Players from the JC MSFL are ready to lock horns once more following last week's blanket postponement. Matchday 23 features some intriguing clashes in the league as well as the opening round of group matches in the Barry Goldstein Cup. Danny Caro looks ahead to all the action.
Reminder: The first EMFT trial is being held at Rowley Lane this Sunday, from 6-7.30pm. Anyone interested should email: email@example.com.
PETER MORRISON TROPHY QUARTER-FINAL DRAW
South Manchester Sports 1st vs Manchester Maccabi 1st
Chigwell Athletic vs Oakwood
Rebridge Jewish Care A vs Hyde Park Rovers
Brady Maccabi A vs North West Neasden A
Ties to be played on February 19
JC CYRIL ANEKSTEIN CUP SEMI-FINAL DRAW
Brady Maccabi A vs Brixton Old Boys A (March 14)
Hendon United Sports Club A vs North London Raiders A (February 26)
YOUR WEEKEND PREVIEW STARTS HERE:
FAITHFOLD A vs BRADY MACCABI A
Title-chasing Faithfold should expect no favours when they take on a Brady team in need of points.
Dan Perkins was the matchwinner when the teams met earlier in the season
The Superhoops had the better of the chances with top-scorer Mike Pearson striking the woodwork.
Faithfold manager Zuriel Solomon told JC Sport: "We played a strong youthful Brady team who came to battle.
"We had to work hard in the heat but were disciplined and kept patient and got our rewards didn't have our shooting boots on this week but had our defensive hats on.
"I was impressed with Brady and like the team Josh has put together but felt we deserved our win today."
Brady are a much-changed team these days with Paul Hakim and TJ Keterman leading the line. They are also strong in midfield with Zak Presky, Lee Platt, Josh Gordon and Josh Hershman looking to get the better of a Faithfold engine room featuring talisman Alex Levack.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Brady boss Josh Rosenfeld told JC Sport: "We are expecting a very tough challenge from Faithfold. They are a quality outfit with class all over the pitch.
"We are missing Paul Hakim, Jon Ellis, TJ Keterman and Jordan Grant, but we will definitely go out there to win the game and make it tough for them."
Having drawn their last two, Faithfold know that three points essential and I can see them doing just enough on the day.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – W. Blake
JC star man: Rocky Spitzer (Faithfold)
DC Prediction: Faithfold A 2 Brady A 1
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A vs NORTH LONDON RAIDERS B
Leaders Hendon will be looking to strengthen their grip on proceedings when they welcome Raiders B to their Arkley home.
David Garbacz’s troops look a good bet to win the double and they will be looking to edge three points closer to the title on Sunday.
Avidan Last (2) and Yishai Last were the goal men for the Hammers in the corresponding fixture, which Hendon won 3-1. At times they were "unplayable," according to Garbacz but with conditions expected to be tricky under foot, I'm sure he'll be looking for a result rather than a performance here.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Garbacz told JC Sport: "As our team news suggests we will not be crying into our Sunday morning cornflakes should the weather cause the game to be postponed.
"Although we are getting a bit of a fixture pile-up at the moment, we are very short for Sunday with key players unavailable.
"Saying that our squad is still strong enough this year to cope with absentees and we would still be confident with the players we have available.
"Raiders B gave us a tremendous game when we met them earlier in the season and in all honesty we were probably a bit fortunate to hang on.
"They are a young fit talented team who are more than capable of beating anyone on their day. We will be well aware of their threat but hopefully our greater experience will see us through.
"If this game goes ahead it will be close and tight and could well hinge on a moment of individual brilliance."
Sunday's match is likely to feature an intriguing family head-to-head in midfield, with in-form Raiders star Gilad Kestenbaum coming up against younger brother Yoav. And there’s a strong possibility we could see an even more family members in the VIP box at Hadley FC.
