It’s the last round of action before the end of year break, so without further ado Danny Caro brings you his preview to Matchday 16 of the MGBSFL season.
YOUR WEEKEND PREVIEW STARTS HERE:
MGBSFL PREMIER DIVISION
10 - Mike Pearson (Faithfold A)
9 - Richard Salmon (FC Team A)
BRADY MACCABI A vs NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS A
Injuries have been a major factor behind Brady’s disappointing showing over the first half of the season, according to manager Joel Nathan, but he believes his team is confident of finishing 2013 in style and inflict table-toppers NLR to a first defeat of the season.
David Dinkin and Matt Stock fired NLR to a 2-1 victory over Brady in September but the Brady bunch will be all the more determined to stop the leaders in their tracks.
Ahead of the game, Joel Nathan told JC Sport: “We have to make a number of changes due to injuries and this has been a major factor into our disappointing season as we have never had a settled side, but we will go out there on Sunday and give our all against the league leaders.
“Phil and his team have been brilliant all season, but my squad this week will be ready for them and hopefully become the first team to beat them this season. We know they are very well-organised and have some exceptional players, but the boys know they owe it to themselves to perform on Sunday.”
NLR boss Phil Peters knows it’s important his team ends the year in style. Although have a nice cushion at the top, they will want to continue their proud unbeaten run as defeat would leave a bad taste in the mouth ahead of the party season.
Peters told JC Sport: “After a week off, we’re looking forward to our final game of the year and hope to sign-off with another victory.
“Brady gave us a tough test last time out and we know they'll make it difficult for us but if we play to our full potential there's no doubt in my mind we'll come away with three more points.
“We have a couple of injuries and some of the boys are away, but the our strength in depth will really help us out.”
As we saw against Faithfold, NLR have another side to their game. They have played some brilliant football at times, but are able to mix it with the big-hitters and they are dangerous on the counter-attack. A smash and grab victory would not surprise me.
JC team news: Brady continue to be without Matt Sofier, Ben Goldberg, Josh Gordon Jonathan Green and Rob Lerner to long-term injuries, while there are fitness concerns over Jordan Nathan.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – Keith Goodman
JC star man: Jonny Kay (NLR)
DC Prediction: Brady 0 NLR 1
CAMDEN PARK vs FAITHFOLD A
Josh Marks believes Camden fans are in for a real treat when defending champions Faithfold come to town in what promises to be a real winter warmer.
Having claimed back-to-back wins over FC Team A in league and cup, Camden have turned the corner and Marks told me they will be at full-strength for the visit of the Superhoops.
David Khalastchi was Camden’s star performer last weekend. He capped a brilliant performance with a stunning goal, and with brother Mike Khalastchi returning from injury, the future looks bright.
Looking ahead to the game, Marks told JC Sport: “We missed a couple of players on our away day win last week. Everyone is back now, fully fit and I am able to field the strongest team we’ve ever had on Sunday.
“It’s important as Faithfold are a very good side and you know what - we could’ve got a result last time we played them but we were undone by 2 fantastic strikes after having taken the lead.
“We feel very comfortable at home on our 3g pitch and I think we will provide a massive test for them after our last two wins. It would be great to go in to the break with one more win and most importantly we need the three points if we are going to make sure we stay up this season.
“It should be a very interesting affair. Send down the videoman!”
Faithfold’s form could be best described as stuttering right now. A 5-2 victory over SPEC FC in the cup came as a huge relief and manager Zuriel Solomon believes it’s only a matter of time until they start firing on all cylinders.
"Going into the last game of the year we really haven’t gelled as we would have liked," Solomon told JC Sport.
"Injuries and new signings have meant it has been difficult to get a consistent team out each week. Saying that, we haven’t been awful and have played some good stuff.
"Camden will be looking to get a win and we will respect them as they have some good players."
I think Sunday will come down to small details.
JC team news: Faithfold expect to have a full squad, apart from the injured Elliott Stern.
Venue – White City Tigers Turf, Ref – Richard Jaye
JC star man: Mike Khalastchi (Camden)
DC Prediction: Camden 2 Faithfold 2
LONDON MACCABI LIONS WHITE vs REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE A
Sam Rosenthal has done a terrific job since taking charge at Redbridge. They have been the model of consistency this season and are certainly keeping the title race interesting.
Starting the weekend nine points behind NLR, RJC fans will look at LML’s record and expect a comfortable win, but there will be some top-quality on show together with talented youth to welcome them.
