David Garbacz has pinpointed his nephew, Josh Bentley, as the man Hendon need to stop if they are to clinch the first part of a possible treble in Sunday’s Peter Morrison Trophy final at Wingate & Finchley.
Having cut NLR’s lead at the top of the MGBSFL Premier Division to just six points, with three games in hand, Garbacz is confident his players can preserve their unbeaten domestic streak against an Oakwood team they beat in the Jewish FA Cup final two seasons ago.
There has never been much love lost between the two sides and Oakwood will be desperate for that first trophy which they probably are due
There is an irresistible quality about Hendon now, but Garbacz has warned his team to beware of the threat of Hendon old boy Bentley.
Garbacz said: "We are unbeaten all season, but all that will count for nothing if we can’t finish off the job in the real business end of things.
"There will be key battles all over the park, but undoubtedly the big one will be between Josh Bentley and Ari Last in the centre of midfield.
"Ari has been in superb form all season and has been brilliantly supported by Yoav Lebens and Rafi Kon.
"We all know what a tough competitor Josh is and I expect him to have a massive game, but I just feel that, as a three, we will be too strong and, slowly but surely, we should assume control of that area."
“We are also well aware of the threats posed by Brad Wine and another key battle will be between him and Avi Korman. Avi has also had a fantastic season and has endless energy and strength."
Hendon go into the final in top form and with a psychological edge having beaten the Oaks 4-2 in the league in December, when Avidan Last (2), Greg Corin and Rafi Kon were the marksmen.
"There has never been much love lost between the two sides and Oakwood will be desperate for that first trophy which they probably are due,” said Garbacz.
"However, if it is to be at our expense they will need to play at the top of their game and have everything go their way.
"This will not be a match for the faint-hearted — Oakwood will definitely try to get in our faces, but my boys will give as good as they get — I assure you of that.” Garbacz says Oakwood will need to produce “something special" as his team has been “Scrooge-like,” conceding only one goal in eight games.
"Alex Rosenthal has come to the fore in Josh Lipman’s absence, with Ari Nevies and Ben Kon super-consistent.
"Further up the field, Yishai Last has looked incredibly sharp all season and we have other potential match winners in Greg Corin, Yoav Kestenbaum Avidan Last and Danny Kon plus other forward options as well.
"There is huge competition for places up front which is excellent and I will face my most difficult selection decisions in that area.
“We will respect them but not by so much that we won't play our normal game.
“We have no injury or unavailabilities going into this game - there can be no excuses - we've been on an amazing run - I'm not entirely sure but I think we have won our last 18 games on the trot in all competitions. It is an amazing record.
"Overall we know we are stronger and better than them - we have to be sure we turn up on the day and prove it and don't freeze.
"If it needs a moment of magic we've got the players to provide it - if we need to grind it out we've got the players for that as well - we are confident without being arrogant - we just have huge belief all around the squad. I hope it's a good advert for Jewish football.
"If we win this one, I truly believe we will win the lot — out of all our big games to go, this is the biggest.”
Having ended Norstar London Raiders A’s treble aspirations at the semi-final stage, Oakwood are quietly confident of inflicting Hendon’s first defeat this season.
Oakwood will be missing Guy Helman and Louis Basger, but joint-manager Ric Blank believes the squad has improved since their last visit to Wingate.
"It's funny how history repeats itself," he said. "Just like two years ago, it’s a South semi followed by a Hendon final. Two years ago we were defeated in extra-time, but we return a better side, now playing Premiership football.
"We were the better side in 2012 and will look to put in a similar performance, but win.
"We know all about Hendon and they know all about us. They are the strongest side without doubt and it’s no coincidence they’re in both cup finals and fighting for the title. They’ve been there and done it, but they’ve not had anywhere like the challenge we will present in the cups this season. While they've taken on lower league opposition we've beaten Raiders and South."
"We come into this game knowing what a big game is all about. We are ready and up for the challenge. There is huge belief running through the side right now — it’s brilliant to be around.
"Hendon love having the rub of the green. They’re clever in getting their own way — it’s something we can learn from. We have to stop that from happening. We have to stop that from happening. That's totally up to us. But if we can put in a real Oakwood performance we’ll have a fantastic chance of doing something special.
"I imagine Hendon will bring back Lipman or Colman or maybe both. That's fine if they do. We take that as a huge show of respect. We have no Guy Helman and Louis Basger is in New York so he won't be playing.
"This will be the Oakwood we all know - the one we love. And we'll be ready."
ONE TO WATCH: (Words by Ric Blank) - "Josh Bentley doesn't look for praise but his influence since he joined Oakwood has been immense. We're delighted he'll be in Oakwood colours today against his old side. He'll be motivated but anyone who saw his performance against Raiders will know he doesn't discriminate against opponents. He'll be up for it but no more so than any other game."
CUP FINAL SQUADS:
GK: - Russell Corin
Defenders: Alex Rosenthal, Avi Korman, Ben Kon, Ari Nevies, Motti Colman, Josh Lipman, Alex Gilbert
Midfield: Ari Last (capt), Rafi Kon, Yoav Lebens, Yehuda Korman
Strikers: Yishai Last, Yoav Kestenbaum, Greg Corin, Avidan Last, Danny Kon, Jacob Gold, Dovid Korman
Manager: David Garbacz
GK: Oli Gee, Dan Cohen
Defenders: Dave Cohen, Jonny Beilin, Ilan Scorah, Adam Levine, Sam Jacobson, Danny Ailion, Harvey Kaye, Louis Basger, Eddie Manson
Midfield: Dan Geey, Josh Bentley, Dan Rose, Josh Rose, Alex Koslover, Carl Peters, Guy Helman, Bobbie Cousins, Dan Ash
Strikers: Bobby Cousins, Antony Kintish, Jonny Quinn, Dave Woolman, Josh Rubin
Managers: Ric Blank & Alex Schock
JC STAT ATTACK (PMT record)
Goals scored: 14
Goals conceded: 2
Top-scorer: Ari Last 3
Goals scored: 16
Goals conceded: 7
Top-scorer: Wine 4
Venue - Wingate & Finchley FC, KO - 2pm
DC Prediction: Hendon 2 Oakwood 1