Raiders boss Rob Richman will need no reminding how 10 minutes of madness left his team facing mission impossible. There was no way back after Hendon flew out of the traps, so he will ask the likes of Dan Grossman and Rick Sherman to stand firm early doors.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Richman told JC Sport: "Hendon have had a wonderful season to date and having only lost one game all season, they sit quite deservedly at the top of the table.
"We gave Hendon a very good game early on in the season where we were very disappointed that we didn’t get anything from the game. Unfortunately a sloppy opening 10 minutes cost us and as hard as we tried we just couldn’t turn our possession and dominance in the game into goals."
For me, the key battle will see Raiders speedster Mike Hershman come up against Greg Corin. Hershman loves bombing forward but he will be given extra responsibility to ensure that right-back Alex Bloch doesn’t get isolated.
For me, this will come down to who wins the midfield exchanges and I think Hendon’s big-hitters will come out on top.
JC team news: Hendon have a very stretched squad at the moment so if a new freeze creeps in over the weekend gaffer Garbacz "won't be complaining at all". On Sunday they will be without Paul Bentley, who is injured, and all the Kons - Danny Ben and Rafi are unavailable as well as Josh Lipman. In addition to that, Ari Last and Josh Bentley are still nowhere near match fit after recent injuries.
For Raiders, Nicky Woolf and James Foley-Comer are absent.
Venue – Hadley FC, Ref – R. Benardout
JC star man: Greg Corin (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Hendon Utd SC A 2 NL Raiders B 0
NORTH LONDON RAIDERS A vs FC TEAM A
Defeat isn’t an option for the Raiders on Sunday. With just five games remaining, everyone in the squad knows that they must pull out all the stops to take three points from FC Team.
With matches against Lions A, home and away, Hendon and Brady to follow, the Cyril Anekstein Cup semi-finalists know exactly what is at stake.
A Raiders spokesman told JC Sport: “We were all disappointed to see the snow come down last week and force the postponement against Brady.
“Now we’re focusing on the challenge of FC Team, another good team with dangerous individuals. Mitch has put together a top group of players and they have held their own against most teams, scoring many goals along the way. We will show them the respect they deserve.”
Team will be looking to register their fourth league win of the season – their first in the top-flight. Shai Davidi has joined striker Richard Salmon in earning rave reviews in recent weeks, and they will be looking to cash in against a Raiders defence that has conceded 41 times in 13 games.
Salmon and Dan Cohen were the goal men for FC Team in the corresponding fixture – a match they bossed for 75 minutes.
Looking ahead to Sunday, FC Team boss Mitch Young told JC Sport: “We are looking forward to the game, hopefully it goes ahead. We know Raiders will be a very tough test having a lot of their main players back, and potentially Matt Stock, if we are not on top of our game we will be punished.
“We will do our best to nullify their attacking threats and hope to get something from the game.
“Raiders must win so the pressure is on them. We just have to make sure we defend and defend well but without certain key players it will be difficult."
Victory for Raiders would take them to within a point of Sunday’s opponents, who have a game in hand. To do this, they will need to execute the perfect game-plan a adopt a low-risk strategy when defending.
Sunday is a day for cool heads and big hearts. Ultimately, it will boil down to which team wants it most.
JC team news: Raiders are missing Igal Yahya and Oli Henry. Joe Tankel and Andrew McMaster have been ruled out for the rest of the season, while rumour has it that Anthony Shaw has fallen out of love with football.
FC Team are missing the injured Gideon Moss, Dave Ossack, Jules Noti, Richard Salmon and Danny Moss. Tom Miller comes in from Montana to the squad.
Venue – Brunel Uni, Ref – A. Myerson
JC star man: Jamie Wolfson (Raiders)
DC Prediction: NL Raiders A 2 FC Team A 1
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE A vs LONDON MACCABI LIONS A
Redbridge still have 30 points to play for in the league this season. That is what manager Eilon Kennet will be telling his troops ahead of Sunday's meeting with Lions.
I'm expecting a strong run from last season’s double champions in the second half of the season and with Daran Bern available again, they hope to hit the ground running on Sunday.