The only way is up would be an appropriate tune in the LML dressing room before kick-off. Although this is a season of transition for key teams at the club, they still have some top-notch players at their disposal, and there’s a chance the boys will turn to men sooner or later.
The David Pollock revolution is still in its early stages, but it would be foolish to write them off altogether.
LML assistant-manager Johnathan Meltzer told JC Sport: “James Gershfield will be accompanied by the youngsters - James Belchak and Jess Alexander - in the middle of the park. The latter two are more than capable at shining at men’s level.
“We know this RJC team, though, is one of the teams of the season and their manager has created the best-spirited side in the division that looks like they have the ability to compete with anyone.”
I’m tipping RJC to take the points and win by the odd goal, but it’s vital their supporters remain patient.
Venue – Rowley Lane, Ref – Martin de la Fuente
JC star man: Steve Gevertz (RJC)
DC Prediction: LML 1 RJC 2
OAKWOOD A vs HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A
Hendon are one of three teams capable of winning the title, but their credentials will be on the line when they make the long journey to Brunel to take on an in-form Oakwood.
Victories over Camden, Lions and Brady have come at just the right time, and with Anthony Kintish in top form, they will be in confident mood of causing an upset.
Ahead of the game, Oaks joint-manager Ric Blank told JC Sport: “Quite the way to end the year with a game against Hendon. It’s been a good year all things being equal at Oakwood. We stayed in the Prem and despite a poor start to this season, we really feel we're on an upward curve.
“At times we look the real deal - we just have to cut out mistakes and rash moments of recklessness that have cost us ever since we got into the Prem. Despite having a big, strong squad my challenge is for the players to make themselves available more regularly. Too often we are having to make six or seven changes.
“Players should be desperate to play and making all kinds of sacrifices to do so. If we can get that right we will go far in 2014.
“Hendon are always a strong side, but we felt wronged last season in the corresponding fixture. We lost to a penalty and an offside goal, before Avi Last killed the game off. We have the same ref this Sunday as that day and hope we get the rub of the green that evaded us last time.
“Hendon tend to get some big decisions go there way, but we've picked up our game recently and want to end 2014 with our best performance yet. It's up to us to deliver on Sunday.”
A win is vital for Hendon who are still playing catch-up. It’s hard to believe they have only played six league games this term, but having bowed out of the non-Jewish cup, they can look forward to the challenges that lie ahead in the New Year, as they go in search of a second possible treble in three years.
But first things first – Oakwood. It’s clear gaffer David Garbacz has plenty of respect for Sunday’s opponents. He told JC Sport: “After a slow start to the season it appears that Oakwood are now clicking into gear so we are well aware that this is going to be a very tough game.
“We are also in the position that we pretty much have to win practically every game if we are to catch Norstar so the margin for error is non-existent .
“We also have one or two nursing injuries and the forthcoming break is coming at a good time for us to recharge our batteries for a big push next year . It would be a massive boost to go into that break with three vital points here and we will be going all out to get them.
“It will always be interesting to see how the midfield battle between old boy Josh Bentley and Ari Last pans out and that could be the key to success for either team. I hope that Ari will just shade it and together with Yoav Kestenbaum back to potentially cause havoc down the right, we are hopeful that we can get the right result .
“Overall I am very pleased with the form of the team this year . This could be the swansong for many in Hendon colours this season and there is a real determination to go out with a bang . We are unbeaten domestically and fancy our chances against any team in this league.
“Avi Korman and Rafi Kon have been our two outstanding performers so far this year and whenever Yoav Kestenbaum is available he has the ability to tear teams apart.
“I have massive hopes and expectations for 2014 and I assure you we will be there or thereabouts in all competitions.”
Oakwood are flying at home and the first 20 minutes will be crucial. It’s impossible to call a winner.
JC team news: . Oakwood are without captain Adam Levine for Sunday, but hope to have Dan Geey fit. Sam Jacobson will return also
Hendon will be missing Ari Nevies and Yishai Last who are both away , but Yoav Kestenbaum returns from uni.
Venue – Brunel, Ref – Warwick Blake
JC star man: Yoav Kestenbaum (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Oakwood 1 Hendon 1
14 - Harrison Midda (Woodford)
13 - Jamie Kent (Shirley Park)
12 - Jono Gaon (Blancos)
CHIGWELL ATHLETIC vs SHIRLEY PARK
Defeat isn’t an option for mid-table rivals Chigwell and Shirley who meet for the first time this season.
