Alyth Belsize junior club round-up:

Alyth Belsize junior club round-up:

Alyth U11 Reds

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

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11
Alyth Belsize Black 0 Alyth Belsize Red 1 (Black perspective)

Alyth Black lost to the league champions in a closely-fought game. I thought that for all our effort and huff and puff, the better team did win. We were probably the better side in the first half and really got caught out by a sucker punch from which we struggled to recover.

The second half was real ‘backs to the wall’ stuff. Shai Koskas made some excellent saves and the boys ran themselves into the ground defending our goal. We did create some chances – Sammy Kebede came close with a header and Sam Cohen went on a mazy run that nearly created an opening. Chopper had a great game in the centre making his presence felt by fair means or foul !

We need to pick ourselves up for next week’s game and I look forward to the next time we play our arch-rivals – there was perhaps too much play in the centre and our shape was compromised because of who we were playing.

My Man-of-the-Match is going to Shai (hopefully he will never need to be MOTM again !)

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U11
Alyth Belsize Black 0 Alyth Belsize Red 1 (Red perspective)

Let me start by referring to what Danny Cohen, U11 Blacks Manager, wrote in his match report above… I generally agree with his comments apart from the fact that they were the better team in the first half – I would say perhaps in the first 10 minutes!

I don’t know why but I had a bad feeling about the match on Sunday.  True, we had played eight and won eight, true we were sitting pretty on the top of the league, true we had not been beaten in the league for two years, but I just had a feeling… True, that the build-up to the match against AB Blacks was unusual – first off then on, then 8-a-side then back to 9-a-side. True, we were without a few players – no Alex Godfrey, Rudy Berman, George Owen or Joe Nissim.  Asher Hayes and Ben Hurst were drafted back in following pleas from me as we were looking short of players; so thanks to The Hursts and Hayes for changing their arrangements!

Sunday morning and Max Cutner is not well – really not well, he even went to bed on Saturday evening before 9pm, so it must be serious! We kept him off Cheder, dosed him up with Calpol and right up until 2pm I had my doubts whether he would play. But he said he felt a bit better and off we went towards Wembley before the drugs wore off for our final league match of the season! I know, and it’s only November!

We arrived and the U11 Blacks were well up for it, I mean REALLY up for it. Sammy Kebede came up to us and asked whether Rudy was playing; Max replied “hmmm, not sure” (trying not to give the game away but without lying), but I said we had decided to rest him; Sammy on hearing the news that there was no Rudy simply cheered as if they were one up and went running off to confirm the team news with the rest of his teammates!

Max then looked at me and asked me why I had told Sammy that we had no Rudy. I tapped the side of my head and said “aha, mind games…”  (I know, what am I doing?!)

At 3.30 the referee called for captains, and I looked over towards the car park – where was Lior Solomons Wise? Two minutes later along came Lior, apologising for his lateness but also telling me he was not feeling 100%!

One last chat to the team. I explained that we were undefeated, unbeaten and had a 100% record … and believe me every team would like to end our remarkable run so I expected the Blacks to come at us hammer and tongs right from the off.

So now it was down to the ten fine players to go out there and show what they were made off.  All form goes out the window when there is a derby at stake! And I was not wrong, the Blacks came at us like their lives depended on it. I was disappointed to see what I thought was a rash challenge on their old boy Zac Paul after about one minute, but I am pleased to say that this was an isolated incident and not repeated.  Zac got up as if nothing has happened – a true solider.

However, for all the pressure they put on us in the first ten minutes they did not get one single shot on goal – our defence was solid, our midfield was strong. Then, 15 minutes into the game the ball was passed out to the left, Lior in possession and he passed the ball quickly through to Zac , who timed his run to perfection and slotted the ball away for what was to prove to be the winning goal – lovely!

Zac, Zac, Zac, I am so delighted that you have settled into the Reds so well and more importantly so quickly!  Our top scorer with 8 goals to date, and I know nothing pleased you more than scoring the winner against your old club!  I love everything about the way you play – your enthusiasm, your non-stop running and your finishing; Blacks’ loss is most certainly Reds’ gain, well done young man!

Our solid defence on Sunday was a combination of Eden Cohen, Ben, Asher and Eli Jay. Another clean sheet and a real improvement in keeping the discipline needed in maintaining a straight line at the back, not dropping too deep and thus keeping the pressure on our opponents.  I witnessed some solid tackling, and on the rare occasion a tackle was not successful the boys never gave up , tracked back and put yet more pressure on the Blacks.  To all our defence (including Jake Brass), to have conceded just four goals in nine matches and never more than one in any single match is just outstanding.

Jake, our caged tiger!  The mark of a great keeper is concentration, and for all the early pressure that the Blacks put on us they did not create a clear chance on goal; however, in the second half, although we were on top, a slender one-goal lead meant we could never relax, and on two occasions Jake pulled of fantastic saves to keep us in the lead.  One I can recall was him sprinting off his line to ‘sweep up’ and hoof the ball away.  Fantastic!

Our midfield, without Rudy and Alex, needed to be adaptable. Lior, Max, Eli (multi-tasking) Sam and Gabriel de Leuw were the heart of the game. Each put in a shift, as they say, and much like the defence didn’t give up, ran their hearts out and ensured that any attacking options from the Blacks were kept to a minimum.

