JC MSFL DIVISION FOUR
Brady Maccabi B 1 SPEC FC 2
The SPEC clan gave the Brady bunch a clear reminder that they were still in the title race, scoring a dramatic winner in the last minute to record a famous victory over their fierce rivals.
Player-manager Josh Dagul had put Brady ahead early on, getting his head on an in-swinging free-kick to give the home side an early lead.
Dagul seemed to be enjoying his morning too as he almost doubled their lead only for a goalbound shot to be cleared off the line by SPEC club secretary (SPECretary), Ricky Lawrence.
In an action-packed first half, there was still time for the impressive Michael Rhodes to athletically deny Brady again - clawing out a close range shot majestically with one hand.
The Bananas seemed to grow in confidence as the half wore on, and only the frame of the goal kept out a speculative Burns 40-yard quick free-kick. Cheeky.
SPEC continued to win a spate of free-kicks from a mixture of surging Lawrence and mazy Hecht runs and carved out a number of half chances as the visitors fought valiantly for a way back into the game.
As the ref whistled to signify the end of the first half, Brady were 1-0 up but knew they had a fight on their hands to keep it that way.
More toing and froing throwing from the heavyweights ensued as the second half commenced, and Brady could have had the game dead and buried when SPEC captain Burns conceded a penalty with a rash sliding challenge. However, Brady gifted SPEC a reprieve when twinkle toes James Joseph blazed his spot kick high, wide and handsome.
With SPEC spurred on by the miss, they pushed forward for an equaliser and didn't have to wait long before last week's supersub Dan Pike again showed his quality with a goal of the millennia contender. After charging down two successive Brady clearances on the half way line, Pike took a couple of touches in front of him before unleashing a ferocious 35-yard curler into the top left corner. Spectators would be forgiven for thinking the frontman gave a rare smile after his wonder goal, but he has been quick to deny such accusations claiming it was merely a sudden gust of wind which had distorted his facial muscles.
At 1-1, both teams went in search of the winner. Brady were again denied by the Bananas' keeper Rhodes, who came off his line and made himself big to deny them scoring a great one-on-one opportunity.
Not long after, the Reds were denied what they thought was another stone-wall penalty after an uncharacteristic lunge from the otherwise impeccable Nick Wallis.
Meanwhile Berlin, Bookatz, Freedman, Hecht and Rosenthal continued to produce more tackles than a successful fishing equipment manufacturer as the Bananas thwarted any further hopes of a Brady winner.
With the draw simply not good enough for a title chasing, SPEC team they threw bodies forward in a last ditch attempt to grab the winner. And cometh of the hour, cometh the man. Craig Cohen fed Ricky Lawrence who kept his balance after being clipped in the box to drive an angled shot ball beyond the Brady keeper. Cue pandemonium. The goal was wildly celebrated by a 15-man bundle from the SPEC players, subs and fans alike.
Brady tried to restart the game with only two SPEC players on the pitch but after parity was briefly restored, SPEC, with the leanest defensive record in the league, held strong to secure the clubs most important victory since their re-establishment. The secretary will definitely be filing that in his memory cabinet this week.
SPEC manager Laurence Conway said: "I am delighted. I think it was a great advert for Jewish football, with two quality sides trying to play football on a tough pitch.
"Credit to my boys though, we rode our luck earlier on, what with going 1-0 down and then their missed penalty, but once we equalised, there was only going to be one winner, and in the last 10 minutes we were the hungrier and deservedly got our reward.
"However, Brady are still firmly in the driving seat in this title race, due to their games in hand. So all the pressure is firmly on them still, it is theirs to lose.
"We will be ready to go again next Sunday, in another tough game against Bilbaum, and that is all we are concentrating on now."
A disappointed Dagul told JC Sport: "We took the lead and had our chances but SPEC wanted it more on the day and got the winner with almost the last kick of the game.
(Report written by James Lesner)