ALYTHU11REDWEB Sunday afternoon saw Alyth Belsize’s various club sides take part in JNMJFL action…

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11:
Alyth Belsize Reds 2 Brady Maccabi 1

After a long break from playing, we returned to the Ark knowing that a win against Brady would put us in an unassailable position at the top of the league.

The boys took to the pitch with their usual swagger and right from the off we were on top. But it was to prove one of those games where the result was more important than the performance. It’s not that we played badly it was more, I think, that we didn’t play that well. Well enough to restrict Brady to only two or three chances and of course well enough to win the game! I think the windy conditions also didn’t help, but yet again we were too congested in the middle of the pitch. We must learn to use the whole of the pitch. Our wide players must try and keep wide and give their teammates the option of spreading the ball out – if you are drifting in then you are less likely to receive the ball in a position that will allow us to drive forward. Simon and I will have a think about this, as we want to finish the season as strongly as we started it.

However, all that said there were some lovely moments – a sweet passing move in the first half with Lior Solomons Wise firing in, only to be denied by the post; Jake at full stretch preventing a goal against the run of play; the goals we scored, a neat finish for our opener from Eden Cohen from a well-taken corner. On the subject of corners, I must say we have improved greatly on these; both Lior and Max Cutner were delivering the ball in very well.

The second goal was an own goal, I believe, but credit goes to Zac Paul and Ben Hurst for causing the confusion in the Brady defence.

Brady did strike back, with a goal ten minutes from time. But, apart from an indirect free-kick – and we have now all learnt that the goalie cannot pick the ball up from a throw-in from his own teammate – they never really threatened us. However, when we only have a one-goal advantage, we can never really relax. For the rest of the season and certainly into next, we must find our ruthless side again. Let’s get a handsome lead – then we can all relax and enjoy the game.

I thought Max had a good game this week, battling hard and playing that ugly midfield role that has to be done to stop the opposition playing. Some of you may have noticed that towards the end of the game we switched him to the left wing, just thinking about next season… We wanted to see how he and Lior (both left-footers) can play together on that side.

The defence also played well, with Asher Hayes and Alex Godfrey, and then Ben, all holding the line well. We caught Brady offside four or five times and put our foot in when required. We must learn that sometimes putting your laces through the ball when under pressure is the right option.

Well done Alyth Belsize Reds! Champions again for the third season running. You should all be very, very proud of yourselves – I know that I am very proud to be your manager.

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8:
Alyth Belsize Red vs Alyth Belsize Black

This was always going to be a big match, and it turned out to be more exciting than watching the Premier League! Before going into more detail, the sheer physicality and determination of this under 8 match was impressive from both sides, and made for good football. Alyth Belsize should be proud of being able to field such accomplished teams.

We played with Raffi Goodman in goal, Benny Landeck and Dylan Margolis in defence, with Oliver Shaw subbing in, Jaren Ziegler in mid-defence, Theo Brass and Didier Levenfiche on the wings, Bo Fraiman in mid-attack, and Louis Marcus and Gabriel Broll sharing the striker’s role.

The game started well, with both sides seemingly evenly matched. Everyone was putting in their best performance, and we were playing a good team game. After 10 minutes, Theo was passed the ball from the midfield, and took a shot at goal from well outside the box. It was on target, and took the goalie by surprise, who fumbled, and let it slip behind the line. Well done Theo! This increased the confidence of the Reds, who then dominated the rest of the first half. Bo in particular was on fire, running, tackling and dribbling like a demon. Just a few minutes later, Dylan passed the ball from his defensive position to Didier on the right wing, who passed to Bo, who dribbled past a Black defender and shot the ball into the back of the net. A perfect team effort, with a perfect ending. Half-time 2-0 to the Reds.

At half-time, we knew we still had a long way to go. I reminded the boys that the last time we played the Blacks we went from 2-0 up to 3-2 down, so we had to keep up the teamwork and not get complacent. The Blacks came back on with a renewed determination, and it was in this second half that the true physicality of the game was noted. The Blacks were back in the game, and we had to fight hard. Early on in the second half, Louis took a throw-in, which he perfectly threw over the heads of 2 Blacks to the waiting Bo, who dribbled the ball along the right wing, artfully passing a few Blacks, and then shot into the left corner of the goal. 3-0 and we seemed unbeatable.

The scoreline, however, only seemed to fire up the Blacks, whilst we were tiring, and they began to dominate the play more. They scored their first goal soon after, passing three of our players in quick succession and booting the ball into the net. There followed corner after corner, which were nail-biting, with the ball never clearing our half for long, leading to the inevitable second Black goal. Thankfully, the final whistle blew, and we had our victory.

We played a great team game, with everyone contributing to the final score. This was Bo’s third game for us, and what a game! Not only did he score his first goals for the Reds, he showed impressive talent and skill. Well done Bo.

Even though this was probably our best game yet, I do still think it’s worth mentioning where we need to improve. During the many corners we had to defend, I was still having to remind players to mark someone. All too often, there was an unmarked Black ready to take the ball. There were also times when our midfielders were too bunched in the middle, not spreading out enough to pass down the field. Food for thought for next week’s Mystery Cup Competition…

Man-of-the-Match has to be Bo for his two goals, and exceptional performance.

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U7:
Alyth Belsize vs Hendon United Red

Picking the team today was going to be very easy as we could only muster four players! Luckily our opponents were kind enough to loan us a player (or three, on a rotating basis!) so we could play an evenly balanced 5-a-side game. Our first borrowed player was a defender, so we kicked-off with Zoe Cutner in goal, Rafi Rosenfield and Ely Boyd in midfield and Ben Craig up front.

Play started off fairly evenly matched, but we had the disadvantage of facing into the sun and this quickly proved a problem for Zoe, who simply couldn’t see anything coming towards her in goal! After Hendon scored their first I did offer her my sunglasses to cut out the glare but she turned down my offer on fashion grounds, so I guess we need to add a good old-fashioned cap to our kitbag for future sunny days!

After 10 minutes our opponents switched around their team and we got a new borrowed player, who preferred to play in midfield, so Rafi dropped back into defence where he proved to be a colossus, clearing everything and inspiring great confidence in both the team and the manager. Rafi’s improvement over the season has been amazing and I hope that continues as he grows in both confidence and skill. It wasn’t just his strong clearances but his intelligent play that is the marked difference. He’s now thinking like a footballer!

In the second half we continued as before with Ely starting to make stronger challenges and Ben continuing to attack their goal like a terrier. He was so unlucky not to score, missing the target by inches on several occasions, but I was very pleased to see him finding space and breaking away from the opponents a number of times to find himself in good goal-scoring positions.

The second half was a lot easier for the goalie too, so we saw Zoe making more saves and coming out of her goal more to collect the ball or close down the play. We may not have won but overall we didn’t play badly, and our four players were all showing a lot more confidence and skill by the end of the game. It’s a shame we don’t have many more fixtures as what we need is more practice and more regular play (unfortunately we now have to wait till September to get a regular run of games again!).