PETER MORRISON TROPHY SEMI-FINAL
OAKWOOD A 3 SOUTH MANCHESTER SPORTS CLUB 1st 2 (AFTER EXTRA-TIME)
Ric Blank says Oakwood are ready for Hendon after they booked a return to Wingate & Finchley with a thrilling extra-time win over South Manchester, courtesy of a strike from Alex Koslover.
The Oaks started the better side and Brad Wine almost scored in the first minute before Toby Levy opened the scoring against the run of play with a free-kick into the wind that deceived keeper Dan Cohen.
Oakwood responded, with Josh Bentley winning a towering header from a corner that was flicked in by Wine.
From there Oakwood were in control, according to Blank, but they were always kept on our toes by the outstanding Levy.
The South keeper made three top-class saves and Guy Helman had a strike ruled out for offside.
Free-scoring defender Sam Jacobson put the hosts in front from a corner on the stroke of half time.
At the interval the Oaks spoke about killing the game off, but they had their worst spell for the first 15 minutes of the second half. Adam Lavin came into the game for South as Oakwood looked a little nervy, sitting a bit deep.
Mikael Fogel equalised with a tremendous lobbed volley finish at the far post from a great Levy ball.
Oakwood showed the resolve they are renowned for and came back stronger. The hosts had chances to win it, but were denied what Blank described as "a clear penalty" when Wine was hauled down in the box when through on goal.
South tired in extra-time and home fans believed there was only one winner as the Oaks went from strength to strength.
Wine was simply magnificent and caused Mark Addis and co untold problems. Blank told JC Sport: "I refuse to believe there was a better performance in amateur football in the country than Brad Wine's. He plays with courage and a winner's mentality and when asked to do a job for the team, does it with bells on top.
"He's been unbelievable the past few weeks and coming into form at the right time ahead of the final. Having his folks on the sidelines has also resulted in a return to winning ways. Coincidence? No chance.
Mike Stratton for South was performing admirably, but could do nothing about the winner. Wine tore down the line and delayed perfectly before slipping Koslover in. Against his old team, Koslover was coolness personified and slipped the ball into the corner.
The question now was whether we could get the fourth goal to make the tie safe. Jonn Quinn missed at the near post and fired narrowly wide from distance as Oakwood, the strong and fitter team, ended the game well on top.
Blank told JC Sport: "Two years ago we played South in Manchester and produced a classic 1-0 away performance. This was a totally different affair and showed me how far we've come. We dominated possession and chances and but for some inspired goalkeeping and contentious decisions - that affected both sides - we could have been out of sight by half time.
"It was a good game played in the right spirit and the praise and well wishes we received after from the South players and manager Jody were greatly appreciated.
"Now we have a massive game against Hendon that we're looking forward to immensely. This is not about them and their treble - this is about us. They like to have things their own way, but we will make sure that doesn't happen.
"I am immensely proud of all the boys for the character they have shown in recent weeks to come back from poor results and performances. They now have a PM final to look forward to."
South Manchester manager Jody Marks told JC Sport: "Well done to Ric and his Oaks team. Missing four key players hurt us in the end and on another day we may have snatched it.
"I would like no better team to win it now than our friends in London and hope they now go one better than they did two years ago against Hendon.
"We started the season with the goal to win our league for an unprecedented third time on the trot and we need to pick ourselves up quickly and make sure we finish the season strongly with the league and cup double still up for grabs."