Hendon manager David Garbacz hailed the performance of his goalkeeper Russell Corin after he pulled off three superb saves in a penalty shoot-out to see them to their first silverware of the season.
Peter Morrison Trophy Final
Hendon United A 2 Oakwood A 2 (AET – Hendon won 3-1 on penalties)
Sunday, 27 April, 2014
Full of praise for Corin’s heroics in the shoot-out which saw him pull off three stops, he said: “Russell was of course different class. I thought his save from their first kick in particular was one of the best I’ve ever seen at this level. He made the other two look easy and we love him.
“Russell exuded confidence and we were feeling very focused. Whilst it was uncomfortable going into the shoot-out, I never doubted it was to be our day. We practised penalties in training. We knew who had the best techniques and temperament in that situation, and also knew pretty much where Josh Bentley was going to put his from his years at the club.
“But the belief and experience in our team in priceless. Rather than have any stewards inquiries into the late equaliser, we were focused on the penalties and the nominated takers were all available to take and were very confident.”
In what proved to be a thrilling encounter at Wingate & Finchley FC, Hendon, in search of a league and cup treble, were pushed all the way by a spirited Oakwood side, only prevailing at the end through the lottery of the spot-kicks.
Oakwood, who went into the tie as underdogs, started the brighter of the two and came agonisingly close to opening the scoring when Bradley Wine saw his toe-poked effort strike the post. Hendon responded, mostly through set-pieces, though Greg Corin did also blaze over when put clean through.
Hendon’s pressure finally told when Yoav Lebens headed home past Dan Cohen in the O’s goal, and by finishing the half stronger, looked to be on course for a routine win.
However, that all changed 90 seconds after the restart when Bobby Cousins headed Oakwood level from a corner of their own.
Hendon came again, as they looked to pile on the pressure, though Cohen in the O’s goal, was equal to anything thrown at him.
Level after 90 minutes, Hendon did manage to get themselves back in front when Avidan Last bundled the ball home, and that seemed to be enough as the game entered the last minute. But with just seconds of the 120 minutes left, a long ball forward found its way to Jonny Quinn, and he lifted the ball over Corin to set off wild scenes of celebration for the Oakwood supporters.
However, given a reprieve, Quinn was superbly denied by Corin from the first spot-kick, and when Ari Last converted Hendon’s first they always seemed to be in control. Former Hendon player Josh Bentley was the next to be denied by Corin, before Avi Korman stepped up to put them 2-0 up. Carl Peters did then convert for Oakwood, but when Lebens confidently dispatched his effort, Corin pulled off his third stop to deny Wine, leaving Hendon to celebrate what they will hope to be the first of three trophies.
Reflecting back on the game, Garbacz said: “Oakwood gave us a tougher game than we were expecting. We knew they would be hard to break down and they set themselves up accordingly. We felt we had weathered the early storm well and had taken control of the game by half-time, but the equaliser put us massively out of our stride and we could not regain control in the second half. “Overall it was very tight but I felt that we were the team who wanted to win it more in the actual playing time, whilst Oakwood seemed content to try to catch us on the break or take it into penalties. For this reason I believe we just about deserved to win.”
And confident they can now go on to claim a glorious treble, especially after saying this match would provide them with their biggest obstacle in achieving that, said: “I stand by that comment. Oakwood are a nightmare to play against and the stop start nature of the second half walked straight into their hands. I thought the referee could have let the game flow just a bit more but overall he did well in difficult circumstances.
“Next week will be a totally different match – I think more football will be played on the deck by both teams which could suit us better. Saying that we all know that it will be match decided by fine margins with a bit of edge involved and Norstar will be doing everything to stop us . On paper there is not a lot between the teams but we are a juggernaut who will not accept defeat. We are on the brink of history but we still have a massive hurdle to overcome . With the greatest of respect to Oakwood who were magnificent this is the game the Jewish world wants to see.”
Oakwood joint-player-manager Ric Blank was crestfallen at the loss, saying: “I’m devastated to lose a game we didn’t deserve to lose. At 1-1 there was only one winner. All Hendon had were set-pieces and long ball, which we were comfortable with. We’d adapted to Sam [Jacobson] going off injured and were looking solid. It was an incredibly even game and chances were at a premium and with Brad Wine and Josh Rose linking well we looked the more likely winners. We had a bigger, fitter squad and I couldn’t see us losing.”
Knowing how important the first goal in the match could have been, he said: “We wanted to score first. We battered them in that opening ten minutes and I thought we might settle the issue there and then. When Brad’s shot cannoned off the post it was a big moment, there’d have been no catching us if we’d scored first.”
And having seen his side twice fight back from going a goal behind, including netting a 119th minute equaliser – he admitted he thought it was going to be their day. “Absolutely I did,” he said. “Only at Russell’s first save did I think we might not win.
“We practiced penalties on Wednesday night, Quinny’s was a good one, but was denied by a brilliant save and I think that spooked the boys. They knew their penalty had to be amazing to score and it made a difference. Bentley’s was another good save and Carl slammed his down the middle. Brad’s was a tired effort but the game was probably up by then.”
However, hoping to finish off the season on a high, and then go again next season, he said: “We’re now just focusing on the Lions game and getting back on the bike. We’re walking wounded but welcome back Guy and Kossy. It’s amazing to think those two weren’t there, Levine was injured, Jacobson went off after 30 minutes and we still should have won the game.
“Without question we’re developing the strongest squad in the MSFL and we’ll be challenging for major honours next season.”