SPECWEB

SPEC are looking to secure a third consecutive promotion

Ahead of the start of the new season, we continue our countdown to the big kick-off by previewing Division One…

Shirley Park manager David Lusman believes his side can win the title – but they aren’t alone. He says: “I think there are at least two or three teams in division one capable of finishing first and we’re one of them. We’re well equipped for the title this season and that’s the team’s target.”

With pre-season having gone “very well”, he says: “We’ve warmed up with wins against Brixton, Camden and Bilbaum, however we have yet to field our first choice team due to other commitments.  With a full strength squad available it will be interesting to see how we fare.

“We’ve been playing football together for years, with plenty of original faces from when the team was formed. On top of that we’ve added quality to the squad year on year – as we’ve done this year.

“Gideon Gold and Saul Conway are on fire and injury free, Jamie Kent’s a goal machine, while Jason Lindsey is our special one.”

Aryeh Goldring wants to see his Hendon B team also challenging for league honours. He said: “We’ll be looking at a title push, with promotion being our minimum aim. Preparations have been ok, though with a lot of new players coming in, we’re yet to play a settled side.”

Saying the fact they always score goals is one of the team’s strengths, he does though concede: “We will need to work hard on fitness and being a bit more defensively solid throughout the team. Gav Noe is though looking very fit and sharp, while Jake Lewis is definitely one to watch.”

SPEC’s James Lesner says his side are going all out for a third-consecutive promotion. He said: “We’re gunning for it in order to get us where we deserve to be – the premier division. We’ve strengthened over the summer and have experience on our side.”

Strategic in their build-up to the campaign, he said: “We purposely chosen to pit our wits against some very good opposition including a couple of premier league sides and have displayed some encouraging signs. Our training sessions have been intense, but fun, with the customary ‘egg game’ proving again to be an instant unifier.

“Togetherness, grit, tenacity with a sprinkle of flair thrown in will be our key strengths, while James Segal will be our man to watch.”

Chigwell player-manager Richard Slater says he wants to see his side challenging at the top end of the table. He said: “If we keep the majority of our players fit and playing week in week out, I’d expect us to be challenging for sure. As per the last three seasons in this division, we’ve been within the breakaway top four to five clubs who all have a chance of winning it. But as I always say, enjoyment is the key.”

Happy with the build-up to the season, he says: “Pre-season has gone as planned. We’ve had some good sessions plus and I’ve put the lads through their paces with midweek games against Jewish and non-Jewish clubs. Three games in six days was a test for us in early August, but our five new signings have bedded in really well, so I think we’ll be ready to go.

“We’ve added Steve Summers, Craig Sandford and Hadley Silver into our final third, which will make our attacking options and strength in depth this season the best in five years.”

Adam Hersh says he wants to see his Los Blancos team aim as high possible, saying at worst he wants to see them solidify themselves as a Division One team. “Obviously this season is going to be much tougher than last with many strong teams,” he says, “so realistically I think mid-table is where we will be at least satisfied with.”

With a handful of friendly matches and training sessions under their belt, he says: “I feel we’re going into the season pretty well prepared. We’ve missed a number of regulars in pre-season, but they’re slowly returning and will hopefully all be back by the start.

“We all play and work hard for each other, which in turn enhances everyone’s performance. We’ve made a number of new signings including top goalkeeper Nick Grosse and Darren Russell from Raiders. We’ve also landed a big name in James Joseph from Hendon B, on top of the top players we already in the squad including newly crowned captain Adam Waters.”

Southgate Harmen are this season being co-managed by Sam Castle and Joel Alterman. Castle says: “With a mix of the Harmen old guard, consisting of Jon Morris, Adam Velleman, James Sandler, Marc Cohen, Adam Osper, Brad Fox, Sam Castle and Jimmy Castle – and a mix of new, very talented young blood, promotion is a minimum expectation, with the league title our end goal. We would also like a good cup run to complement our league performances.”

A solid pre-season starting at the beginning of July, sessions have seen more than 20 players attend. “We’ve got our fitness levels up and had four pre-season friendlies to date,” he says. “The squad has bonded well and everyone is working towards the same goals. The boys cannot wait to get their new boots laced up and hit the ground running on 8 September.

“Our squad this season is one of the strongest Division One teams we have seen in years. With a squad of 18 we have strength in depth in all positions. Our spine of the team is very strong. There is competition for all places but we have the most competition at centre back and in the middle of the park. With the flare of our wide players; Jordan Grant, Ricky Rinder, Lee Greenfield and Matt Geppert, we will be a tough test for anyone this season.”

And in terms of names to look out for, he says: “Joel Alterman, returning to the game after an eight-year absence making a huge managerial debut and some of our new signing will be names to look out for. I expect Ben Weinberg, Joe Marsh, Jordan Grant, Jordan Segal and Ricky Rinder to set the league alight. As well as the young Mitchell Green at centre back, he will give nothing away to the very best strikers in the league. Lee Greenfield and Sam Castle will give sleepless Saturday nights to the very best defensive lines in the league. James Castle, fresh from the Maccabiah games will be a rock in goal as he was last season.

“Finally a big thank you to London and District who are our new kit sponsors for the forthcoming season.”

There have been changes aplenty at North West Neasden with Joshua Tiano taking over as chairman, who together with Steven Murad, have appointed Andrew Goldman as manager.

Tiano says: “When approached to take over the club on the brink of folding, it was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. Neasden has a long and successful history in the MSFL and it would have be a real loss to the league and Jewish football for it to have folded.

“We have assembled a strong squad so far, and aim to challenge for promotion this season. Pre-season training has started well, having drawn 2-2 against SPEC, beat Raider C 6-0 and AC Mill Hill 4-1, there are numerous encouraging signs. Our squad is made up of mainly young players, with a few experienced heads among them with competition rife all over the pitch.

“I am of the belief we have strength and depth throughout we will be hard to stop up front having signed the lethal trio of Kane Gilbery, Shai Davidi and Daniel Orgel, who possesses, pace, power and lethal finishing!

“As you can imagine with the squad on its last legs, we have signed no fewer than 15 new players from all over the MSFL having signed players from Brixton (Danny Sherman) and a few from Temple Fortune including captain Jimmy Lee and Michael Goldberg, with the classy Michael Field staying on from last season.”

Goldman said: “I’m buzzing as our squad is taking shape nicely! I’m sure any other manager in this league would like to have the amount of match winners in the squad as we do! There is no doubting we have the ability to win this league and believe that with the right attitude, determination and a bit of luck, we can bring Neasden back to their former glory days!”

Brady Maccabi B player-manager Josh Dagul says he expects his side to be challenging for the title. He says: “Every team will go into the season with the hopes of winning the league so I don’t expect ours to be any different.

“We’ve added a few to the squad whilst still retaining the core that has served us so well over the last two years. We’ve never been a squad of individuals but I’m confident our new signings will have a big impact on  league this year.”

Citing Josh Newman, Daniel Harrod and Reiss Mogilner as the main players to watch, he says his team will bring “flair and the desire to succeed” to the league, “but  more importantly commitment to the beautiful game.”

Brixton Old Boys and Woodford Wanderers complete the line-up.