ALYTHU11REDWEBSunday afternoon saw Alyth Belsize’s various club sides take part in JNMJFL action…

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11:
Alyth Belsize Reds 3 Hendon United Blue 1

After a few weeks lay-off and up against the only team that has beaten us this year, it was important to get off to a good start. With manager Simon missing for the first half, I told the boys how important it was to start quickly and try to get an early goal, like Liverpool have done this season. Unfortunately, the boys were a little lethargic to start and conceded a goal fairly early on. To be fair, this galvanised the team and they started to play a lot better. Passing and moving in attack and closing down well in defence. Once we were first to the ball it got a lot easier.

We seemed to struggle with the long ball game of the opponents, but apart from 2 or 3 scares with last-ditch tackles from Alex Godfrey and Asher Hayes, we managed to catch them offside on a number of occasions by everyone pushing out and keeping a fairly high line.

An equaliser was inevitable, but it didn’t come through our best play. A free-kick in our own half, lofted into the box by Lior Solomons Wise, through the keeper’s legs to be finished on the line by Zac Paul. A great example of how Zac’s ‘never-say-die’ attitude and chasing of lost causes pays off.

Jake Brass in goal was not busy but made excellent saves when needed and came out to clear well a few times. Despite Hendon hitting the bar from a free-kick, we looked much more assured as the first half ended.

The second half was a different story. We never looked in trouble and made countless chances. The team knew at half-time that our attack was better than their defence and we made this count. A great delivery from Lior’s corner gave Eden Cohen a well-deserved goal, which eased the nerves and a third goal – again from Zac – secured the win. Simon’s return to the touchline seemed to push the team on, realising they were playing for their cup-final places. Interestingly, a lot more play came down the right this week and special mention to Rudy Berman and Eden for their contribution. Max Cutner, as always, did the dirty stuff and stopped HIS playing. All in all, a comfortable win with good performances all round.

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11:
Alyth Belsize Black 2 Hendon United Red 3

I felt we were unlucky to lose today, a draw would have been a fairer result

We didn’t play to anything like the level of football we have achieved this year – again our defending was not great and we did not really use the width of the pitch to stretch the game. I will also take some of the blame, as too many substitutions interrupted our flow, and I will have a re-think about how we will approach next season – possibly taking only 11 to any single game with substitutes to match

Back to today’s game – we were led out by birthday boy Sam Cohen – and special mention to both goalscorers, who I also felt were our best players, Jamie Richardson and Sam B, our prolific striker. Since we signed him his goals per game are on a par with Ronaldo – please let it continue!

Aran Haber and Chopper had solid games but for all our huff and puff we had no spark today.

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

Our final match of the regular season was a hotly contested 8-a-side derby match vs Alyth Red.  Although both teams were looking forward to playing against club mates and school mates, this held every prospect of being a grudge match between the opposing management teams – not least because a few members of the mighty Alyth Blacks transferred out of last year’s Alyth Reds team.  Fortunately, the adults on the touchlines behaved themselves, and we were treated to a thrilling match.

Indeed, in many moments, it was end to end, with rapid breakaways and last-ditch defending.  At other times, the ball seemed pinned down in a battle of wills between the Blacks and the Reds, bouncing like a pinball in a tight area of the pitch, back and forth, back and forth.

Before the game, I asked the boys to remember to pass the ball, not hoof it upfield.  I am glad to say that each and every member of the team remembered this instruction and I counted fewer than 5 big punts in the entire game.  Just as encouragingly, I saw each and every member of our team try a range of passes:  short passes to their nearest team mate, passes into space for a team mate to run at, through passes in between the line of opponents in front of them… I also saw plenty of skill.  I saw Yoav Cabili, Oscar Russell, Noah Shapiro and Jack Kanereck perform skills like 360 turns and stopovers to create the space to pass.  I saw Oscar, Daniel Tyler and Adam Gonen combine in neat one-twos to thread the ball to our forward line.  As always, Jack K and Noah combined well on the wing. Oscar was all over the pitch coordinating attacks and helping in the ‘transition’ between us defending and shifting into attack mode, playing through-ball after through-ball to our striker, with Sam Mocatta being unlucky not to score on several occasions.

Just as impressively, our defenders put in a really noteworthy shift.  Tyler Richards, our defensive captain, gets special mention for sustaining two injuries prior to the match, and then being hit in the ear by a powerful punt upfield (another reason not to hoof the ball upfield is that you don’t knock your own player’s block off!).  Jack Florea also deserves a shout out.  Most notably, when he was our last defender, with the Alyth Red horde chasing directly at him, he calmly stuck to his task and cleared the ball to touch, all by himself.  What a superb bit of defensive play!

We played a loose 3-2-1-1 system today, with the team & subs shifting every 10-15 minutes.  Our goal came just after half time. A fiery tackle led to a free kick just outside the box.  Sam Mocatta left the ball for Adam to hit, generously and wisely, as Adam hit a belter into the top-left corner with the aid of the crossbar. An outstanding strike.

Alyth Red tried to hit back quickly, and before too long our goalie of the moment, Daniel Tyler, was forced into a string of saves, punching, clawing and catching the ball when it was coming to him at speed. When Dan was replaced by Sam Mocatta, Sam continued with a string of saves.

The Red’s only goal came during one of the few moments when we lost our shape.  We had 2 men at the back, with our 3rd defender and midfielders clustered together near the opposition area.  When the Reds broke out, their outstanding player shot from distance, and though our keeper got hands to the ball, it crept into our net regardless.

So, overall, a tough and hard-fought game. We did a super job of passing to each other, which I again applaud the boys for. Our next area of improvement is to keep our shape better, and perhaps to learn to adjust our roles from being attackers to defenders.