It proves the great team spirit that both Lior and Max played whilst feeling unwell. (Perhaps in hindsight Max should not have played as he has not been able to go school this week!) They put in a great deal of effort and it did not go un-noticed. I asked Max to play a slightly deeper role this match; first, as he was not full of running as normal (though that didn’t come across) and secondly because I was fully aware of the threat that Sammy and Ash Fraiman could offer. So, rather than put in a man-to-man policy I felt it better to have someone there to protect the defence, do the ugly stuff.

I think that Sam had his best game to date. It’s difficult to come into a team that has been playing together for a number of years, plus a winning team to boot! A few more games and you could well be pushing for a starting position.

So: played 9, won 9, goals for 29, goals against 4 … Need I say more! You should all be very proud.

And now for the cup…

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8
Alyth Belsize Red vs Hendon United Blue

This was an amazing match, not so much for the final score (although it clearly helps), but for the football played by every single player.  As club coach Ivan told you all at the end of the match, you played real football, and should be very proud of yourselves.

So, the goals.  The first was from a corner taken by Louis Marcus that was slow but accurate, landed directly in front of the goal, deflected off the perfectly positioned Gabriel Broll’s foot, hit the post and went in.  It looked from the sideline like slow motion, but kick-started the game appropriately and was perfectly executed.  The second was from a pass received by Louis outside the box, who kicked hard and accurately this time…..and scored.

The third was a run up the left wing from Theo Brass, who passed to the perfectly positioned Louis, who scored his second of the match. The fourth goal was from a corner taken by Theo to the yet again waiting Louis, whose shot was saved by the goalie; not wanting to miss his chance of a hat trick, he went back in for the rebound and found the back of the net.  Well done Louis, for not only scoring a hat trick but making the first of our season.

However, those goals only give a fraction of the good football played by the whole team.  Benny Landeck had his best game yet in defence, concentrating and going in for the tackle rather than waiting for it to come to him.  David Rahamim also played a good game in defence (although I’m not too sure he’s happy to hear that!), and held and executed his position intelligently and with commitment.  Oliver, with his strong physical presence and fast feet protected our goal well, and always cleared the ball to safety.  Raffi, despite being in goal for only half the match, proved yet again what a talented goalie he is.  He made a number of great saves, but the one worth describing was a save from a scramble where he ended on his knees, only to see the ball being shot again but high… in microseconds, he managed to get back on his feet and jump higher than a small seven-year-old ought to be able, to save an almost certain goal.  Well done Raffi.

Our midfielders and strikers were passing like professionals, and there were so many occasions when the managers were saying ‘did you see that!’.  Dylan Margolis, Didier Levenfiche, Theo, Louis and Gabe were really playing together, finding the space and feeding the ball to each other.  Those goals were really set up by you all.  Didier had a particularly good match but was unlucky to just miss his goal on a few occasions.  Theo always keeps up the pace of the game, forcing our opponents to react and not attack.  A particular mention to Theo for a spectacular tackle in front of goal that left him injured but kept us with a clean sheet.  Dylan reminded us what a good second goalie he can be, with a few great saves of his own.

Man-of-the-Match has to be Louis for his hat-trick, and without a doubt, his best game yet.

Jewish News Maccabi Junior Football League U8
Alyth Belsize Black vs Hendon United Green

This is a hard report to write. Not just because I lost managerial impartiality the moment my son scored his hat trick – though that was a big part of it. No, it’s hard because this was easily our best match of the season so far.  Every player had their best game of the season. Every pass was accurate.  Every shot (almost) found its target.  And as a result we bashed Hendon United Green. This meant that it was a goal, on average, every 4 minutes – and it was nearly impossible to keep track of who was doing, or scoring, what.

So let’s start with what we do know. We experimented with a more defensive formation (the irony is not lost on us).  We played with a defensive line of three or four, instead of the usual two.  This formation relies on the striker holding his position.  Adam Gonen did this job for most of the first half, and did as we asked him to do – standing with his back to goal, letting the midfield pass to him, and instead of shooting (as he normally would), laying the ball into the path of the midfielders charging up to support him.

In the first half, this plan worked a treat.  Our back three of Jack Florea, Sam Greenspan and Jack Kanareck held a strong line, killing off Hendon’s attacking threat.

When we had the ball, our attacking trio of Dan Tyler, Ethan Cantor and Adam Gonen played ticka-tacka football, passing between themselves and setting up shot after shot.   Within what seemed like minutes, we were leading 3-0, all scored by Dan Tyler, who came off to rest and let Hendon recover.  His replacement, Noah Shapiro, joined the attack with excellence, and soon we were 5-0 up with goals from Ethan and Adam.

At half-time, we made two strategic changes.  First, we put our strongest attackers in defence to let Hendon restore their dignity.  Secondly, we banned the team from dribbling – instead allowing them one touch to control the ball, and another to pass to a team mate.

It was at this moment that I lost the plot, as within moments of taking off the green jersey and switching to striker, Sam Mocatta scored one, two then three goals to become our second hat-trick hero of the night.  One was set up by Noah’s excellent second touch.  Another a ‘route one’ punt upfield from Adam Gonen in goal.  And a third when Sam intercepted a pass from the Hendon goalie.

Plot now lost, here are some amazing moments I do remember.  Sam Greenspan receiving a pass from Ethan Cantor, shooting, and hitting the crossbar.  Tackles left right and centre from the outstanding Tyler Richards.  Noah Shapiro scoring one or two more goals with excellent skill.  And the forward line remembering to pass to the defenders with their second touch, instead of losing the ball in a mazy dribble.

We really want to congratulate all the players for listening to our coaching, and responding to the tactical and formation changes we made during the game.  Everyone listened.  Everyone played their best game of the season.  Parents – you should all be very proud.

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