Sunday afternoon saw Alyth Belsize’s various club sides take part in JNMJFL action…
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U10:
Alyth Belsize 7 Hendon United Green 3
Another glorious afternoon of football today at the very chilly Hive (or was it the Ark? No, the Hive!) although some of us actually drove to the Ark only to be told the match had been moved to the Hive! Not only did we manage to get there on time but we produced yet another superb performance, coming from behind twice after a sluggish start.
As most of you know I had my concerns as to how we would perform going into this top division given our poor recent record against the other top six teams, but wow have we turned things around or what?! And in some style too… Played 4, won 4 so far, with only the league leaders Hendon White left; this is a remarkable achievement for the Red & Black army, which makes me a VERY proud manager.
First of all, Adam, you were right we did actually manage to beat the Greens once before and it was two years ago in our U8 season; but even so they have since had the better of us five times, including the cup final last season, so this was a mighty sweet payback today! But it wasn’t as comfortable as the final result might suggest.
The first half was tricky and it is fair to say we were second best for big parts of it, although we still gave the visitors enough to think about at the other end of the pitch. They started brightly and our back three, sitting too deep for the first part, were cut open a few times far too easily by the skilful HIS front two, which didn’t bode well for the rest of the half.
Indeed, after a few minutes we found ourselves 1-0 down after a typical one-two carved our defence open and their striker showed good composure to send the ball into the top right corner from the edge of the box, Asher Cohen no chance.
Our heads did not go down as we tried to produce a response; however, Leo Morad’s head nearly did when he was bashed from point-blank range by a ball into his face! That caused a few minutes’ stoppage after which Leo was okay and went out for a rest, and we proceeded in our attempts to get back in the game. We managed to do so thanks to the likely source of our duo Nadav Jacobs/Jamie Isaacs – Nadav the provider with a clever through ball from the right to find Jay unmarked outside the box one-on-one with their keeper.
Our momentum after this goal was short-lived and was cut by a very dubious penalty decision against us, when Asher rushed off his line to get to a ball rolling into the box, decided for some reason to go with his foot rather than his arms but still managed to get the ball and clear it before the Hendon striker got to it; only he tripped over Asher’s leg and the referee pointed to the spot. Asher had no chance with the penalty and we were 2-1 down.
After this goal we had a bad spell of five-six minutes where the visitors were all over us, piling on the pressure, whilst we kept giving the ball away far too easily in our own half but thanks to Asher, the post and a good bit of fortune we hung on and then managed a counter-punch of our own. A great throw-in by Adam Tyler close to the right corner flag managed to fall kindly to Jamie Isaacs feet, and as cool as you like he slotted the ball home from inside the box to get us back on level terms and much more optimistic at half-time.
The second half was a completely different story and, after dominating play for the first few minutes, we managed to get our noses in front for the first time in the match after Jake Shindler played a long ball towards Jamie Isaacs, who again was quicker than both defenders. There is just no one cooler in front of goal at the moment so his hat-trick was well deserved. We were in total control, or so it seemed, but a few minutes later we lost possession in the middle of the park and seconds later after a quick one-two right through the heart of our defence, the ball was in the back of our net after a very well taken finish; Ethan Zybutz had no chance and the score was all level again at 3-3!
And on we went; it took no more than two minutes for us to take the lead again when Jamie was blocked running at the Greens’ defence and Nadav Jacobs, who was relentless as usual, was quick to react and managed to beat the goalie to the loose ball and poked it into the back of the net. 4-3 Alyth Belsize!
From that point there was only one team who was going to win this match! Not long after, a ball was cleared from the middle of the park towards Jacob Mellman, who was well inside our half; the big fella put his foot through it and the ball travelled in the air the length of the pitch towards the target; the goalie has it…no he doesn’t! The ball slipped under his hands and between his legs to send us celebrating quite a remarkable Jacob goal.
We showed no mercy and kept going at the now very helpless HIS defence. Jacob now turned provider and sent a delightful pass across two-thirds of the pitch to find the ever-so-crafty Jake Shindler, who didn’t fail in front of goal to make it 6-3. Not long after he managed to grab a second in an even more crafty fashion when he was in the right place in the Hendon box to meet a hoofed ball from Jamie and headed it backwards over the goalie’s hands to make it 7-3, brilliant!
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8:
Alyth Belsize vs HMH Haifa
It was a pleasure to watch this match, because it felt like our old team was back. We played Haifa, who destroyed us in our last meeting, so our draw today definitely felt like a victory!
