Sunday afternoon saw Alyth Belsize’s various club sides take part in JNMJFL action…
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11:
Alyth Belsize Red 1 Hendon United Blue 2
The day didn’t start well, I knew that when I realised that the half-time fruit was sitting nicely chilled in our refrigerator back home in Palmers Green. Thank you to Laura and Gillian for their trip to Asda!
Well, all good runs will eventually come to an end, and today our good run came to an end.
The bare facts are that we lost to the second-best team in the league, who were playing with eight against our nine and played out of their skins. As I said after the game, I think they just wanted it more. As reigning champions we have got used to turning up and, well, winning. Football doesn’t care about records and if nothing else we need to remember how it feels to lose – it’s not very nice and I hope it will be the only time we experience it this season. What we must learn from this is where we can improve, both as a team and individually. Not so much for this season, but for next season when we play in the Watford Friendly League.
There were some positives. Jake Brass made some very important saves, particularly when we were pushing hard for an equaliser. As a team we never gave up. When we did pass the ball quickly we looked like the quality team we are. We tackled back hard and battled for every ball.
We scored a spectacular goal. Max Cutner, from outside of the area, brought the ball under control and on the half-volley fired in our only goal right into the top left hand corner of the Hendon net.
A good observation made by Philip Brass (former ‘most improved parent’) from the sidelines was that the Hendon Blue manager knows our boys very well from our many previous battles on the pitch and played a shrewd tactical game by man-marking Lior Solomons Wise and giving our midfield of Max, Lior and Rudy Berman little space to play their usual skilful game. So I need to accept some of the responsibility for the loss – maybe I was too complacent in thinking we could just play our ‘usual’ game.
Now some good news… We play Hendon Blue again next week in the cup, and this time we will be after them! We need to ensure we are not over-run in midfield. Narrow up when we need to, spread out when we can.
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11:
Brady Maccabi 1 Alyth Belsize Black 5
We went into this match having had two tough games against Brady, we were missing our normal reluctant striker, and then agreed to a request to play 8-a-side. I thought it might be a tough afternoon but, led by Sammy Kebede, who had his best ever match for the team, we romped home 5-1 winners.
Lots of good performances today, Ely Tiefenbrun took on the mantle of reluctant striker and still managed to score, Jamie Richardson gave an energetic performance capped off with a goal, while Chopper managed to reduce the size of Brady’s team even further with a typical robust challenge! I also thought Aran Haber, Ash Fraiman, Sam Cohen and Jacob Inwald played well but Sammy Kebede was the star of the show. He ran through the opposing team a number of times showing great skill, and his work rate was exceptional; his hat-trick was as deserved as his MOTM award this week.
Next week we have HMH Tel Aviv in the Cup (minor) – they are in division 2 now but gave us a tough game earlier in the season. The week after is Hendon Blue… It’s very close at the top – we are 5 points behind the leaders, Alyth Belsize Red.
We did manage to do some business in the January transfer window; however, the paperwork did not get sorted in time for the weekend. Having strengthened the first team I am now calling for a late title challenge!
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U10 Cup Semi-Final:
Alyth Belsize 3 Hendon United White 5
It was always going to be a big ask to knock the league leaders out of the cup with two of our key players missing (Nadav Jacobs and Jamie Isaacs) but even so we were not a million miles away and played our part in a very entertaining semi final, giving Hendon a real scare towards the closing minutes of the game. We showed a lot of heart and character to come back from 4-1 down, and came close to taking the match into extra time; but, in the end they managed to score the goal which secured their place in the final, which on balance they probably deserved. This was our first defeat since late October and ended a fantastic run of seven wins on the trot in all competitions.
The first half was pretty even and we started it very well, closing down Hendon’s early attempts to run in behind our back three of Adam Tyler, Oli Wiener and Leo Morad, who were solid and disciplined. Going forward we showed some early signs we might get some joy against their defence, which seemed a bit shaky. Jake Shindler in particular looked very lively up front in the early exchanges, linking up well with Jonah Rose and Harry Leibling-Blitz and creating a few problems, one of which opened the scoring 5-6 minutes into the match when Jonah easily skipped over his marker on the right, had time to look up and found Jake Shindler unmarked in the box. Jake’s effort was knocked in by the keeper, off his own defender, but we would rather award Jake of course with his fouth of the season! A surprising 1-0.
This early boost was very nearly wiped out a minute later when a cross played into our box was headed back (Adam?) towards our goal but luckily ended up on the roof of the net. Minutes later we had a great chance to go two up when we were awarded a free-kick right outside the HIS box in a great position, but Jonah’s low drive – which did beat the wall – was blocked well by one of their defenders.
