A Cup Final is a big day for anyone, but for an Under 9 team protected by the FA from having its weekly scores published in a League table, the chance to play in a Cup Final is an even bigger event, a special day, and a chance to pick up a medal and maybe a trophy.
And that’s how it was for Hendon United Red and Hendon United White in an enthralling Under 9 local-derby Cup Final match at The Hive on Sunday. Adding to the drama was the fact that these two teams (from the same HIS club), both consistently solid throughout the season, have played two very close matches this season, the most memorable producing a 7-6 score line with a dramatic goal in the dying minutes to clinch the game.
This Sunday’s final didn’t produce the same double-digit goal fest as earlier games, but did provide as tense and nervy a watching experience for the very large crowd of friends and family pressed up against the Hive’s caged-off viewing area.
The first half ended goalless, although the woodwork was rattled at both ends on at least four occasions, and the half-time score might easily have been in favour of HU Red had it not been for the cross bar and the HU White goalie, Daniel Neville, courageously coming off his line on several occasions to narrow the angle. HU Red forwards played a strong first half, but were matched in persistence by the dogged HU White defenders Akiva Ehreich, Sam Brodie, Ami Jacobs and Tani Pfeffer, all putting in disciplined and gritty performances.
The deadlock was finally broken with a superbly taken goal by Hendon United White winger Mikey Selby, following some superb linking play by team mate Rafi Cohen. This must have relaxed the Whites who seemed to pick up their pace with a second goal a few minutes later by centre forward Yona King, with Rafi Barnet in support. At 2-0 down, the Reds put on the pressure and came close to clawing one back from a corner with three minutes to go. The Whites managed to hold on to their lead for the remaining nerve-wracking minutes to win their first Cup Final.
Joint-managers Jamie King and Harel van Dijk (with special-guest manager for-the-day, nine-year-old player Noah van Dijk who missed the game due to a broken hand) said: “Every boy played their hearts out with a hunger to win that has seen them play so consistently all season.”
Hendon United White team:
Goalkeeper: Daniel Neville
Defenders: Ami Jacobs, Sam Brodie, Akiva Ehreich, Noah van Dijk, and Tani Pfeffer
Forwards: Yona King, Mikey Selby, Rafi Cohen and Rafi Barnet