The RJC boys have three games in hand on the Lions and Kennet will be looking to close the gap against his former club.
Indeed it could be a big couple of weeks for RJC with the Morrison tie at home to MJSL outfit Hyde Park Rovers the following week.
With Adam Hakimi also returning, they look an irresistible force once more and Sunday promises to be a real test of the credentials of the new-look Lions.
Venue – Fairlop, Ref – D. Lazarus
JC star man: Ben Sollosi (RJC)
DC Prediction: Redbridge JC A 2 LM Lions A 0
OAKWOOD vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE B
Oakwood are almost within touching distance of Premier Division football next season.
While their top of the table rivals were all hard hit by the withdrawal of Montana, the Oaks are happy as Larry.
Three more wins should guarantee them the title but knowing them as I do, they will want to do it in style and go up as champions.
Ric Blank and Alex Schock hope that the dreaded JC Manager of the Month curse doesn’t strike when they welcome crest-fallen Redbridge to Garston.
It’s been celebration time all round in the Oakwood camp with Adam Levine winning my Division One Player of the Month and Jason Lindsay bagging the best signing accolade.
Blank says he has given the team a “new dimension” and is hoping for a big couple of months from his ginger gem.
Josh Rose and Jason Lindsay were the heroes at Fairlop last month as the Oaks came away with an impressive 2-0 victory.
The hosts go into the game bang in form with six consecutive league wins to their name. Things have never been better for the Peter Morrison Trophy quarter-finalists.
Blank told JC Sport: "We're really looking forward to the game on Sunday. Every game at the moment is a massive game for the club and the whole squad is excited when Sunday comes around.
"We're at our best in big games and are looking forward to pitting our wits against a great Redbridge side once more.
"We played well at Fairlop in January and we know we can't let our level drop at Parmiters.
"We are in great form and were gutted that last Sunday against Southgate was off. The boys are raring to go and desperate to play - it's a great frame of mind to be in.
"Redbridge have signed a couple of players since we last played them so we know to expect an even tougher challenge on Sunday. But we believe in ourselves and welcome the challenge as ever.
"We've got a big squad to choose from and picking the team at the moment is a nightmare - long may it continue. Up the Oaks."
Redbridge have not won a game since December 11. Rumour has it that club secretary Richard Bronzite has attempted to bring in faith healer Eilen Drewery as the team’s confidence is rock bottom.
But I fear that not even Glenn Hoddle's right-hand woman will be enough to stop the Oakwood dream team.
JC team news: Redbridge are expected to be without top-scorers Dan Orgel and Mark Zealander.
Venue – Parmiters, Ref – M. Lavender
JC star man: Jason Lindsay (Oakwood)
DC Prediction: Oakwood 3 Redbridge JC B 1
TEMPLE FORTUNE A vs BRIXTON OLD BOYS A
Sunday will be an emotional day for Brixton manager John Nitka. He has fond memories of his time at Temple Fortune and I’m sure he’ll receive a warm reception from the home fans.
But once that first whistle blows, he can expect no favours from a Fortune team who find themselves in trouble after Montana left the league.
Victory for Brixton would see them leapfrog Fortune and that will be order of the day as they look to capitalise on games in hand and mount a late push for promotion.
Fortune assistant-manager Jack Morris told JC Sport: "We're raring to go again after a week off. I was away for the Brady cup match, but all accounts we were quite unlucky against them Premier Division team, so we aim to take that level of performance into Sunday and get a decent result.
"Things haven't gone our way recently with Montana folding, but we have told all our players to forget that and go out there and win football matches if we want to survive in this league.”
Brixton ran out worthy winners when the teams met back in December. Ed Weisz, Rob Hershkorn and Jamie Kent were the scorers that day although Nitka showed just what a hard task-master he insisting the it "should have been eight or more".
Looking ahead to Sunday, Nitka told JC Sport: "Firstly, I do not like the idea of playing on a G3 surface – I use this for practice, football should be played on grass and nothing else.
