A wonder strike from Jeremy Teacher helped UJIA book their place in their second consecutive JC Barry Goldstein Trophy final following a hard-fought win over Division Three rivals Blizzard Storm.
Missing several key players for the Minor Cup clash, including Matt Radstone, Ben Sokel, Tony Plaskow, Paul Shamplina and Alex Seligman, it needed a moment of magic from Teacher to set up a final against North West Neasden C at Wingate & Finchley on April 22.
UJIA player-manager Darren Rolfe said: “Defensively, we were superb and ‘Captain Marvel’ Gavin Sherman organised the team from top to bottom.
“Blizzard Storm, under Simon Linden, are a fabulous set of lads and gave us a good game. However, we restricted them to long-range shots and pinned them into their half.”
Israeli striker Assi Avital was looking to maintain his record of scoring in every BGT game this season, and he came close with a looping header that was tipped over the crossbar.
After a goalless first 45 minutes, UJIA edged the second half and there was no way back for Blizzard after Teacher’s swerving 25-yard effort found the net.
Rolfe said: “The players are now focused on returning to Wingate and we’re going back to win it this time.”
Blizzard boss Simon Linden commented: “Defensively our game-plan worked and the work-rate from everyone was spot on. Unfortunately we didn’t create enough chances and as the game wore on, UJIA got better and took control.”
F i r s t - h a l f e f f o r t s f r o m O l i Joseph and Benjy Gourgey steered Neasden C past Division Three champions Glenthorne United B in the other semi-final. Top-scorer and jointplayer-manager Craig Sandford pulled one back for Glenthorne.
NWN player-manager Louis Taylor said: “When we set out the team for this game, I simply had to play the same team that won in the last round against cup favourites Faithfold B.
“I asked for the same level of commitment, concentration and effort that we showed in that game, and my team did that today and more.
“We defended as if our lives depended on it and completed a deserved victory. I think I aged a few years watching from the sidelines. I am so proud of my team - we’re on our way to Wingate.”
Sandford said: “Congratulations to NWN. They were excellent for 90 minutes and deserve everything they got.
“It was a story of two halves with NWN being clinical in the first and Glenthorne dominating the play in the second. They were very organised and determined.
“Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and admit when you have been beaten by a better team and today NWN were better.”
Head strong: UJIA’S Ben Nassim ( right) shows great desire