Alyth Belsize junior club round-up:

Alyth Belsize junior club round-up:

Justin Cohen is the News Editor at the Jewish News

Alyth U10’s

Sunday afternoon saw Alyth Belsize’s various club sides take part in JNMJFL action…

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11:
Alyth Belsize Black 3 HMH Tel Aviv 0

It was like Spurs in 1981 – our two new signings inspired us to a 3-0 win and the dream of playing under the arches at Wembley is still alive!

We played well today against a team we have really struggled to break down this season (+ last) – in fact if it wasn’t for inspired defending by HMH, the game would have been over by half-time.

Our two debutants, Sacha Brozel and Ethan Cohn, certainly made a great impression on the team – Sacha has energy and a presence in the midfield where he forged a good partnership with Sammy Kebede. The midfield is where we won the game today and he played a pivotal part.

Sam B got into good positions today and showed great energy up and down the wing, not to mention scoring two goals.

There were good performances from the whole team today with special mention to Jamie Richardson, whom I though played well in about 4 different positions.

Man of the Match has to be Sam B

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11:
Alyth Belsize Red 4 Hendon United Blue 0

After the loss of our first league game in three years the last thing we wanted as a team was to see headlines in the Jewish News the following week stating that for the first time in three years Alyth Belsize Reds had lost a cup match too! As is often the case in this crazy world of football, we were pitted against Hendon United Blue for the second week in a row, the team that had beaten us 2-1 a week earlier, but this time in the semi-final of the Maccabi Cup. Would this prove to be a good thing or a bad thing…?

So, with a couple of last-minute alterations to the team, and a strategy on hand to ensure we were not to lose two in a row, we trotted out to commence battle against a team that was high on confidence having taken a famous victory only seven days earlier.

I was interested to see what our boys’ reaction would be. Would they feel the pressure, would they play with a lack of belief and confidence…? Well, as many of you witnessed they most certainly did not! They were truly magnificent. They played out of their skins, determined to reclaim the bragging rights and show Hendon that they are not a team to roll over.

I changed the starting line a little, pushing Eden Cohen into a midfield role, which allowed Lior Solomons Wise to play with a little more freedom. We set out a bit deeper in defence, looking for a controlled and highly organised defensive line with speed to boot; Eli Jay and Asher Hayes seamlessly fitted the bill, particularly as last week we had played a little too far forward and were caught with the ball over the top on more than one occasion. The slight change to our usual positions seemed to do the trick because with just three minutes on the clock Eden fired in our opener from just outside the Hendon box. Unstoppable, and the perfect start to settle any nerves (parents’, that is!). We continued to dominate, spreading the ball left and right, while any balls over the top were dealt with comfortably by our outstanding defensive partnership.

Midway through the first half, the boys of Alyth Belsize won another corner. Max Cutner strode up to ping one into the box. I think Hendon were so concerned about the aerial threat from Eden, Alex Godfrey, Eli and Lior, that they didn’t count on a sneaky cross-cum-shot from Max that curled in and beat their goalkeeper at his near post. 2–0 and we were looking good!

We were caught out once in the first half, a close decision on an offside that went in favour of Hendon and they were momentarily through, one-on-one with just our keeper Jake Brass to beat…a goal now would have been totally against the run of play and would have put the Blues right back in the game. But Jake stood tall and saved the point-blank shot with his feet. A fantastic stop. Half-time came too soon for our team and as a relief for Hendon.

We continued the second half as we finished the first. Switching the ball effortlessly from left to right. I interchanged Ben Hurst, Alex and Joe Nissim this week, each getting the chance to play on the left side of midfield and each playing very well. All three showed some nice touches and an impressive display by Joe did not go unnoticed.

Amazingly we did not put the game to bed until five minutes from time. Max sprayed a searching ball from defence to attack finding Rudy Berman, full of running and skilful enough to see, and find, the slide-rule pass of the match (oh it’s cliché bingo heaven!) to a galloping Lior in acres of space on the left. One touch to control and goal! 3-0 and no more than we deserved. But we were not finished quite yet. This time a ball played from our terrier upfront Zac Paul found Lior, who saw Eden charging upfield – he in turn struck it with power and accuracy to finish Hendon off once and for all.

A truly entertaining game, in which the boys were determined to reverse the result from the week before. I have never seen us head the ball so often and effectively! Each and every one of them contributed to a convincing win. Well played Alyth Belsize Reds, on to the final – a repeat of last year’s final against the Reds of Hendon.

Maybe losing a game once every three years is not such a bad thing after all…!?

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U10:
Alyth Belsize Black 1 HMH Eilat 0

A tense 1-0 win in a game we could and should have won by more. At least, unlike the last time we played them, we did not concede and therefore eked out a win and two points.