"Anyhow, after having a week off we will have to improve since our last game which was disastrous. Once again I have players missing, but will give it our best with the team I have available however, anything can happen playing on carpet!"
The points loss would've hit Fortune hard. They thought they had done enough but will need to show their quality and character over the coming weeks. They are in good shape right now and a draw with Chigwell and victory against Redbridge leads me to believe they will give a star-studded Brixton team a run for their money.
JC team news: Fortune are missing two key players Paul Walker suspended and Benji Mannheim away.
Venue – The Hive, Ref – C. Stupack
JC star man: Ed Weisz (Brixton)
DC Prediction: Temple Fortune A 1 Brixton OB A 2
WOODFORD WANDERERS vs CHIGWELL ATHLETIC
“It’s win or bust on Sunday.” Those are the words of Chigwell boss Richard Slater ahead of the derby against the Wanderers of Woodford.
Like a couple of their rivals, the Chigs are still reeling from the recent points loss, but it’s Slater’s job to lift chins off the ground to ensure they finish the season strongly.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Slater told JC Sport: “Due to the Montana fiasco, it's win or bust on Sunday, so we must carry on our good run of form.
“We've never played Woodford before, so it’s always nice to come up against a lot of our old B and C team players.
“They've fighting for survival down there and we know we're in for a very tough derby game.”
It’s hard to believe the teams have yet to meet and I expect fans to be treated to a right royal battle on Sunday.
Woodford have come into form at just the right time with recent wins over Brixton, Neasden and leaders Oakwood meaning Chigwell cannot underestimate them.
Alex Aviram’s men are odds-on finishing above Harmen B and Temple Fortune A are well within their sights.
It’s never easy calling a winner in a derby but I think Chigwell’s extra experience will see them through.
Venue – Redbridge Sports Centre, Ref – A. Lewis
JC star man: Lee Hyams (Chigwell)
DC Prediction: Woodford Wanderers 1 Chigwell Athletic 2
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE C
Motty Korman, the joint-manager of Hendon B, is predicting a tough encounter against Redbridge C on Sunday.
Word has reached me that Korman is a closet Michael Fish fan and he was recently spotted at the library swotting up on his weather forecasting skills.
I’m more of an Ian McCaskill follower myself, but I managed to catch up with Korman for an insight into exactly what he’s thinking for Sunday.
Korman told JC Sport: “The weather for Saturday and Sunday is not looking good, with BBC weather saying it will be -8 at West Hendon the night before another big game for Hendon B.
“Our title challenge is still on and the boys were gutted that last week’s top-of-the-table clash against Camden was called off, especially as we had a full squad.
“We have a tough game in store this weekend against Redbridge and know that we have no easy games left until the end of the season. But if we continue our good form then we heve a chance.”
Although RJC have fitness doubts over strikers Doron Weinstein and Dan Gordon, Korman is leaving no stone unturned in his bid for three points.
He went on to say: “Ari Nevies and Parys Hammonds will have to be alert to keep out the league’s top-scorer and we hope that if the game goes ahead, we will be on top of our game and take our chances to come away with three points.“
I think it was Daniel Fox, the former manager of Neasden A, who famously talked about the long, cold, dark trek to Fairlop. Well the boot is on the other foot on Sunday as Dan Gordon prepares his squad for the trip to West Hendon.
Gordon can be excused for thinking that Hendon are trying to gain a psychological advantage by turning off the heating in the West Hendon changing rooms. From memory, the heating never works, neither do the lights, hot water – if you’re lucky and as for bog roll, you must be joking!
The Redbridge boys have little more than pride left to play for this season. Gordon was left bitterly disappointed that they did not make the cut for the Barry Goldstein Cup. But the bottom line is they still have nine points to play for and must aim to finish as high up the table as possible.
But when push comes to shove, I can only see one winner on Sunday.
JC team news: Hendon are without Alex Neiss (away), while Alon Blitz and Chanania Engelsman are out injured.