Consistency has proved a big problem for both sets of players, but one thing that looks certain on Sunday is goals.
Chigwell’s home form has been poor overall but manager Richard Slater hopes his players give the fans a performance to remember. They did well for 45 minutes against Hendon A in the cup last weekend, but then the floodgates opened.
Shirley’s defensive shortcomings have been there for all to see, but with Jamie Kent, Saul Conway, Gideon Gold and Stefan Benfredj always on the goal trail, they offer value for money.
So if you’re not going to Brent Cross with the missus, E17 should be your next port of call.
Venue – Peter May, Ref – Adam Lewis
JC star man: Stefan Benfredj
DC Prediction: Chigwell 3 Shirley 4
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB B vs BRIXTON OLD BOYS
There’s a relegation six-pointer of mammoth proportions in west Hendon this weekend.
Hendon went down to their seventh league defeat last weekend when Southgate Harmen proved too strong in a 4-1 victory. At the same time, Brixton were involved in a horror show against Neasden – going down 7-0 and having two men sent off.
But the Brixton boys are determined to look forward as they know just how important three points on Sunday could be come the end of the season.
Brixton’s Dave Ronson told JC Sport: “This will be a grudge match as Hendon beat them in the league first time around and feel that we hold a much stronger team that the league table shows.
“We made some poor decisions in the cup match against Hendon - with the sending off ultimately cost us the game. I will be looking for are team to play compact and counter-attacking football with the speed that we posses within the team.
“We will be boosted by having the return off big players and are raring to go for this one. I really want to end the year with a big bang!”
Clearly Ronson believes the NWN result was no more than a blip and like him, I expect them to bounce back in style on Sunday.
JC team news: Brixton welcome back Alon Hershkorn, David Smouha and Matt Perlman.
Venue – West Hendon, Ref – Andy Myerson
JC star man: David Smouha (Brixton)
DC Prediction: Hendon 2 Brixton 3
NORTH WEST NEASDEN vs BRADY MACCABI B
A competitive game looks on the cards as title rivals Neasden and Brady B go head-to-head.
NWN finished in seventh heaven against Brixton last weekend and manager Stirling Kay hopes to freshen up the squad ahead of this crucial fixture.
He told JC Sport: “Yes, this is a great game to finish the year, with Josh and David Newman playing it’s sure to be very compete rive.
“Once again we played some great football last week and the goals are coming from all over the team .We hope to give debuts to two new players depending on their registration fees being paid .
“With the exception of Josh Tiano and Scott Kay - who have been given time off to recharge there batteries - we hope to have a full squad to chose from.
“Win draw or lose we want to end the year carrying on playing some great football.”
Brady played out a 2-2 draw against Blancos last Sunday, with Josh Newman and that man Reiss Mogilner on target.
Their first meeting with Neasden should be an absolute cracker. It's definitely one to keep an eye on.
Venue – Hadley FC, Ref – Martin Lavender
JC star man: Kane Gilbery (NWN)
DC Prediction: Neasden 3 Brady 2
SOUTHGATE HARMEN vs LOS BLANCOS
Harmen must be on their game for the visit of a Blancos team who drew with high-flying Brady B last week.
Josh Caplin and Darren Russell inspired Blancos to a point against star-studded opponent which tells you how far they have come.
Having already beaten Shirley, Chigwell and Neasden, the scalp of Harmen is what manager Jonathan Ison really wants.
He told JC Sport: “We have quite a thin squad available this week, but we’re still looking to finish the year on a high. Hopefully Jono Gaon can recapture his goal-scoring form, and him and Adam Hersh can make the headlines yet again.
“I'm happy with how we have bounced-back from a poor start to the league season, and our cup run is certainly a positive. We're hoping for a mid-table finish come the end of the season and know that on our day we can beat any team in the league.”
Lee Greenfield was one of three star performers for Harmen in the 4-1 win over Hendon B. Keeper James Castle and midfield powerhouse Jordan Grant also caught the eye in a really strong team performance.
Greenfield has fond memories of the previous meeting with Blancos – he registered in a 3-1 win, with Alex Bowman scoring the goal of the game with a sensational chip.