A lack of pre-match practice due to an over-running prior game almost cost us as we were caught short straight from the kick-off with their striker going straight through our midfield and defence and, with the goal at his mercy, managed only to hit the post – an immense let-off.

From there, we got into our stride and some lovely interchanges between Nadav Jacobs, Jonah Rose and Jamie Isaacs created half-chances which we could not quite take. A combination of last-ditch tackling which halted Jamie as he was about to shoot and a fine save from a long-range Nadav drive kept us out. When we did get a clear shooting position, we rushed our shots with Jake Shindler sending one wide and Jonah’s free-kicks and corners not quite there.

At the other end, Adam Tyler, heroically keeping goal for the whole game in the absence of our usual keepers, looked assured. Adam has earned the right to choose whether he wants to keep goal for the rest of the season – thank you Adam! The defenders also got to grips with HMH’s two strikers (both wearing number 4 to confuse the manager shouting instructions!), realising that they were not going to get beaten for pace and timing their challenges well. Half-time 0-0.

During the half-time team talk, we discussed keeping up the pressure, not making silly mistakes and being composed in front of goal. Well two out of three is not bad. Chance after chance came and went with their keeper making very decent stops from Jamie and Jonah and the ball not quite running for us.

Slowly, we neutralised their attacks and heaped on the pressure. There were good corners from Jacob Mellman begging to be headed in, crosses from Harry Leibling-Blitz and Jonah just evading our players, and we were beginning to fear the worst, particularly when Jamie put in his nomination for miss of the season. Finding himself one, possibly two yards out he blasted wide with the referee already putting his whistle in his mouth to signal the goal. Fair dues to Jamie Isaacs, he did not let his head drop and shortly after, following good pressure from Jacob keeping the ball alive in the box, finally bundled the ball into the goal. 1-0 to the Reds.

It was then a question of whether we could keep composed and possibly add another. We retained control and still carved out chances, but then a moment of controversy. A long kick from their keeper bounced over our midfield, Oli Weiner cleared the ball as it bounced up and it was ‘clearly’ handled by their player as he knocked the ball past Oli and placed the ball past Adam. To be fair, the referee blew immediately, we all screamed “handball” and our players stopped. However, this did not stop their manager venting his frustration with the decision but the referee stood firm! A bullet dodged. We looked like we would see the game out (but I suspect so did David Moyes…) but they forced a last-minute corner after a deflected shot went narrowly over Adam’s crossbar. First corner cleared by Jonah but only for another corner. This time, the delivery was floated dangerously into the area only to be headed wide by their player. As Adam cleared the ball to Jonah the referee blew up and our good form continues.

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8:
Alyth Belsize vs HMH Eilat (Alyth Belsize won on penalties)

The team were excited at the thought of the cup semi-final and it didn’t disappoint. Within the opening two minutes we got a penalty but unfortunately Ori hit the post. However, it wasn’t long before we took the lead and this time Ori Sapir didn’t miss. The team were then pulled back to 1-1 just before half-time.

In the second half HMH took the lead but the whites kept pushing forward and were rewarded with a second goal scored by Luke Godfrey, closely followed by Ori Sapir getting his second of the game. With only a minute to go, HMH Eilat got a third, themselves leaving the match to be resolved in a nail-biting penalty shootout, which we won with some superb finishing and great saves by Matan Goldman.

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8:
Alyth Belsize Black vs HMH Haifa

A breathless game this afternoon as the (almost) undisputed two best teams of the U8s met for the third time this season.

We were 1-0 up after a minute following an extraordinary through-ball from Ethan Cantor to Daniel Tyler, who responded with a class finish across the keeper.

Unlike previous games where HMH had played one up front, for most of this match they were quick enough on the break to have two or three to trouble our defence. Our inexperienced back-line combinations of Sam Greenspan (led the defensive line really well for his first time) Jack, Yoav Cabili and Daniel coped really well with the most talented opposing front line I’ve seen so far, but we were breached both before half-time and immediately after, despite some really impressive work from Oscar Russell as an attacking midfielder and good running from Daniel.

It was about this point that the game changed with both Ethan and Adam Gonen deciding to grab the game by the scruff of the neck and each having a handful of mazy runs and shots. Ethan Cantor scored before we had the blow of a freak bouncer that somehow trickled into the goal. Ethan Cantor managed to grab another two goals (both great finishes) to bring us level.

In addition to our hat-trick hero, Jack Kanareck was joint man-of-the-match with a standout performance in every department. Both Ethan and Jack had the vision to get back and help their defence when we were under the cosh in the second half and definitely saved goals as well as scoring them.