RA Noe is to attend an internal club meeting to determine if he is eligible for Sundays game due to another poor excuse for missing training.
Venue – West Hendon, Ref – L. Benson
JC star man: Parys Hammonds (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Hendon Utd SC B 3 Redbridge JC C 1
NORSTAR B vs CAMDEN PARK
"Nothing less than another three points on Sunday will do." That is the view of Camden’s Nick Kagan ahead of the trip to Wembley.
The team are in ship-shape right now with the added bonus of Dan Baneth winning my Division Two Player of the Month award. He’ll looks set to continue his hot streak.
By the sound of things, the Camden boys can’t wait for kick-off on Sunday.
Looking ahead to kick-off, Kagan told JC Sport: "We're looking forward to playing on Norstar's 3G as it suits our tika-taka tactics, but we know it will be a battle, Norstar are a big physical side.
"The weather spared Hendon last week, but the pressure remains all on them. We've got more points in the bag and the emphasis is really on them to keep winning, especially as they face the toughest run-in of any of the promotion chasers.
"Six games against all the top sides - including teams they struggled against earlier in the season, such as Lions and Faithfold B who have only got stronger as the season wears on. We're backing Redbridge to give them a serious game this weekend."
Norstar boss Jonny Bunt is showing no sign of strain. He was in typically jovial mood in his midweek press conference. Bunt told JC Sport: "We have a few absentees this week and my main hope is that they have more!
"It's going to be a tough match but fortunately after this one our last five games are against bottom five teams."
Camden start as strong favourites and I can’t see Norstar stopping them.
JC team news: Camden skipper Max Saunders is unavailable, as is Daniel Needleman, but they still have 16 players to choose from. Kagan added: "Competition for places is as fierce as it has been all season."
Venue – Ark Academy, Ref – J. Feenstra
JC star man: Dan Baneth (Camden)
DC Prediction: Norstar B 1 Camden Park 3
LONDON MACCABI LIONS B vs FAITHFOLD C
Revenge is the name of the game for the Lions on Sunday as Jamie Kyte’s men welcome the Superhoops at the Lane.
Having given a good account of themselves last time out, home fans will arrive in confident mood going into what looks like a home banker.
Kyte will be targeting a top five finish and consistency is the name of the game in the last few months of the season.
Mid-table obscurity is not what he had in mind at the start of the season, but that is something Faithfold boss David Garson would love right now.
Having conceded 11 goals in their last two games, they must look to get back to basics and Garson could do worse than consult QPR boss Mark Hughes in a crash-course on survival.
The recent win over high-flying Hendon B papered over the cracks as they have taken two steps back and must start approaching each Sunday morning like a cup final.
The bottom line is Faithfold haven’t won away in the league all season and I can’t see their luck changing on Sunday.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – S. Ansher
JC star man: Will Beresford (Lions)
DC Prediction: LM Lions B 4 Faithfold C 2
BRADY MACCABI B vs FC TEAM C
Favourites Brady B have the chance to move a step closer to the title when they welcome mid-table FC Team C to Rowley Lane.
Josh Dagul’s men go into the match lying in third place, but crucially, with games in hand on the teams above them.
Dagul and co will be looking to register their 11th league win of the season. Dagul will be looking for a big reaction from his troops following the 2-1 defeat against SPEC FC last time out.
But he should expect no favours from an FC Team that has taken points off some of the top teams.
Man for man, Brady have the edge, but with conditions expected to be tricky under foot, this could prove to something of a leveller.
If Brady remain patient and keep their focus, I think they’ll have too much on the day.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – M. Fox
JC star man: James Joseph (Brady)
DC Prediction: Brady Maccabi B 2 FC Team C 1
JC BARRY GOLDSTEIN CUP
NORTH LONDON RAIDERS C vs FC TEAM B
There’s a full programme in Group A which means that victory for Raiders C and FC Team B is vital on Sunday.