I can’t see Harmen losing on Sunday and think they might even just do enough to complete an early season double.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – Laurie Benson
JC star man: Jordan Grant (Harmen)
DC Prediction: Harmen 2 Blancos 1
SPEC FC vs WOODFORD WANDERERS
Tony Charles and his merry men hope the dreaded JC Manager of the Week curse doesn’t strike when they head north to take on an out-of-sorts SPEC FC team on Sunday.
The Woodford boys were top of the shocks on Matchday 15, with the magical Mitch Hahn firing them to a 3-1 victory over LML Blue. Hahn and Harrison Midda have turned into one of the league’s most potent strikeforces this season, but in fairness, they have looked the part from 1-11 this season.
Having slipped off top spot, Woodford fans will have their terraces trannies in one ear – listening out for the Neasden/Brady score – but it’s vital the players continue to focus on the task at hand.
I asked Charles about the transformation at Woodford over the last few months and this is what he said. “It was a big change for the team having a new manager coming in. For some, it’s the first time they’ve been coached by a professional coach. I have been delighted with the response we have had so far, but we are only at half time.
“The only disappointment we have encountered is people’s attitudes towards us, playing in a predominantly north London league.Some clubs are treated as devils, some are treated as angels. I don’t think we are so ugly that we should be seen as the devil and I don’t think the north London teams are so beautiful that they should be viewed as angels.”
SPEC FC have been on a slippery slope since winning their first two games. Five consecutive defeats have left them in a perilous position and I can’t see them getting any joy against top-quality opposition on Sunday.
That said, SPEC FC’s Ricky Lawrence told me this week that they are not hitting the panic button just yet. “We face a very good Woodford side and with a depleted side it's going to be a tough game.
“It’s been a mixed year with promotion last season, but a very tough start to this campaign. Hopefully with players starting to return from injury in the new year we’ll be firing on all cylinders again.”
I think a 4-5-1 formation is the way forward for SPEC FC on Sunday. No doubt they will look to defend deep and try to hit Woodford on the counter, but in the end I think the visitors will have too much.
Venue – Brunel, Ref – Robert Caplin
JC star man: Joe Sumray (Woodford)
DC Prediction: SPEC FC 1 Woodford 4
17 - Ben Zloof (AC Mill Hill)
14 - Nicky Woolf (Raiders B)
12 - Dan Simmons (Blizzard)
AC MILL HILL vs FAITHFOLD B
A full-strength Mill Hill will be looking to complete a hat-trick of wins over Faithfold B when the teams lock horns at the weekend.
The hosts start the game in sixth position following the thrilling 3-2 win over Bilbaum – when Ben Zloof (2) and Nick Kershberg grabbed the goals.
Kershberg must surely be pushing for a starting berth after excelling as a ‘super-sub’ last week.
Mill Hill boss Joe Levy sounded in pretty positive mood when I spoke to him at the club’s midweek press conference. He told JC Sport: We will be at full-strength on Sunday and looking for our third victory over Faithfold this season.
“We need to focus on picking up points in the league and must make sure our incredible cup run does not interfere.
“After a slow start to the campaign I finally feel we are getting towards the level I expect of the team.
“We are starting to look more like a cohesive unit and the fitness is starting to show on the pitch and backed up by a few late winners. We hope to finish the year on a high and in the top half.”
Faithfold were undone by the brilliance of Nathan Sollosi last week and manager Rob Shooman knows they must defend for their lives against a team that rarely fails to score.
Ahead of kick-off, Faithfold assistant-manager Dan Yoss told JC Sport: "Eric Hovelsen is back for our relegation six-pointer against AC Mill Hill, as is Richard Jaffe. We've missed Eric over the past few games, in particular on Sunday where we just didn't turn up. Richard Jaffe has also been very solid for us and we're glad to have him back.
"We need a performance against Mill Hill. Of course I care about the result, but the worst thing is if we don't give it a go. I've got a lot of respect for them as a new team - Ben Grabiner is a great leader and Alex Olcot is a dangerous player - we'll have to keep him quiet. Joe's a great bloke although I won't be wishing him too much luck on Sunday.
"It's been a tough opening year as a new bunch but we're building into something special and we can still get better."
The bottom line is that Faithfold are in real trouble, despite a couple of strong performance and with FC Team B starting to pick up, three points are crucial here.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – Neil Cooper
JC star man: Nick Kershberg (Mill Hill)
DC Prediction: Faithfold B 2 Mill Hill 3
FC TEAM B vs LONDON HAROLDEANS
Over the years I’ve learnt never to write FC Team B off. Look at last Sunday as an example – they played fourth-placed Blizzard off the park in a 5-0 win that few could’ve predicted.