I must repeat an earlier comment that when our stronger players have the maturity to pass to their team and the developing players have the composure to stop for a second and think whether they need to boot it away, I really feel we can become an excellent team.

A special thank you to Adam and Oscar for taking a half in goal each. I know that neither loved it but they did so without complaint and really helped the team.

This was an excellent match between two strong teams that ended in a draw but felt more like a victory given the come-back. A pleasure to watch today.

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8:
Alyth Belsize Red vs Hendon United Green (Hendon won penalties)

Today was extremely interesting, a touch disappointing and also exciting…

Interesting: Despite our new squad size we were down to seven players and then only because Benny’s parents rearranged arrangements they had made after being told Benny was being rested, so a BIG thank you to them and Benny.

Today saw our January signing, Bo Fraiman, make his debut playing in the centre of midfield with Jaren Ziegler on the right and Didier Levenfiche on the left. David Rahamim played as an upfront anchor/striker and Benny Landeck and Dylan Margolis were our defensive duo. The Green Lantern Raffi Goodman assumed his customary position between the posts. We were also fortunate to have club coach Ivan with us too.

With our new players settling in quickly, we were much better than last week with more passing and positional sense. The defence was also much better – having Ivan barking at the players was certainly effective. Today, much of the game was played in the opposition’s third as opposed to last week when we could have set up a club house in our penalty area. Notwithstanding our possession though we didn’t threaten much; that said, neither did the opposition. Raffi pulled off one blinding save, but that was about it the whole match.

Ivan was categoric that we were the better ‘team’, but the Greens have signed some new players and it showed – they were physically strong in the challenge and tackling and our boys knew they had been in a match.

Among the notable features of today’s match was our debutant Bo, who is quick and skilful and will be a huge asset. Jaren playing today on the right brings us strength and also a generous measure of skill. When these boys become more familiar with us and we have everyone available, we are going to have one amazing attacking midfield.

Playing 7-a-side means adjusting the diamond to play two at the back. Today Benny, save for one aberration that nearly saw me admitted to Harefield, was very solid indeed and Dylan put in one of his outstanding defensive performances that he is capable of given the right err… frame of mind shall we say.

Disappointing: The match finished 0-0 and we lost 2-4 on penalties with Bo and Didier putting theirs away nicely. Being a QPR fan I am used to cup disappointments so can cope better than most, and anyway, this leads on to the ‘exciting’ point I raised earlier.

Exciting: Today, without so many players available even to choose from, we saw (i) again how we can really play football as a team and (ii) that Bo and Jaren undoubtedly bring us something extra that will lift the team and squad going forward.

Man-of-the-Match: Ivan nominated Dylan, with which suggestion I think there was universal agreement. Two moments stick out; one where he went into a challenge and left two opposition players sprawled on the ground. Another, when I was convinced the Greens were going to score at the far post after an AB Red error and he came absolutely flying in to put the ball behind.

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U7:
Alyth Belsize Belsize vs Hendon United Red

We have asked our players in the past to study ‘Match of the Day’ and attempt to emulate the professionals when they are on the pitch. Sadly this week Alyth Belsize chose to imitate Arsenal and even the lure of a winner’s medal couldn’t pull off a strong enough performance to see off our opposition, Hendon United ‘Liverpool’ Red.

We knew we were missing key players and we felt the impact almost immediately when Hendon powered through the midfield to score their first goal. The team didn’t quite know what had hit them at first but with shouts of encouragement did their best to contain the opposition. We had lined up with Jonah Phillips in goal, Zoe Cutner in defence, Rafi Rosenfield and Harry Abrahams in midfield and Ben Craig up front. In fairness, playing only 5-a-side on a large pitch relative to the size of the players is always tough and it was difficult for the players both to keep to their positions and take full advantage of the space as they just can’t run that far fast enough!

The less said about the first half the better, but after a very short but stern half-time talk, the players ran out for the second half in a slightly different line-up with Tom Dolan pulling on the gloves and goalie shirt, and Zoe and Harry swapping places.

As it was a cup game we decided we might as well throw ourselves forward and try and score a goal. Of course this left us a bit relaxed at the back and sure enough we were quickly hit by another goal from Hendon, but the Alyth Belsize players then pulled together, got the bit between their teeth and we saw a lovely move that resulted in a fine goal from Ben Craig. On the score sheet at last!

Despite wave after wave of attack we couldn’t seem to find the back of the net and the game finished with a resounding win for Hendon. However, our second-half performance was much improved and if only we could have played like that from the start the result might have been much closer. But I expect Arsene Wenger said the same thing on Saturday…

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