For me, Shirley Park are favourites to win the group and I’d put SPEC FC right up there to quality too. I know FC Team B are the top-ranked team in the group, but league form doesn’t lie and it’s clear they’ll have to pull up their socks to progress.
Ben Simon’s troops have managed just four league victories out of 15. Granted they have some useful players but they’re conceding at an average of more than three goals a game and that will be music to the ears of the Raiders camp.
L’Oranges promotion hopes are hanging by a thread but the Goldstein competition gives manager Oli Shorts the opportunity to show the rest of the league what a talented group he has at his disposal.
They have really stepped things up this season, with Ben Hart doing the business in front of goal regularly.
Shorts and right-hand man Rich Abrahams will be looking to the likes of Sam Morrell, Joe Newton and Michael Israel to venture further forward to take some of the goal-scoring burden off the shoulders of Hart.
A high-scoring contest is on the cards and with home advantage, I’m tipping Raiders to make a flying start.
Venue – Hatfield Uni, Ref – N. Bloom
JC star man: Rob Vickers (Raiders)
DC Prediction: NL Raiders C 3 FC Team B 2
SHIRLEY PARK vs SPEC FC
There’s a mouth-watering affair in store in Tufnell Park as Division Three promotion hopefuls take on high-flying SPEC FC of Division Four.
This game sold out several weeks ago but I’ve had a word with the Shirley board and if you mention my name, they’ll guarantee you a good seat on the nearby park benches.
For Shirley, it will be a return to the ground where they exited the Morrison. Gideon Gold was their scorer in the 2-1 defeat against Hyde Park Rovers. Manager Dave Lusman has been thinking about little else since.
On Sunday they welcome an ambitious SPEC FC team that is clearly going places.
Laurence Conway is hoping that come April he will be taking his squad to get their suits measured ala Gazza.
Looking ahead to Sunday, SPEC FC’s Ricky Lawrence told JC Sport: “We'll be taking the competition very seriously though we feel we’re definitely in the Group of Death.
Recent weeks have proven that we can beat some great teams though and will be going into the game confident of picking up a big three points.
“Laurence may have a difficult time keeping our minds on the game though and not on the Chinese 'all you can eat that' we'll be attending in the evening.
“Captain Ashley Burns may find it particularly difficult to concentrate as everyone knows just how fond of a chicken satay he is.”
I can see this being an open and entertaining affair between two of the top teams in the lower divisions.
As long as the undersoil heating works at Gladstone Park, it should be a cracker.
Venue – Gladstone Park, Ref – N. Cooper
JC star man: Stefan Benfreji (Shirley Park)
DC Prediction: Shirley Park 2 SPEC FC 2
ATHLETICO FINCHLEY vs GLENTHORNE UNITED B
Glenthorne are looking to make amends for disappointments in the Morrison and Anekstein when they make the long journey to Athletico on Sunday.
Already promoted from Division Three, the Thornes, co-managed by Sam Rosenthal and Craig Sandford, are one of the fancied teams in the competition.
With Sandford scoring for fun and keeper Jordan Davidson in the form of his life, they will arrive confident of getting off on the right foot.
“Everyone at Glenthorne is looking forward to the start of the Barry Goldstein Cup campaign, “Sandford told JC Sport.
“We are hoping for a good cup run as our CA and Morrison journey ended prematurely.
“We are under pressure from our fans to give them a day out at Wingate and we will bust a gut to get there.”
Sandford admits that his troops won’t be taking Athletico lightly. “You can never under-estimate a team in Division Four,” he continued. “Athletico Finchley are a new team and I’m sure they will want to cause an upset.
“Anything can happen in a cup game but the Barry Goldstein cup now becomes a priority and hopefully we will have too much for them.
“Having missed the last few weeks due to bad weather, everyone is looking forward to playing again and I’m sure my players will express themselves in the way they know how.”
Zach Margolin, the Athletico chief, knows his troops have it all to do. They couldn’t have asked for a tougher start.