That result was no fluke. Far from it in fact. They simply played Blizzard off the park – with Adam Lenz (2), Jon Franks, Freddie Marks and Paul Savitz guiding Team to their biggest win of the season.
Aside from the goals, there were wonderful displays from Dan Lederman, Josh Kaye and Daniel Woolfe, while Lenz played as though he had gold-dust in his boots. He had an absolute worldie. And the signs look good for Sunday as well as manager David Gordon knows that three points would lift them above Haroldeans.
Haroldeans' boss Jon Abrams has described Sunday's contest as "a must-win". His men have leaked the most goals in the division and I cannot see them trying to shut up shop against an FC Team side with the bit between their teeth. But that might just lead to their downfall.
Venue – Old Camdenians, Ref – Neal Cohen
JC star man: Josh Kaye (Team)
DC Prediction: Team 4 Haroldeans 1
FC TEAM C vs ATHLETIC BILBAUM
FC Team C glided past Haroldeans almost effortlessly last weekend, but I think they are in for a harder test against Bilbaum on Sunday.
David Joseph Cohen terrorised the Haroldeans defence to the tune of three goals, while David James Cohen (2), Max Worth, Rob Sanford and Adam Aminoff filled their boots in an 8-1 demolition.
Team also had a hat-trick hero in the first meeting with Bilbaum this season – with James Joseph taking home the matchball after a 6-3 victory and all the signs point towards another win for the boys in yellow and blue in what I expect to be a rather high-scoring encounter.
Venue – Old Camdenians, Ref – Gary Silver
JC star man: Adam Aminoff (Team)
DC Prediction: Team 5 Bilbaum 2
REDBRIDGE JEWISH CARE B vs OAKWOOD B
Ian Tussie is under no illusion as to just how tough things will be for Oakwood on Sunday.
Beaten 3-2 by the young east London pack earlier in the season, Tussie told me this week that the Oaks will be “better prepared” to avoid being left doubled up by a team chasing the title.
The Oaks came out second best against leaders NLR B last week and Tussie expects a big reaction with several players playing for their Oakwood futures.
He told JC Sport: “Yes, the final game of 2013 and it’s been a mixed year. Promotion achieved in April was the highlight but we’ve struggled to make the step up this season for a number of reasons. We’ve lost by the old goal a few times but got a bit of a schooling on Sunday against Raiders which was hard to take and I think we need to massively improve in 2014.
“RJC are an excellent team with some very good young players - the brothers Sollosi in particular stand out - but I think we should be better prepared to face them this time out.
“I’m looking forward to it on Sunday - they’re very good and will probably be one of the teams to go up this season, but it would be nice to cause a bit of an upset ahead of the post-Chanukah break and come back rejuvenated in January.
“There’s a few players with six months left on their contracts who are playing for their futures. I’ve got lads already giving me their demands for their extensions but as is club policy we will not be offering any new contracts until May.
“My deal ends this season and I have confirmed with the Chairman and Chief Executive that I won’t be renewing. The fall-out from last season’s bonus scandal left the taste of maror in my mouth and my differences with Blank and Schock are irreconcilable.
“I’ve got a decent squad available for Sunday with stellar new signing Dan Selwyn due to make his debut. He’s got a wand of a left foot and can open a tin of beans (and other tinned goods) with it and we’ll looking to him to unlock some doors as well on Sunday. Either way we know we’ll have to be at our best to win this one.”
Oakwood’s last league win came on October 6 and I think Tussie and co will have to wait until the New Year for the next one.
Venue – Fairlop, Ref – Brandon Pieters
JC star man: Richard Gold (RJC)
DC Prediction: RJC 3 Oakwood 1
NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS B vs BLIZZARD STORM
NLR will be looking to preserve their three-point lead when they host Blizzard.
Winning has become a habit for Jonathan Adelman’s men who have come away victorious from nine out of their 11 league games. Nicky Woolf – my Division Two Player of the Month for November – has been a class above and last week’s stunning strike in the 3-0 success over Blizzard showed everyone who needed to know that he is much more than your average fox-in-the-box – he scores goals, creates goals and is a real handful for the best-drilled defences in the league.
