JC MSFL PREMIER DIVISON
HENDON UNITED SPORTS CLUB A 0 FAITHFOLD 0
Faithfold claimed the point they needed to be crowned league champions for the first time since season 2004/05 as they played out a goalless draw against last season's champions Hendon at Hadley FC.
The Superhoops edged a tight encounter with the heroics of Hendon keeper Russell Corin keeping them at bay in a game dominated by defences.
Hendon settled first and edged the first 20 minutes. The first chance of the game came in the opening minutes as Faithfold keeper Ben Law fumbled a corner and Ari Last saw his snapshot come back off the post.
Faithfold gradually came into the game, with Mike Pearson looking sharp against his former club. Faithfold fans were celebrating as Pearson ran through unchallenged and sent a lob goalwards, but the ball drifted inches over the bar.
The Superhoops enjoyed a good period of pressure as Pearson's cross was volleyed wide by Paul Babai. Josh Lipman then did well to deflect a Pearson shot wide and from the resultant corner, Babai flashed a header just wide.
Hendon then had a good penalty shout turned down as captain Alex Levack appeared to clip Greg Corin, but referee Martin Lavender waved play on.
Faithfold were dealt a blow 10 minutes into the second half as Pearson limped off feeling his hamstring and Daryl Phillips came on.
As the game wore on, it looked more and more as though one goal would settle it. Phillips was quickly into the action, forcing a brave save by the onrushing Corin and the keeper then produced a stunning one-handed save to deny Phillips in a one-on-one.
And as Lavender put the whistle to his lips to a final time, nothing could stop the Faithfold celebrations as the London FA Sunday Intermediate Cup winners completed the double.
Faithfold manager Zuriel Solomon told JC Sport: "The boys worked ever so hard today and it was fitting that we've won the title at the home of last season's champions.
"Hendon are still a great team and as I said at the beginning of the season, whoever would finish above them would win it.
"I felt we had the better of the chances today and our back four was immense again, just as it has been all season. We've only conceded 14 league goals, which is some achievement, and lost once in the league. The boys have shown a real hunger and belief from within. They have been immense and got what they deserved."
Solomon believes it has been a real team effort. "At the beginning of the season we lost players to travelling and I had a squad of 20 for what was going to be a long season. We've also picked up some great signings, including Mike Pearson, Sam Reeves and Elliot Stern.
"I believe all the boys will stay as they are hungry for more. Myself and Daryl Phillips have worked incredibly hard. Neither of us has missed a game all season. We've got a great bunch of boys and we're looking forward to challenging again next season and being competitive on all fronts."
Hendon boss David Garbacz told JC Sport: "We gave it everything today in trying to get the win that would have extended the league and make Faithfold sweat.
"We certainly matched them for desire and started the match much stronger. I felt we really needed to score when we were so on top in those first 20 minutes – we hit a post and had a great penalty shout turned down and were first to everything.
"In fairness to Faithfold, they recovered well and were the better team for the second part of that first half. The second half was tighter – they had clearly decided to hold out for the point and try to hit us on the break and we simply did not have enough to break them down.
"I could not fault my team for effort but all things considered a draw was probably a fair result in the end.
"Huge congratulations to Zuriel and his Faithfold team. They have been by far the most consistent team in the league this year and thoroughly deserve to be champions.
"They looked really strong in all departments and had a great mix of youth and experience. As for us – we suffered this year through not having enough strength in depth although in the circumstances. We still gave it our all and have put up a valiant title defence.
"As Arnie once famously said: "We will be back," but for now well done to Faithfold on a great season.
Hendon: Russell Corin, Ben Kon, Alex Nadler, Alex Rosenthal, Josh Lipman (capt), Ari Last, Rafi Kon, Dovid Korman, Avidan Last, Greg Corin, Jacob Gold (sub: Danny Kon)
Faithfold: Ben Law, Alex Taylor, Paul Savitz, Dan Howard, Alex Levack (capt), Dan Stock, Dan Perkins, Sam Reeves, Paul Babai, Jonny Haik (sub: Benji Dymant), Mike Pearson (sub: Daryl Phillips)