fully aware of the task in hand and if the vibe around the Bernebaum this week is anything to go by, the Baums will be fired up and ready for battle come Sunday.
"It's going to be epic."
It's virtually impossible to call a winner. Don't ask me why, but I have a sneaky feeling for SPEC.
Venue – Hampstead Heath, Ref –
JC star man: Doug Berlin (SPEC)
DC Prediction: Athletic Bilbaum 1 SPEC FC 2
ATHLETICO FINCHLEY vs BOCA JEWNIORS
Star man Ben Mandell misses the visit of Boca on Sunday in what looks like a home banker for the Athletico boys.
Zach Margolin's troops have been edged out in their last two games, but I expect them to get back to winning ways here.
"We want nothing but a win on Sunday," a determined Margolin told JC Sport. "We were very unfortunate last week and we want to get back on track after suffering two losses.
"Looking at Boca's results this season, it is certainly achievable. It could be a question of how many we can score!"
There could be a few tears shed in the Boca camp ahead of their final game of the season.
Boca are looking to end on a high. They've had to endure many low-points in their first season, from losing five players early on to injury and player poaching, while still managing to fulfill every fixture.
Defending has been a problem all season and it’s no surprise that the only time they have claimed a point this season was coincidentally the only time we managed to field a first choice starting XI. Nevertheless, they’ve continued throughout the season and are hoping to end the season 2011/12 season with a bang.
Manager Sefton Monk told JC Sport: "It's been a tough season for the club but a steep learning curve, with 80 per cent of our players never having played 11-a-side football before the season started, so it was always going to be hard.
"We have always improved every week and I hope we can get our first win on Sunday.
"And I am also amused by the ridicules amount of clubs trying to poach Ryan and Jamie. It's not going to happen. unless they are willing to buy me a new car to replace the one that got written off in my car crash three weeks ago.They are not for sale.
"I'd like to also add Anton Nyman scored two great goals this season. He is looking to add another scorcher this Sunday. Watch out!
JC team news: Athletico are without Sam Collins, top-scorer Ben Mandell, Joel Barnett and Andrew Greenwall Cohen. However, Ashley Diamond and Charlie Hollis return and we aim to welcome new signings Pally Margolin and Daniel Mattey. Mattey had a minor set back last week but was back in full training last night.
Top-scorer Jamie Weinrich, who has hit the onion bag 10 times this season, faces a late fitness test and is very doubtful to feature in Boca’s curtain closer. Keeper Ryan Monk has fought off a dozen suiters this transfer window to continue to apply his trade for Boca. Sefton Monk added: "It’s funny how teams are trying to poach players which are family members."
Monk went on to say: "We're missing five players due to injury and unavailability and it's going to be a tough test.
Venue – Copthall, Ref – L. Thorne
JC star man: Charlie Hollis (Athletico)
DC Prediction: Athletico Finchley 4 Boca Jewniors 2
BRIXTON OLD BOYS B vs FC TEAM C
FC Team C won’t gain automatic promotion, but they certainly deserve credit for making a fist of it so far.
Under Michael Myers, they have given as good as they’ve got against some of the more fancied teams, and on Sunday I expect them to come away from Clowes with maximum points against a struggling Brixton B.
Matt Sheldon, David Wexler, Adam Aminoff and Avi Nejad registered when the teams met in September and I the boys in yellow in blue will be looking to fill their boots on Sunday. And you never know, a strong run between now and the end of the season could be rewarded with the invitation of promotion during the summer.
Team gave a good account of themselves against Raiders C last weekend with Jamie Breslaw and Gary Hill the top performers in a game where top-scorer David Cohen found the target once more.
Brixton B’s first season, on the other hand, has been tough. Very tough indeed. The end of the season cannot come soon enough and they will be looking to bow out on a high.
A quick glance at the goals against column will tell you where their problems line. Reinforcements need to be brought in next season and it’s no surprise to see the club offering fans discounted season tickets for next season if they are purchased early in a bid to boost the coffers.
I can only see one winner on Sunday.
Venue – Clowes, Ref – H. Raffe
JC star man: Jamie Breslaw (FC Team)
DC Prediction: Brixton OB B 1 FC Team C 4
TEMPLE FORTUNE B vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS C
Fortune’s promotion challenge has ebbed away so the onus will be on Raiders C taking maximum points as only that will be enough to keep them in the mix.
Oli Shorts’ men have been unable to beat FC Team C this season and last weekend it needed something special from Toby Katz to earn them a point.
Shorts and Rich Abrahams are already dreaming of Wembley after the draw for the group stages of the JC Barry Goldstein Cup was made, but it’s clear they must take it one game at a time or else their hopes of automatic promotion will be put to bed for another season.
L’Orange have had an excellent season up to now, but sometimes the hardest part is crossing the line. Having been in the top three all season, it’s important they continue to give their all in every game, with fans hoping for more magic from the likes of Ben Hart and Katz in their bid to break back into the top three.
One of their most pleasing victories came against Fortune in October when Joe Newton and a double from Hart clinched a 3-1 win.
Fortune struggled on Raiders’ 3G surface and player-manager Terry Jeffries will be relishing another bite of the cherry on grass.
Indeed no team has completed a league double over Fortune this season and Jeffries and co will want to keep that record intact.
They’ve only lost once at home in the league this season and will try to pull out all the stop to put another dent in Raiders’ promotion dreams.
But Shorts’ troops have been good on the road and if they play to their strengths and minimise the numbers of free-kicks against in their own half, I can see them squeezing home.
Venue – Gosling Sports Park, Ref – S. Feiger
JC star man: Joe Newton (Raiders)
DC Prediction: Temple Fortune B 1 NL Raiders C 2