We started with Raffi Goodman in goal, David Rahamim and Oliver Shaw subbing in defence, Dylan Margolis in mid-defence, Oliver Shatz and Theo Brass in the wings, Didier Levenfiche in mid-attack, and Gabriel Broll as striker. These positions worked well, and we played well as team. We’d discussed with the boys prior to the match that Haifa were a good team that passed beautifully, and the only way we were going to beat them was to pass as a team too. I told them to look up, not take too many touches on the ball, and act.
Well, we played perfectly. Within a few minutes, the ball was passed up the pitch, crossed by Theo to the waiting Gabe, who scored our goal. Rather than resting on our laurels, I’d say we then went from strength to strength and continued to fight to make our second goal. There were a few attempts that didn’t quite make it (all credit to their goalie), and then there was the giant scramble at the goal line … we kept trying, they kept blocking, more than one Haifa player appeared to be goalie (hand ball ref?!), but to no avail.
At half-time, we knew that Haifa would be hungry for a goal, and we had to work even harder. We moved positions around a little, which didn’t seem to work quite as well as in the first half, but we still battled on. Haifa scored a fantastic goal from close to the halfway line, equalising the score. From this point on, I’d say both teams were very evenly pitched.
Raffi made some fantastic saves, as ever. Dylan was the star of the show, defending like a demon, always reading the play intelligently, being in the right place to tackle and pass. In fact, I’d say this is where he’s improved most in recent weeks. The Dylan of old could always run and tackle fearlessly, but lacked that innate knowledge of the game that now enables him to read, and react, to the game as it happens. David and Oliver Shaw both played a good game, kicking hard (always useful in defence) and passing well. Oliver Shatz played a fast game on the wing. Theo was an improvement from last week, and well on the way to playing off his three-month rustiness. Didier, as always, was solid and trustworthy in attack. Gabe, as mentioned earlier, found his goal because he was in the right position, and skilful enough to act when necessary!
Last week, I said that as a team we needed to take fewer touches and look up more, and this definitely happened. I’d say we now need to work on our finishing.
Man-of-the-Match has to be Dylan. Special mention also to Raffi and Gabe.
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U7:
Alyth Belsize vs HMH Eilat
We kicked off with a six-a-side formation, with Zoe Cutner in goal, Harry Abrahams in defence, a solid midfield of Noah Oakley, Sam Gatty and Ami Morad, and Jonah Phillips up front. After about 30 seconds it immediately became apparent that the pitch was too big so we paused the game while one goal was wheeled forward and the box redrawn.
Overall we played well in the first half, with the game very equal; attempts were made on goal at both ends but were generally safely saved. About halfway through the half we were awarded a free kick just outside the area. After some debate Ami stepped up to take the kick. Rather than go straight for goal, Ami passed the ball to a waiting Sam but unfortunately he was closed down very quickly by our eager opponents. Shortly after, HMH were awarded a corner. In man-marking their players we omitted to put a man on the near post, and when the ball whizzed in it hit one of our players in front of goal and rebounded against Zoe’s leg and into the goal. While we administered the magic sponge to Zoe’s leg, Harry put on the goalie gloves and Rafi Rosenfield took up the defensive mantle.
The rest of the half continued in much the same vein, with Noah having a fine shot on target saved and HMH earning themselves another corner that this time went past the man now stationed on the near post, right though all the players and off the other side of the pitch.
After a very short half-time break we trotted back on the pitch with Zoe back in goal, Jonah moving into midfield and Tom Dolan up front. Again the game was very evenly matched and the boys ran themselves ragged looking for the equaliser. The wind chill was starting to get to Zoe in goal, but she gamely played on, stopping a ball with her feet and making several more saves as HMH piled on the pressure (with the HMH parents kindly encouraging her from behind the goal!). Finally though she could take no more so Tom took over the reins while she wrapped up in the manager’s duvet-like coat.
Our midfield continued to battle, and we saw some solid tackling and accurate passing – with Sam in particular seemingly everywhere. HMH were equally keen to seal their win and continued to pressure on their side, with solid defending from Rafi keeping them away from goal. Then disaster… Tom’s goal kick from the edge of his box went straight to an HMH player, who took advantage and slotted home into an empty goal. We hadn’t noticed that the HMH parent referee had throughout the game gradually been moving the ‘halfway line’ further and further into our half so that the player was only about a foot away when Tom took his goal kick. Unfortunately it was too late by this point to cancel the goal but we will be much more vigilant in future games that the opposition are always well behind a halfway line that is actually midway between the two goals when a goal kick is taken!