He told JC Sport: “This Sunday is our toughest fixture yet. Glenthorne are a great team who are unbeaten in the league above us, so it is understandable that most people will write us off.
“However, we have done well at home recently, especially against teams that under-estimate us. Let’s hope the cup can bring us some magic!”
I can see Athletico huffing and puffing and giving a good account of themselves for the first hour, but in the end I expect Glenthorne’s superior quality to shine through.
JC team news: Athletico are without Joel Barnett, Charlie Hollis and Daniel Mattey, who are all away, plus the injured Andrew Greenwall-Cohen.
Glenthorne have a full squad apart from striker Fabio Rivieccio who has a knee injury.
Venue – Ark Academy, Ref – Q. Fox
JC star man: Daniel Lassman (Glenthorne)
DC Prediction: Athletico Finchley 1 Glenthorne United B 3
LOS BLANCOS vs UJIA
What’s that noise? It’s opportunity knocking for both Los Blancos and UJIA, I tell you.
Both teams have the quality to get out of the group and they will be looking to make a winning start at the Lodge on Sunday.
UJIA will be looking to go one better after losing in the final to Faithfold C last May and manager Darren Rolfe is confident his troops can do the business.
“We have a strong 13-man ready to pick up our first three points in the BG Cup,” he told JC Sport.
“We are aware of what a great day it was last season even though we came second.
“We have had two good games this year over Los Blancos and taken four points so we will be aware of their capabilities.”
A psychological edge could count for nothing unless the U’s approach this game with the right attitude.
Los Blancos claimed a famous scalp in the Anekstein last season and manager Joel Minsky will be looking to put a smile back on the faces of the Blancos faithful.
The club’s account were revealed this week and they reflected huge profits, predominantly from the sale of striker Danny Kon as well as the 2011 cup run.
Several players in the Blancos camp are nearing the end of their contracts so they will be keen to put on a good show as they look to take the first step to Wingate.
I don’t expect too much football to be played on what will be a bumpy, rock hard surface at the Lodge. In the end, it could all boil down to which team acclimatises to the conditions better.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – N. Cohen
JC star man: Josh Cohen (Blancos)
DC Prediction: Los Blancos 3 UJIA 2
JEWVENTUS vs FAITHFOLD B
On paper, Faithfold B are the favourites to win the Barry Goldstein Cup, given that they are the highest-ranked team.
Manager Rob Shooman knows that everyone will be out to beat them with the Superhoops lying second in Division Two.
Faithfold go into the game bang in form. They’ve kept two clean sheets in the last three games and four overall this season.
The boys in green and white have responded well since losing striker Daniel Hildebrand and Richard Winton and Dan Stock have found their shooting boots at just the right time.
Jewventus boss Gabriel John is predicting “a tough game against a good Faithfold team.”
His team have blown hot and cold this season but it’s important they are overawed by the occasion.
I believe that if they turn up with clear heads and their top players available, they can give Faithfold a match.
Looking ahead to Sunday, John told JC Sport: "All my Jewve superstars are available and I really hope to give them a good game."
Faithfold haven’t sent scouts to watch Jewve since the draw was made but they will be familiar with the likes of Mike Gill and Ami Wynbourne. But the surprise element posed by Nigel Someck and James Alexander might help Jewve up the ante.
I’ll finish by dangling a carrot John’s way. If Jewve wins, the JC Manager of the Week title is up for grabs. It’s been a while since he won it and I know nothing would mean more to him.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – T. McEvoy
JC star man: James Alexander (Jewventus)
DC Prediction: Jewventus 2 Faithfold B 2
TEMPLE FORTUNE B vs CATFORD & BROMLEY MACCABI
Fortune enjoyed an impressive run in the Goldstein Cup last season and player-manager Terry Jeffries will be looking for more of the same on Sunday.
The Fortune gaffer knows the importance of getting off to a winning start and he will be looking for an extra effort from his men in front of their fans.
Jeffries told JC Sport: “We have a few injuries, but hopefully we will be back to a full strength team the following week.
