BY DANNY CARO

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT -

JCCACLon­don Mac­cabi Li­ons A will look to com­plete a hat-trick of vic­to­ries in the JC Cyril Anek­stein Cup when they take on Di­vi­sion One high-fly­ers Chigwell Ath­letic B at Win­gate & Finch­ley on Sun­day night.

Chigwell are one of the first teams from out­side the top-flight to reach the fi­nal this cen­tury. Rus­sell Green’s men stunned last sea­son’s league win­ners Hen­don United A in the pre­vi­ous round with for­mer Win­gate & Finch­ley player Greg Book­man their hero in a 2-1 win.

Rus­sell Green said: “We are the mas­sive un­der­dogs, but I be­lieve we can win, oth­er­wise there would be no point in turn­ing up.

“The ex­pe­ri­ence of play­ing in a fi­nal is one all the boys will re­mem­ber for some time, what­ever the re­sult. The semi-fi­nal win over Hen­don has given us con­fi­dence and we know that Li­ons are beat­able. They have a rep­u­ta­tion for be­ing well or­gan­ised. They like to play foot­ball and keep the ball and have a squad that is strong enough to cope with any­thing.

We go into this game with noth­ing to lose and con­fi­dence that we can also play a bit and maybe be­come the Barns­ley of Mac­cabi foot­ball. What­ever the score, Li­ons will know that they have been in a tough game as we will bat­tle for ev­ery­thing un­til the fi­nal whis­tle.”

Chigwell chair­man Richard Slater said: “It is a great achieve­ment for the B team to reach the League Cup fi­nal against all odds. If Greg Book­man is on song then you can throw the form book out the win­dow as ev­ery­one at the club be­lieves they can bring the Tro­phy to Chigwell.”

Man­aged by Eilon Ken­net and Ben Win­ston, the Li­ons, who beat Chigwell’s A team ear­lier in the com­pe­ti­tion, were some­what for­tu­nate to re­tain the tro­phy last sea­son af­ter beat­ing North West Neas­den A in ex­tra time. In 2006, they claimed a nar­row win over Faith­fold A.

Michael Pear­son, the 2005-06 JC MSFL Player of the Sea­son, ap­pears the big­gest threat. Hav­ing re­cently re­turned from a ham­string in­jury, the for­mer Alder­shot Town marks­man looked back to his best on rep team duty a fort­night ago. Prepa­ra­tions for the match were ham­pered when keeper Mike Elvey suf­fered a bro­ken fin­ger play­ing for Lon­don Li­ons last Satur­day.

Mid­field­mae­stroAvielSch­warzis­look­ing for­ward to his 11th League Cup fi­nal. As per the Peter Mor­ri­son Tro­phy fi­nal, he has won five and lost five. The Peter Pan of Jewish foot­ball was quick to point out­thatChig­wellBare“not­the­first­team from out­side the top-flight to reach the fi­nal”. MAL have qual­i­fied from Di­vi­sion One and Two, un­der the aus­pices of Bar­nett Horowitz. They lost to Marsh­side and Faith­fold A.

Ken­net said: “Chigwell B are a se­ri­ous match for any­one. The fact that they play in Di­vi­sion One should not mis­lead any­one into think­ing they are not good enough to play at the top level.

“If you look at their play­ers, it’s clear that they are not B team play­ers, but more a group of friends who want to play to­gether.

“Their man­ager Rus­sell Green is very am­bi­tious and de­ter­mined and we ex­pect them to be very well or­gan­ised, skil­ful and com­mit­ted.

“We are very proud to be the hold­ers of this tro­phy and we want to win it for a third time in a row, but we are un­der no il­lu­sion about Chigwell’s de­sire to wrench it away from us. It’s al­ways hard to re­peat suc­cess and we are tak­ing noth­ing for granted.”

Look­ing back at the sea­son so far, joint-boss Ben Win­ston com­mented: “It’s been a very frus­trat­ing sea­son for us. We didn’t start with a par­tic­u­larly big squad and def­i­nitely paid a heavy price for this.

“The list of ab­sen­tees tells its own story. For one rea­son or an­other we lost 11 play­ers who fea­tured reg­u­larly last sea­son and there is no doubt this hurt our cam­paign. Last year we had cover in ev­ery po­si­tion and play­ers had to per­form at their best to be se­lected.

“This apart, we don’t think we were very far off the pace, tak­ing im­por­tant points off the big teams, but what we lacked this sea­son was con­sis­tency. Nev­er­the­less, we will con­tinue to bat­tle as best we can for the league run­ner­sup po­si­tion, but be­fore that there is the mat­ter of the League Cup to deal with.

“This is not just about win­ning an­other tro­phy. If we can play to our po­ten­tial we will have the chance of keep­ing this tro­phy for a third year in a row and we are tak­ing this very se­ri­ously.”

Dan­ger­men: Chigwell’s Greg Book­man and Li­ons’ Mike Pear­son will aim to bring the cup home

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