There are now three tiers in Division Two – NLR, RJC and FC Team C in the top one, Blizzard, Mill Hill, Bilbaum and Oakwood B in the next one, followed by FC Team B, London Haroldeans and Faithfold B. Simon Linden’s Blizzard are currently top of their tier but that theory was put to the test against FC Team B last week and, yes, you guessed it, they failed. Big time.
So don’t be surprised to see the floodgates unlocked by a Raiders team played some really sexy football.
Venue – Brunel, Ref – Quentin Fox
JC star man: JJ Spiro (NLR)
DC Prediction: NLR 5 Blizzard 0
20 - Richard Fogelman (L’Equipe)
16 - Dan Gordon (Faithfold C)
13 - Dovi Fehler (Boca)
CATFORD & BROMLEY MACCABI vs LOUGHTON ORIENT
The nature of Catford’s draw against Boca last Sunday must have felt like a win. There were scenes of pure jubilation after Simon Wolfson earned his team a point with a strike to remember – his first in 17 years for the club.
2-1 winners over Loughton on the opening weekend of the season, the Cats know the importance of finishing the year in style. Norseman FC has turned into a fortress this season and they haven’t conceded there for more than 270 minutes.
Cats captain Adam Luria told JC Sport: "We have a number of absentees this week, but it's a chance to blood some new signings. Aron Taylor, Warren Schenk, Dan Sasto and Ben Lederman are all in with a chance of a start and several other players will be hoping to pull on the shirt after being away for a couple of weeks.
"Loughton Orient will be tough and have picked up some good results recently. It'll be a good, hard-fought game."
Loughton failed to build on the impressive win over Raiders C as they succumbed 2-1 against King Crown. But the derby atmosphere might just bring the best out of Dan Curtis’ troops who have one or two players that will undoubtedly ask questions of the Catford defence.
JC team news: Last week's match-winner Simon Wolfson is unavailable, while the recalled Reuben John has been tipped to cause "havoc".
Venue – Norseman FC, Ref – Henry Raffe
JC star man: Jamie Sinai (Catford)
DC Prediction: Catford 2 Loughton 1
FAITHFOLD C vs AC WHETSTONE
There’s also a derby at the Lodge where both struggling Faithfold and Whetstone will be looking to get back to winning ways.
“A huge disappointment” is how Faithfold player-manager David Garson described the first-half of the season. “We should be near the top, but have been hit hard by injuries,” he told JC Sport.
Indeed Garson is looking for a big improvement in the New Year. He continued: “If we can get everyone back in January and get the confidence back up, we should climb the table.”
Philippe Auret has fond memories of the first meeting with Faithfold. He was Whetstone’s hat-trick hero is a staggering 5-0 victory, with two more from Samuel Leader completing the rout.
Whetstone joint-manager Clive Nathan commended his team for their “organisation and discipline” that day and the signs look good again for Sunday, especially on the back of the 4-1 routing of L’Equipe. Hat-trick hero Dan Cohen was the star of the show and rightly rewarded with a place in JC Team of the Week.
I don’t think it will finish 5-0 second time around, but the signs all point to another Whetstone win.
JC team news: Farrell Monk becomes the eighth player on the Faithfold treatment table (Ed. that must be one long treatment table!) and he has been ruled out for Sunday. Charlie Resnick is just away for a week so “we are hoping for a clean sheet!” said Garson.
Venue – Chase Lodge, Ref – Stuart Ansher
JC star man: Alon Pinhas (Whetstone)
DC Prediction: Faithfold 2 Whetstone 4
JEWDINESE vs NORSTAR LONDON RAIDERS C
Two form teams are getting ready to rumble on Sunday as leaders Jewdinese tackle nearest rivals NLR C.
Revenge will be the name of the game for Jewdinese who were edged out 2-1 by NLR in October. Liam Stein and Jamie Weinrich were their goal men that day, with Weinrich firing home the winner.
Jewdinese have won seven on the spin and they are scoring goals from all around the park. Club chairman Jake Erlich told me earlier in the week that they will be looking to make a fast start.
“Sunday's game in my opinion will determine whether we win the league or not,” Erlich told JC Sport. “The team knows what is at stake and even though we lost to them first time out, to us they are beatable team. We aim to put pressure on them early so that we unsettle them.
“With an unbeaten home record, we know that we have a slight advantage going into the game, but with a feisty affair against them last time out we know this will be an enjoyable game for supporters.”
Reflecting on the first half of the season, Erlich added: “I can't stress enough how proud I am of every player up until now. The effort shown in training and commitment each week is why we are top of the league.
