Ad­van­tage Oak­wood

The Jewish Chronicle - - SPORT - BYDANNYCARO

FOOT­BALL OAK­WOOD landed a huge psy­cho­log­i­cal blow in the race for the MGBSFL Premier Di­vi­sion ti­tle by beat­ing long-time lead­ers Hen­don but joint-man­ager Dan Kristall in­sists his play­ers will not get car­ried away ahead of this weekend’s re-match.

First-half strikes from Kyle Bent­wood, Brad Wine and Alex Lee gave Oak­wood the up­per hand and, although they were forced to de­fend for long pe­ri­ods in the sec­ond half, Kristall de­scribed the vic­tory as a big state­ment of in­tent.

Hen don were dan­ger­ous in the open­ing 30 min­utes, with live wire Zac Lewis and Rocky Spitzer threat­en­ing early on, de­nied only by some ath­letic goal­keep­ing from Oak­wood’s Dean Caplin.

Bent­wood broke the dead­lock with a goal of the sea­son con­tender mid­way through the half. Latch­ing on to a Hen­don clear­ance 35 yards from goal, he didn’t break stride as he lashed home a de­li­cious swerv­ing vol­ley into the top cor­ner.

Hen­don were shell-shocked and an­other fab­u­lous fin­ish, this time from Wine, put day­light be­tween the teams. He pro­duced a stun­ning swivel and shot high into the net.

The out­stand­ing Lee added a third, curl­ing a free-kick over the wall and into the top cor­ner.

Hen­don pushed Oak­wood back af­ter half-time, but a fine long-range fin­ish from Rocky Spitzer in stop­page time was mere con­so­la­tion.

Kristall said: “The game was tough but we man­aged to win it in a 10- minute spell where we shocked Hen­don.

“I felt we were the much bet­ter side in the first half and other than the odd scare from the pace of the Hen­don counter-at­tack, I felt we had control of the game and most of the pos­ses­sion.

“The sec­ond half was a dif­fer­ent game where we de­fended very well and soaked up the pres­sure Hen­don ap­plied on us. They showed us what a good team they are in the sec­ond half and that they were not un­beaten in the league for no rea­son.”

Kristall went on to say some of the Oak­wood per­for­mances have given Ric Blank and him­self a se­lec­tion headache ahead of the re-match.

“We still have lots to im­prove on and it was a wel­come 90 min­utes for play­ers like Har­vey Kaye and Kyle,” said Kristall.

“It’s never been so com­pet­i­tive for places than it is right now. We will have some dif­fi­cult de­ci­sions to make this Sun­day with play­ers re­turn­ing but that is a healthy po­si­tion to be in.

“We know that David Gar­bacz will rally his troops this week and we ex­pect a big re­sponse from them. We look for­ward to round two on Sun­day.”

Hen­don boss David Gar­bacz com­mended Oak­wood for three “ex­cel­lent fin­ishes” but he be­lieves the hosts were the bet­ter team.

“On an­other day we would have re­cov­ered but it just was not to be,” he

said. “Oak­wood de­fended ex­cep­tion­ally well to keep us out as we were ram­pant for that pe­riod.

“We prob­a­bly gave them a bit too much re­spect early on and sat back too deep but, once we re­alised we were the bet­ter foot­balling team, we took the game to them but the come­back was not to be.”

“On the plus side I think we go into Sun­day return match with all the mo­men­tum. It will rep­re­sent a vir­tual cup fi­nal for both teams.

“The ti­tle race promises to go right down to the wire with Red­bridge still in the mix as well.”

Kyle Bent­wood and Lee Warner cel­e­brate Oak­wood’s open­ing goal

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