By David Saffer
Hendon United Sports are one win away from clinching the Premier Division title.
The champions-elect overcame Camden Park 3-2 at home.
Closest rivals Oakwood A went down to a shock 3-1 home defeat to Maccabi London Lions Blue to put the title within touching distance.
Hendon lead defending champions Oakwood by five points with only two fixtures remaining.
Zac Lewis, Greg Corin and Mordy Weiler struck the goals that put Hendon on the brink of the championship.
“It was another big test for the team today as we were missing key players and playing against a Camden side who made the game very difficult,” said player-manager Corin.
“It’s a shame to say but we were disappointed by a number of over-aggressive challenges and the general attitude we received. However we showed our quality focusing on the football and got the all important three points.
“We can’t wait for the forthcoming fixtures. There are very tough games remaining but the next three games, two in the league and a cup final, is the chance for us to show that Hendon are the best team in Sunday Jewish football.
“We will go out and try to give it 100 percent and see where that takes us.”
Corin added, “A special mention to the younger players in the squad today.
“They are the future for this club. When called upon today they were superb and we needed their energy to see off an experienced good Camden team”.
Oakwood’s defeat was a devastating blow in their bid to retain the title.
Lions opening goal came from a quick free kick, Jono Gaon chesting the ball down for Michael Kenley to volley into the corner just before half time.
Liron Mannie then struck when he picked up the ball before beating three men prior to cooly slotting home.
Oakwood got back into the game but Joshua Bloom chipped in number three after a neat interchange of passes around the edge of the penalty box.
“This was a hugely disappointing day for the club but we were beaten by the better side on the day,” said Oakwood boss Daniel Kristall.
“We couldn’t get going in a game where the first goal was key.
“Having got back into the game and dominating possession, we knew we would leave ourselves open at the back and that is when Lions scored their third. We were sloppy on the ball and lacked creativity in the final third but I can’t fault our effort, we had an off day.”
Kristall added, “We didn’t lose the title in this game, we lost it by dropping too many points at key times throughout the season. But given our injury list, if we ultimately finish second with a cup final to follow, it will have been another really positive season for Oakwood.
“We will work hard in the summer to recover players and add the quality that we need to challenge for the title again next season. In the meantime, we will prepare for the final in three weeks where we hope to recover some of our injured boys.”
“Heading into our last game of the season we really wanted to finish on a high and thankfully did just that,” said Lions boss Samuel Marchant.
“Oakwood are a strong side but we knew this game was a big occasion for them as a slip-up could cost them their chance of winning the league.
“We lost to them at home earlier in the season in a close game so knew if we were at our best we could get something.
“All the lads worked tirelessly today and proved to ourselves what we are actually capable of if we are committed and concentrated each week. All our goals were of real quality and we certainly deserved to get the three points.
“It feels great to finish the season in such a positive manner, and for our first season in this league, we feel we have done well, learnt a lot and will be prepared better for next season.”
In Division 1, Oakwood B triumphed 4-2 away to Redbridge Jewish Care C.
Elsewhere, Division 2 outfit Hertswood Vale edged a five-goal thriller against Mill Hill Dons thanks to a 94th minute winner from defender James Neidle.
Vale started strongly in wet conditions, and after chances for both teams, took the lead through James Millet with the simplest of finishes after Josh Cohen’s initial shot had been blocked for his sixth goal in as many games in the 30th minute.
Dons before half time enjoyed the majority of possession but failed to get past Vale ‘keeper Jack Shulman.
Dons though started the second half better and equalised through Zach Cohen who rifled home.
Despite continuous pressure from the Dons, strong defending, including a goal line block from Jordan Harris, and notable saves from Shulman kept the scores level.
And Vale edged ahead for a second time in the 70th minute when Cohen (Josh) thumped home a spot kick for his 14th goal of he season after Millet was hauled down in the penalty area, giving the referee no option.
Dons hit back in the 90th minute through Josh Cinna who had the simplest of finishes at the back post.
But Vale had the word in added time after a Dons attack was thwarted, Millet broke away, linked with Josh Wood who set up Neidle to fire past the helpless Dons keeper.
“This is a huge result for Vale having thrown away a two-goal lead in the reverse fixture,” said Vale manager Jacob Emanuel.
“The boys were up for the match and ultimately got their reward for clinical finishing and hard work.
“We will now focus our minds to Jeff Gotch’s Catford next week on the hunt for another three points.”
Emanuel added: “Having bettered last season’s points tally our final challenge is to finish as high up the table as possible.
“The top four has already been decided but we’ve got a fifth place finish firmly in our sights, which is a great way to show how much we’ve improved.
“Coming into this game three wins from our remaining games would guarantee us the ‘best of the rest spot’ but we’re under no illusions how difficult it will be.”
Real Hendon enjoyed a goal frenzy against Faithfold B running out 7-2 victors.
Hendon were looking to bounce back from a disappointing Barry Goldstein Cup defeat to Temple Fortune.
And they succeeded with sharpshooter Gav Noe strucking four goals including a stunning lob in a sterling performance.
There were also goals from Adam Hersh and both centre backs, Martin Smulovitch and Doron Shooter.
Benny Goldberg also struck a
hatrick but each goal was disallowed.