Two goals from Ashley Loofe eased Manchester Maccabi 1st into the fourth round of the Manchester County Cup as they beat Staff of Life 4-1.
After two successive defeats by the odd goal, Maccabi visited Littleton Road bereft of any regular first team striker due to injuries, and met Staff of Life from the Eccles Second Division, a team they had only played once before two years ago.
As on that day, the scoreline was exactly the same this time round with Maccabi’s superior class finally overpowering their lower division opposition, but not in as smooth a fashion as manager Scott McGarvey would have liked. Because of the striker injury crisis, 40-year-old Michael Freedman was deployed to lead the line, with 17-year-old David Herman supporting him.
A sluggish start on a tight pitch saw Staff try to take the game to the visitors, but their lack of quality meant they could not breach keeper Dan Garman’s goal. Garman, who had been punished in the previous two weeks for slight errors, was in commanding form this week and his handling and distribution seemed to finally give Maccabi the assurance and impetus they needed to settle into their game.
They finally got the ball down and started passing and Rafi Leker in particular was the catalyst to Maccabi’s best moves. After half an hour and with Maccabi dominating the play, a David Chaytow corner created confusion in the opposition penalty area and a Staff player diverted the ball into his own net.
Five minutes later sharp passing from the back found Herman who beat the keeper well although at first it looked like the referee had disallowed the goal for offside. In the confusion the referee decided no-one in an offside position had interfered and the goal stood.
This should have been the catalyst for Maccabi to put the game to out of reach of the hosts but a weak clearance from Carl Peters landed at a Staff forwards’ feet in the Maccabi area and unchallenged he netted to reduce the deficit.
McGarvey made his feelings known at half time and Loofe, who was particularly subdued in the first half came out in the second and started to dominate the play. Pressing further up the field, he latched on to a loose ball outside the area and his drive found the bottom right corner of the goal.
His second came from gambling into driving into the box to get on the end of a low cross and tuck the ball away.
Although totally in the ascendancy Maccabi still missed numerous chances as their opponents started to tire, and this type of profligacy has and will cost them dear against better quality opposition, a point McGarvey was keen to make to the team after the game.
Maccabi move into the last 16 of this competition and will that tie will be played December 6 once the draw has been made. However their next challenge comes this November 22 as they find themselves pitted away against South Manchester in the first round of the Peter Morrison Cup at the Armitage Centre.
Maccabi: Garman, Buxton, Jacobs, Addis, Peters, Leker, Loofe, Chaytow, Davidson, Herman, Freedman
Subs: Simmons, Lavin