The Whites were looking for an equaliser and after two speculative attempts from distance that found a confident, alert Ethan Zybutz in goal, in came a cross from the left which was headed out but not far enough and an HIS striker volleyed it rather impressively into the top left corner, Ethan no chance, 1-1.
Till the end of the half both teams had their chances, though Ethan was the one goalie tested more and had to pull at least one super save from a long-range wonder strike that was making its way to the top left corner. On the other side Ben Rosenberg came close showing good technique on the half-volley to go with his unique leisurely style of play, and then was just a couple of yards short of pace to get on the end of a fabulous through-ball by Gemma Selby, which would have seen him one-on-one with the HIS keeper, who beat him to it.
We did okay in the first few minutes of the second half despite some early pressure from the league leaders, but then came four-five minutes where we totally lost our concentration and shape, which essentially cost us the game.
It started with a VERY unlucky own goal headed in by Adam, who bravely stuck his head onto a cross coming in from the right. Could have been avoided by a call from Ethan, who was going to catch this ball anyway, but those mistakes happen to Premier League defences as well. The problem was this was then followed by us completely switching off for two-three minutes and we got punished twice more very quickly giving away two super soft goals, which left us with a mountain to climb and staring at a possible heavier defeat even with more than 13 minutes left to play.
Once again, however, we showed we are made of stern stuff and respond well to adversity. We managed to get a goal back courtesy of Ben Rosenberg, who was on the end of a nice cross from Harry on the left and again on the half-volley managed to guide the ball into the back of the net and give us a lifeline to hold on to. Well done Ben.
The unlikely revival was now on and we tried to push for another goal. Gemma had a fantastic effort/clearance from around the half-way line flying into the bottom corner, which was just saved by their keeper! Then Ethan released one of his super long goal kick distributions, which bounced over the HIS defender and found the quick and cunning Jake Shindler, who lashed onto the ball and headed it home from close-range for his second of the match and fifth of the season, 4-3! Game very much on!
With a few minutes to play it was proper ‘kitchen sink’ time where we tried to throw many bodies up front to get that equaliser but obviously were left very open at the back. We got away with it a few times, most notably an HIS assault on our goal which took about six-seven goalline tackles from Ethan, Adam, Gemma and Oli to somehow keep the ball out, quite extraordinary stuff! At the other end we had a very good chance when Adam managed to break with the ball on the right, was tackled, but then the ball fell kindly for him right on the edge of the HIS box, he shot it well enough but their goalie pulled a good stop to make sure the tie did not go into extra time. This was then sealed when our now very light defence was cut open to make it 5-3 HIS, game over.
Very brave performance from the Reds and great footballing entertainment, well played everyone!
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8 Cup Semi-Final:
Alyth Belsize vs NWLJ
Alyth Belsize Black tasted defeat for the first time today, against an organised and resolute NW London Jets. As well as a bad result, the match was also notable for a nasty atmosphere, with discipline problems between players on the rival team. Disappointingly, we had some indiscipline in our own team too, both active (blaming team-mates for errors) and passive (not paying attention to the game). We will be contacting parents of the boys concerned directly as we will have to take disciplinary action.
As for the football, some of the blame has to come to me. I asked the boys to try to play more of a passing game, and to play with two wingers. It was the first time we’ve tried to play with out and out wingers, and it was possibly the wrong thing to do at this time. But credit to Oscar Russell, Noah Shapiro, Tyler Richards and Jack Kanareck in particular for doing a good job in passing the ball more than they’ve done before. I was particularly pleased to see some patient passing back to our defenders.
However, once we went behind mid-way through the first half, we didn’t do so well. We lost our shape. Defenders didn’t play in a line. Individuals in midfield and attack all chased the ball in a pack, meaning there was no one in space to receive the ball. When we did get the ball we shot too early – all of us trying to do too much.
Today also highlighted a few tactical areas that need some work in mid-week coaching. For instance, when we took throw-ins, our boys stood still and let the Jets stand between them and the ball.
In the second half, we adopted a 1-3-2 formation, which meant we had a lot of possession, mostly in their half. It meant that we were open to the counter-attack, and I’d like to thank Oscar and Jack Florea for some very resolute tackling and clearances, without which we’d be several more goals down.
We had tears and frustration but please tell the boys that they should hold their heads up, and focus on the Next Game. We’ll all feel better once the next match begins.
