Ham­mer­sreadyto burst­dou­ble­bub­ble

The Jewish Chronicle - - Sport - BYDANNYCARO

NEW­LY­crowned JC MSFLcham­pi­ons North West Neas­den A will look to com­plete the league and cup dou­ble when they take on last sea­son’s league win­ners Hen­don United A in the fi­nal of the Peter Mor­ri­son Tro­phy on Sun­day af­ter­noon.

Neas­den, whose chair­man is Sammy Carr, are no strangers to Win­gate & Finch­ley and they are sure to bring a healthy fol­low­ing in their pur­suit of more sil­ver­ware.

Hav­ing beaten the Ham­mers home and away in the league this sea­son, man­ager Jamie Cole be­lieves they have the psy­cho­log­i­cal edge go­ing into the game. “For the past few years, Neas­den have been the nearly team,” Cole said.

“But on our day we know we could beat any­one as we have al­ways had ex­cep­tional play­ers. It was find­ing that con­sis­tency and main­tain­ing our high lev­els week in, week out that was miss­ing.

“We have shown great con­sis­tency in the league this sea­son. Our defence has been im­mense. We went on a streak of not con­ced­ing a goal in eight matches which is un­heard of at this level. There is a nice blend of youth and ex­pe­ri­ence, and a to­geth­er­ness that has taken us to a new level. Let’s hope they are all re­warded for a great sea­son by win­ning the dou­ble.”

The Jewish FA Cup holds fond mem­o­ries for Cole’s as­sis­tant, Daniel Fox who won the com­pe­ti­tion as a player in 2000. Hav­ing been forced into early re­tire­ment af­ter car­ti­lage op­er­a­tions on both knees, he said: “I played in a great Neas­den team back then but the cur­rent crop of play­ers we have as­sem­bled puts us in a dif­fer­ent league now.”

Neas­den’s defence has con­ceded just 13 times in 17 league games and their strike­force, much like their team spirit, is sec­ond to none in Jewish foot­ball with Lee Cash, Ryan Sher, Adam Stol­er­man and Cam­bridge Univer­sity star­let Matt Stock help­ing the team be­come top scor­ers in the top-flight with 60 goals.

Cap­tain Cash tops the Pre­mier Di­vi­sion’s scor­ing charts with 18 strikes and he is the team’s top-scorer in the com­pe­ti­tion with six. The goal-poacher has fea­tured in the top three of the league scor­ing charts for five of the last six years. Stol­er­man, who has scored 24 goals for Lon­don Li­ons in the Herts Se­nior County League foot­ball on Satur­days, has earned the role of su­per­sub.

But it is Matt Stock that Hen­don need fear most. He scored four times for Cam­bridge Univer­sity in the re­cent Var­sity win over Ox­ford and be­fore tak­ing a year off in France, he will want to bow out on a high. He looks a strong con­tender for the Mac­cabiah Games team next year. Hen­don boss Jonathan Kesten­baum knows Cash, Stock, Adam Levene, Jake Got­tlieb and Josh Rosen­feld well af­ter pick­ing them for his rep team this sea­son. He is cur­rently jug­gling three man­age­rial hats, com­bin­ing Hen­don’s cup charge along with that of be­ing Team GB open man­ager in Is­rael in 2009 and run­ning the rep team.

Kesten­baum has been the man with the mi­das touch over the past cou­ple of sea­sons, lead­ing Hen­don to the Di­vi­sion One and Pre­mier Di­vi­sion ti­tles in con­sec­u­tive sea­sons — the first team to com­plete this achieve­ment, and mas­ter­mind­ing a 17-match win­ning run this sea­son. While Cole has claimed two wins over Kesten­baum in the league, the Ham­mers boss ended Neas­den’s tre­ble hopes with vic­tory in the quar­ter-fi­nals of the JC Cyril Anek­stein Cup. His foot­ball CV ri­vals the best in the Jewish game in­clud­ing play­ing for LSE 1sts, win­ning a half blue at Cam­bridge and the league and cup as a player with Hill­gar. He has also rep­re­sented Great Bri­tain at Mac­cabiah level and, in his third sea­son as man­ager of Hen­don, he has landed two league ti­tles and three cup semi-fi­nal slots.

He be­lieves it is time that the reds went from nearly men to cham­pi­ons in cup foot­ball. He said: “We had an ap­palling start to the sea­son, claim­ing one point out of a pos­si­ble nine. And then we en­coun­tered a quite ex­cep­tional Neas­den side who are wor­thy cham­pi­ons. Hav­ing said that, we went on a run of 17 suc­ces­sive wins and dis­cov­ered that the line be­tween win­ning things and fall­ing short is a very thin one.

“But the cup is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter. We are look­ing for­ward to this game im­mensely, not just be­cause of the oc­ca­sion but be­cause the play­ers want to make up for the de­feat against Neas­den last month. Take noth­ing away from them in that game as they have been out­stand­ing all sea­son. But the Hen­don play­ers have been count­ing the min­utes to this game. They know they un­der­per­formed that day.”

PHOTO: TA­BATHA FIRE­MAN

PHOTO: VIVIEN STE­WART

Glory boys: Neas­den lifted the time last month, Hen­don did it last sea­son. Who will come out on top on Sun­day?

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