Redbridge A manager Jon Jacobs said he was proud of his side, despite seeing them beaten 4-3 by Hendon which deprived them of the Premier Division title – and handed it to Oakwood.

MGBSFL Premier Division:
Hendon United A 4 Redbridge Jewish Care A 3
Sunday, 7 May, 2017

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Needing to beat Hendon to pip Oakwood to the title by a point, the odds were seemingly stacked in their favour, having beaten David Garbacz’s side 6-0 only a few weeks ago.

However, the home side plainly didn’t read the script, as Avi Korman’s penalty and Zac Lewis’ strike gave them a 2-1 halftime lead, scored either side of Zac Neiman’s equaliser.

Redbridge, did as Jacobs said, have their hands on the title for 60 seconds – after Steve Summers and Sam Sollosi scored twice in two minutes to put them 3-2 up, but Josh Harris’ strike less than a minute later, coupled by Yoav Kestenbaum’s late goal, wrapped up a dramatic 4-3 win.

Jacobs said: “I’m really proud of the boys. They challenged for two trophies, but have just come up a little short at the end, I’m just so disappointed for them all.”

Insisting nerves didn’t play a part in their loss, he added: “Not really, we played a very good Hendon side who were probably as good a team as we have faced all season. We needed to be at our best but probably came up a little short today, but no excuses.”

Feeling conceding the lead to Hendon, less than a minute after getting themselves in front, was pivotal, he said: “We had the League won for 60 seconds, we needed to keep our shape but just switched off and conceded a sloppy equaliser which knocked us right back.
“The game was an even game and don’t really think either team deserved to win, we didn’t play the style of football that has served us so well all season, but it doesn’t deflect from how disappointing the ending of our season has become.”

Reflecting back on the season, he added: “I think it shows that there are several good teams in the Maccabi League all capable of beating each other. We lost the League with disappointing performances against Lions and Camden, but we will regroup as a club and be up there again challenging next season.”

Also praising Oakwood for their title win, he said: “I would like to congratulate Dan Kristall and his Oakwood squad for winning the League, the table doesn’t lie and they have won the League fair and square.”

Explaining what he felt was the difference in his side’s performance, Garbacz said: “We were decimated with injuries in the first game, had no substitutes, and three of our 11 players were 25 percent fit at the time of playing at the most. The 3G pitch then was atrocious and not up to standard.

“Today we felt we had a point to prove – it hurt getting beaten by that score and we were determined to prove we are still a force to be reckoned with in this league despite falling away recently. To us it made no difference who won the league, it was not a case of wanting Oakwood more than Redbridge – we had our own agenda, to end the season on a high and to put in a strong last performance. I was absolutely delighted with both the quality and the commitment we put in today. “

Admitting with Jacobs that he didn’t feel nerves played a part in their defeat, he said: “Redbridge are a superb team, but they do have a tendency to self-implode if things are not going their way – I don’t think it was a case of nerves, more a case of us not letting them get into much of a stride – eventually they had to chase the game as they needed the win – the game was a classic though, as it usually is when we play each other and the end to end nature was a joy to watch. “

Reflecting back on his own side’s season, which has resulted in no silverware – and confirming he will be stepping down this summer, he said: “For the first half of our season we swept all before us and looked like we could be on for another treble – we then lost a game we should never have lost to Lions Masters in the Morrison and this really knocked our confidence.

“We were missing key players like Russell Corin and Avi Korman in the big league games vs Oakwood and all of a sudden, our squad was stretched with a load of injuries as well at a crucial time – we lost confidence and fell away badly and this is the first season since I’ve been manager that we haven’t made at least one final or come minimum runners up in the league. It therefore has to be summed up as overall disappointing, but it was good to end on a high today.

“Yesterday was my final game – I’m handing over the reins – no U-turns like last year although who knows what the future may hold! I’m hoping Greg Corin, with maybe one other takeover but we’ll see. I’ve loved every minute – it’s been an honour and a pleasure both to manage all these great players and win the trophies but also to pit our wits against the other managers down the years. I’ll miss it badly.”

And, finally, looking to take the opportunity to wish Oakwood his congratulations on their title win, he said: “The league table doesn’t lie – they are champions and deserve it – they have had the best defence and have probably wanted it the most and they need to be hugely congratulated on a brilliant year – so often the bridesmaid – now at last the bride.

“I actually believe man-for -man probably Redbridge and ourselves are better, but as a unit they were the best and deserve the plaudits.”

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