We’ll get it right second time around, says Rolfe
IT’S OFFICIAL. We have now reached the business end of the season and I’ve told my wife and kids that they won’t be seeing much of me over the next couple of weeks, with big matches and cup finals coming up thick and fast.
My diary is virtually booked up and I may as well set up camp at Wingate & Finchley for the festival of football that awaits.
London Lions will finish what has been an excellent season in the Molten Spartan South Midlands League Division One with a match at home to Broxbourne Borough tomorrow. Tony Gold’s men deserve full credit after recording their highest-ever points tally. The manager and his coaching team deserve medals after a season hampered by inconsistent availability. The team’s success certainly bodes well for next year’s Maccabiah Games as I expect the Team GB Open football squad to be packed with players from the Rowley Lane club.
Sunday sees the JC MSFL league and cup competitions take centre stage. It will be ‘squeaky bum time’ for players and supporters of Brixton Old Boys A as victory against Redbridge Jewish Care B would see them pip Norstar A to the runners-up spot in Division One.
Attention then turns to the Harry Abrahams Stadium where there’s a real treat in store. First up are UJIA and North West Neasden C in the final of the JC Barry Goldstein Trophy. It’s hard to pick a winner.
That’s followed by the JC Cyril Anekstein Cup final where Hendon United Sports Club A will look to seal the first part of a possible treble against a multitalented Brady team. It will be great to see Brady hotshot Paul Hakim and captain marvel Jonny Ellis back on their old patch. I’ve been hugely impressed by both teams this season, but my money would be on a narrow Hendon win.
Sandwiched in between those two finals are the Maccabi GB National Junior Cup finals at the Hive in Edgware. Good luck to Alyth Belsize, Hendon United Blue, Hendon United White, HMH Jaffa, Hendon United White and Hendon United Blue.
The following weekend, Hendon return to Wingate where they will take on Division One champions Oakwood in the final of the Peter Morrison Trophy.
Next on the bill is the MGB Under 12 final between London Maccabi Lions and Manchester Maccabi. And to cap off a busy schedule, the late slot has been reserved for the Masters where champions Brady will look to maintain their monopoly on the silverware against Glenthorne United A.
So there’s much to look forward to for players and supporters over the coming weeks and, needless to say, you’ll get the best coverage and analysis here. See Danny Caro’s weekend round-up at thejc.com. Email firstname.lastname@example.org and/ or follow Danny on Twitter:@djcaro
Darrenrolfeisconfidenthistroops can use the pain of last season’s cup final defeat to spur them on to victory against Division Three rivals North West Neasden C in the JC Barry Goldstein Trophy final on Sunday.
A goal from Jonny Blain inflicted a heartbreaking defeat on UJIA and player-manager Rolfe believes his team has what it takes to come away from Wingate & Finchley with silverware.
“I think it’s quite an important factor thatwe’vebeentowingatebefore,”rolfe said. “It’s every Jewish player’s dream to represent their club in a final and we are deservedly going back for the second year in succession.
“Last year’s experience, including the result, will be a huge learning curve. We have kept virtually the same squad, bar one or two players, so let’s hope we can learn from that. We must remain focused and not let the occasion get in the way of the task at hand.”
Israeli striker Assi Avital will be lookingtomaintainhisexcellentrunof form that has seen him score in all but one of the matches in this season’s competition. Jeremy Teacher has also chipped in with important goals in recent weeks. Jeremy Leigh, Gavin Sherman and Paul Shamplina offer a combination of grit, determination and a winning mentality to what is an experienced squad.
Rolfe believes that Neasden start as favourites. “They beaten us twice in the league this season but they were our first two games. We then went on an eightgame unbeaten, so although we will be mindful of those results, there will be no excuses on Sunday.”
Asked what can spectators watching Ujiaforthefirsttimeshouldexpect,rolfe commented:“ourfans,whowillcomein their hundreds, will watch some entertaining slick passing football. “They will see how determined we are in the tackle and our never-say-die attitude. We’ll be well worth the £3 entry fee!”
Neasden reached the final following a memorable 2-1 victory at Division Three champions Glenthorne United B. Manager Louis Taylor said: “The whole of the club is buzzing after reaching Wingate.”
Both Neasden and UJIA have one league game remaining in their pursuit of a third place finish and Taylor is confident his big-match players will stand up and be counted on Sunday.
“Benjigourgeyhasbeenthestand-out performer in our cup run,” he said. “He’s been full of energy and pops up with important goals at vital times.”
Much is also expected from captain Adam Levene, who has played at Wingate several times for the club’s A-team. Paying tribute to his skipper, Taylor said: “Adam has been the heartbeat of the team since he and I set it up two years ago. We simply don’t let in many goals when he’s playing in defence.”
Although the UJIA squad has more experience, the presence of Oli Joseph will ensure Neasden are strong at setpieces. Taylor describes him as “an inspired signing at the start of the season”. He went on to say: “Oli has chipped in with important goals and some fantastic performances.”
Lookingbackonthisseason’scuprun, Taylor said: “We did things the hard way - beating the two favourites after only going through on goal difference from the group stage.
“We won’t be taking our opponents lightly and after beating them in our first two league games, we are aware of how much they have improved.
“I believe we can win the game with a defensive display like the ones we put in against Glenthorne and Faithfold. There are not many back fours stronger than ours in this league or others. Going forward, we have enough quality to create chances. It’s just about taking them.” FINAL SQUADS UJIA: Darren Rolfe, Ben Radstone, Jeremy Leigh, Elliot Norman, Gavin Rhodes, Gavin Sherman, Matt Radstone, Ashley Freeman, Nick Russell, Tony Plaskow, Assi Avital, Ben Nassim, Jeremy Teacher, Ben Sokel, Paul Shamplina, Paul Rodin, Alex Seligman. Coach: Simon Sokel NEASDEN: Louis Taylor, Adam Levene (capt), Michael Perkin, Richie Braham, Jon Benjamin, Joel Kanutin, Ali Marks, Tony Chadwick, Simon Cohen, Benji Gourgey, Simon Levene, Jamie Isenwater, Mark Engel, Elliot Setyon, Aron Lewis, Oli Joseph, Sam Cicurel, Jonny Franks, Daniel Langer, Ross Kester, Phil Benson. Mascots: Joshua Taylor, Zane Levene Officials: Ref – Martin Lavender, Asstrefs – Quentin Fox, Brandon Pieters, 4th official – Laurie Benson
Neasden stalwart Adam Levene ( right) could be the key man on Sunday
UJIA were all smiles after the semi-final victory over Blizzard Storm