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8 Cup Semi-Final:
Alyth Belsize vs Hendon United Red
This match was not the best I’ve seen our boys play, but we were up against a very strong team and we were missing some of our strongest, and most experienced, players. We did welcome Jaren Ziegler, our latest signing. He is strong and fast, but needs some time to get to know his new team mates.
As a general observation, we weren’t great at looking up and passing intelligently to our own players. Too often during this game we gained possession of the ball, only to lose it to one of our opposition. This is partly because our positioning wasn’t at its best; there were times when we were bunching and times when there just wasn’t a player to support one of our midfielders with the ball. I know our players are only 7 and 8-years-old, but it still amazes me that one week the passing and finishing is so on target, and the next it just isn’t. C’est la vie!! But, as I said, Hendon Red are a very strong team and on the whole were able to gain possession of the ball and control the game. The score would’ve been very different if it wasn’t for Raffi Goodman, the Green Lantern, making numerous saves.
Man-of-the-Match goes to Gabriel Broll this week. As striker, he didn’t get much action, but he really ran his heart out as left midfield, making some good passes and tackles.
Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U7:
The U7s arrived at the Hive with much excitement ready for their first tournament, the ‘mystery competition’!
Our first ten-minute game saw us drawn against one of the stronger U7 teams, Hendon United Red. We lined up with Ely Boyd in goal, Harry Abrahams in defence, Jonah Phillips and Sam Gatty in midfield and Ami Morad up front. We started brightly with Jonah having a nice attempt at goal, which was followed by an attempt at the other end of the pitch from Hendon that was cleared by Harry for a corner, which thankfully came to nothing. We looked like we were holding on for a goalless draw but then with about two minutes to go a lovely chip from the Hendon striker went over Ely’s outstretched fingertips and into the goal. This left Ely distraught so we made a double substitution bringing on Zoe Cutner in place of Jonah, who had hurt his knee in a tussle, and new signing Noah Oakley in goal. With seconds left on the clock Hendon attacked again and despite a fantastic dive from Noah across the face of his goal, the ball sped into the far corner, just as the final whistle blew.
Our opponents in the second match were HMH Eilat. This time we started with Rafi Rosenfield in goal, Zoe in defence, Sam and Noah in midfield and Austin up front. The game started very quickly and poor Rafi was still struggling to get his goalie gloves on when the ball came flying past him into the net! Not the best of starts but we picked ourselves up and piled on the pressure. This paid off when Noah scored shortly after – a goal on his debut, hopefully the first of many! At 1-1 we knew all was to play for and we attacked HMH’s goal, with a fine effort from Sam saved and another just wide. Sadly, we couldn’t keep hold of the ball and a shot on target from Eilat was palmed out by Rafi, only to be booted back in on the rebound to see HMH take all the points from the game.
After a 30-minute break we came back on the pitch to play HMH Haifa. We mixed the squad round again to give everyone a chance to play different positions but in truth there was not much excitement in this game. Neither goalkeeper was challenged, with all the action taking place in a midfield battle. Shortly before time we made some substitutions hoping to steal a last-minute goal but it wasn’t to be and the game ended goal-less.
Our last match saw us line up against HMH Tel Aviv – classmates of some of our players. We had suffered a heavy defeat at their hands earlier in the season and were determined not to have a repeat of that. As it was our last game we decided to let everyone play, and split the squad into two groups of four with each group playing exactly 5 minutes. Zoe bravely volunteered to go in goal for the match. Our first foursome of Jonah, Austin, Ely and Harry started brightly but caved in under the pressure and were unable to clear a ball from the box and eventually it trickled under Zoe’s gloves and through her legs into the goal! They were ecstatic, we were determined not to let it happen again. Shortly after, the ball came fizzing towards our goal again but this time Zoe palmed it well round the post and out for a corner, which came to nothing. As the game played on Zoe continued to have a great game in goal and kept us in the match with a couple more great saves. On the stroke of ‘half time’ we replaced the whole outfield with Rafi, Noah, Ami and Sam full of energy and on the attack. As the minutes ticked by, the tension mounted until finally Sam found himself in front of goal with a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Just as his boot was about to kick the ball…the whistle went for full time. The disappointment was huge and despite some questions regarding whether a full ten minutes had actually been played the score line stood.
Overall, despite not winning many matches I don’t think we actually performed that badly. Of course we need to work on our positioning and our passing, but after watching the other teams these are not improvements that apply only to us – I’m sure we’ll have it sussed by the time we reach U11!