“We will are hoping to go that extra step this year and get to the final.”
The Goldstein Cup competition comes as a welcome distraction for the Cats who are really struggling in the league. They are fighting for survival in Division Three but for the next 90 minutes, they should look to get their frustrations out and get back to enjoying their football.
It’s been a tough season for everyone involved but joint-manager Adam Lewis has been doing his best to keep chins off the floor.
Looking ahead to Sunday, he told JC Sport: “We’ve been severely disappointing in recent weeks, limping to two 1-0 defeats before losing farcically in our last game.
“We've had time to take stock and will be looking to come out more solid, harder, tougher and more combative through to the end of the season.
“We played Temple Fortune B last season and they beat us in a well-fought game. I’m not sure if Marc Herman is still going, but if he still hasn't hung up his boots we'll be looking to stick Ryan Kangisser out on stilts to mark him!”
The Cats know all about the aerial threat of a Fortune team who have experience on their side.
They will look to limit the number of set-pieces conceded in their own half and try to get the ball down and run at the Fortune defence.
Once again, this is a tough one to call and it could boil down to which team holds its nerve in front of goal.
Venue – Gosling Sports Park, Ref – A. Djanogly
JC star man: Joel Isaacs (Catford)
DC Prediction: Temple Fortune B 1 Catford & Bromley Maccabi 1
BLIZZARD STORM vs NORTH WEST NEASDEN C
It’s been a week of celebration in the Neasden camp after star man Adam Levene, aka the Doc, became a father for the first time.
Some weeks Levene carries his teammates, but he’s only been schlepping nachas since the arrival of a new baby boy. And it’s mazal tov all round to the Levene family from everyone at the JC.
Attention now turns to Sunday’s trip to Wembley and I managed to catch up with NWN player-manager Louis Taylor in the build up to the game.
Taylor told JC Sport: We have a strong squad . If the weather holds out, it should hopefully be a more exciting game than the 0-0 draw last time around.”
Blizzard fans will feel they have momentum on their side. Simon Linden’s men have put a good run of results together and there was little to separate the teams in a goalless draw last month.
Looking ahead to Sunday, Linden told JC Sport; “It’s a big game. Plenty of respect goes to JLGB and Bilbaum, but the winner of this match against Neasden surely has a superb chance to get through the group and do very well.
“The Minor Cup is very important to everyone involved at Blizzard Storm, from the tea lady, to the groundsman, Mark Rubin and Stuart Muller. Everyone wants a Wingate final and pay day...”
Blizzard have been solid at home, but Neasden have proved to be dangerous customers on their travels so both sets of fans can look forward to what should be an open and entertaining affair.
Venue – Ark Academy, Ref – N. Burns
JC star man: Stefan Simons (Blizzard)
DC Prediction: Blizzard Storm 2 NW Neasden C 1
TEAM JLGB vs ATHLETIC BILBAUM
JLGB are still riding on the crest of a wave, more of a frozen wave these days, after the win over Neasden C last time out.
The season starts now for manager Rob Silverman and co I expect them to go into the game against Bilbaum all guns blazing.
With the Division Three wooden spoon confirmed, attention now turns to the Minor Cup against a powerful Bilbaum team.
The Baums have been the real deal this season. People expect them to keep slipping up or even choke, but they have proved time and again they have the stomach for a battle and fear no-one.
This siege mentality has served them well throughout the season and they’ve been the model of consistency so credit to Mark Pasha, Edward Green and all the boys. Not forgetting, of course, Baum Baum the mascot.
Green goes into the game on the back of receiving my Division Four Player of the Month award. His tussle with JLGB keeper Rob Levene will be the one to watch on Sunday.
With sub-zero temperatures forecast for Sunday, both sets of fans hope their heroes don’t freeze on the big stage.
Venue – Peter May, Ref – K. Gold
JC star man: Adam Beir (Bilbaum)
DC Prediction: Team JLGB 1 Athletic Bilbaum 3