“If you were to ask me if we would be top of the league at the end of 2013 after two consecutive losses to Norstar and Catford i would have laughed. However after not losing a match since October 13th we have shown that we have a squad who believes in their ability.”
NLR have responded superbly since losing to Loughton. Respective 3-0 and 4-0 victories over Catford and Fortune have kept them firmly in the mix and they will arrive in buoyant mood.
Josh Younger, Will Ufland and Weinrich will pose the biggest threats going forward, while at the back, keeper Grant Waissel, my Division Three Player of the Season, and Jake Yudelowitz, the runner-up, will be keen to impress once more.
But if Jewdinese play anything like they can, then it is asking a lot for the Raiders to get the better of them at Morris Playing Fields.
JC team news: Jewdinese are almost at full-strength, with the only absentee being Ben Halmer. Sim Cohen is looking to make his return after two weeks on the sidelines.
Venue – Morris Playing Fields
JC star man: Barney Rhodes (Jewdinese)
DC Prediction: Jewdinese 2 NLR 1
L’EQUIPE vs KING CROWN
L’Equipe will be looking to finish the weekend above Sunday’s opponents King Crown, but they may not have things all their own way.
Back-to-back league defeats against Whetstone and Boca have left them with plenty to do and they can expect no favours from the team currently lying in fourth position.
The L’Equipe boys have conceded 10 times in the last 180 minutes and that is certainly not promotion form, so joint-manager Dan Cordell knows a major improvement is needed this weekend.
“We need a win before the end of the year,” he told JC Sport. “We have had a pretty awful past three games and the boys need to show their metal going into a game in which we won the reverse 9-1 at the beginning of the season. We need to put this year to bed and go into 2014 with three points behind us.
“The boys know we were woeful last week, which coming off the back of a cracker against Lions was so disappointing. So I believe three points are on the cards for us.”
King Crown have had one or two disciplinary problems this season, but we saw the best of them last Sunday as they put Faithfold C to the sword.
They were blown away by Richard Fogelman on Matchday One of the season and it’s crucial they handle him better second time around.
A top four finish is the target, according to manager Jacob Kadoch. Reflecting on the season so far, he told JC Sport: “It was always going to be a hard start as we are all new players who did not know a lot of each other. But now we are getting to see what we are capable of, although there’s still a lot of work to do.
“I have a full team for Sunday and we’re looking to get three wins out of three and finish the year on a high. We are looking to get top four this season.”
I think there may be goals on Sunday, but perhaps not an outright winner.
Venue – West Hendon, Ref – Laurence Thorne
JC star man: Ben Isaacs (King Crown)
DC Prediction: L’Equipe 2 King Crown 2
TEMPLE FORTUNE vs HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB C
Hendon and Fortune are oceans apart at the minute. Although Adam Glekin’s men were well beaten by table-toppers Jewdinese last Sunday, I don’t expect them to encounter too many problems against the bottom team in the league.
Recent wins over King Crown and Boca have lifted their fans and on Sunday they will be looking to complete a quickfire league double over a Fortune team they beat 3-1. Ben David and James Neidle were among the scorers in the 3-1 success last month.
A bumper crowd is expected to follow Hendon to the Roger Bannister Stadium after they were featured all over the national press this week. Having made the back papers of both Jewish newspapers following their dramatic penalty shootout victory over the Masters in the Peter Morrison Cup, manager Adam Glekin admits he was stunned by the events that followed.
“I got a call on Monday morning from Talksport saying they wanted me on the Hawskbee and Jacobs show, and the story was also featured in The Sun. I'm not quite sure why the story has had such overwhelming interest, but any publicity for the club, the league, and Jewish football can't be a bad thing.”
Looking ahead to Sunday, Glekin to me that he is taking nothing for granted. “Although Fortune are struggling in the table, they gave us a very tough game a few weeks ago so we'll need to be on our game. As I wasn't present at our match last week, I'll still claim we're on a three-match winning streak! A win will put us in a decent position going into the New Year so that's what we'll be aiming for.”
JC team news: Hendon welcome back the dangerous Saul Cohen into the squad for the first time since the opening day of the season. There are a few knocks and niggles in the squad so there will be some late fitness tests, though Alex Elf and Joni Kleiman are both definitely out.
Venue – Roger Bannister, Ref – Robert Benardout
JC star man: Ben David (Hendon)
DC Prediction: Fortune 1 Hendon 4