By David Saffer
Reigning Premier League champions Oakwood A came from behind to move within a point of top spot following a thrilling 3-2 win at Maccabi London Lions Blue.
Toby Levy, Tom Cantor and Josh Cuby sealed the points for Oakwood who have two games in hand on leaders Brady Maccabi.
Hendon United Sports, who were in cup action, are two points further back having played a game less than Oakwood.
“It was a well contested game where I felt the best team won,” said Oakwood boss Daniel Kristall. “We dug in, battled well from a goal down and scored some lovely goals.
“Levy’s equaliser was a brilliant finish and Cuby’s goal was another outstanding individual goal. He hit the ball perfectly.
“Overall, we pressed them well, created good opportunities and got better as the game went on. We had to shuffle the back four in the closing stages and I think this impacted our rhythm but we saw the game out well.”
Kristall added, “Credit to Lions, they are a good side. It’s a strong league and they will continue to take points from good teams. They pass the ball nicely and play football in the right way. They also took their goals very well although we helped them with the first.
“We will regroup and go again against a resurgent North London Raiders on Sunday.”
David Nezri scored both the Lions goals including a volley from just inside the penalty box, rifling the ball into the roof of the net.
Lions keeper James Harpin saved a third minute penalty and stopped the follow-up from four yards out.
“Nezri isn’t usually on the score sheet but scored two lovely goals and Harpin’s penalty stop was incredible,” said Lions boss Samuel Marchant.
He added, “We knew today was going to be extremely tough facing the reigning champions.
“We were not at our best today but worked hard. We found it difficult to get the ball down and play, especially with Oakwood pressing high up the pitch. Perhaps our desire and passion was not at it’s best with post-break blues but this will come back.
“It wasn’t until 3-1 down when there was a clear reaction and we took control much more of the game. It’s a shame to lose, but it is one of our toughest matches and with a good few games left this season we want to work hard and finish on a high note.”
There were goals galore in the Premier fixture between North London Raiders A and Redbridge Jewish Care A.
Alex Moss scored four goals and Josh Goldstein a brace as Raiders thumped Redbridge 8-4.
Oscar Wagner and Ben Joseph completed the scoring for Raiders.
Elliot Black (2), Ben Sollosi and Calvin Dickson hit the Redbridge goals.
Faithfold A extended their lead at the top of Division One to six points with a 4-0 win against Temple Fortune A.
Louis Naughten, Avi Garson, Avi Markiewicz and Gav Lewis scored for Faithfold.
Faithfold took the lead from a free kick when Naughten rose highest to power home a header.
Garson made it 2-0 when he beat two men then curled the ball in from outside the penalty area for his first goal of the season.
Lewis, Yossi Gordon and Zalmy Cohen added impetus after the break as Faithfield bossed the second half for large periods.
Lewis set up Markiewicz who wrong-footed a defender before lashing home.
And after David Garson pulled off a point-blank stop to preserve a clean sheet Faithfold completed the scoring when Gordon and David Leiwy combined down the left wing before 17-year-old Lewis shimmied inside then curled a terrific strike into the corner to seal the win.
“We started sluggish after the long break and took a while to settle” said player-manager Markiewicz. “Our passing was a little off and positioning not quite right but as the first half wore on we began to settle into a rhythm.
“Credit to referee Phil Peters who had an excellent game. He was calm and in control, let play continue when appropriate but was strong when necessary.”
North London Raiders B moved into third spot just a point adrift of Oakwood B following a 5-0 win over Los Blancos.
Blancos dominated the opening 20 minutes before Raiders got a grip on the game through midfield trio Mark Leader, Ricky Lawrence and David Esterkin.
Jake Gilbert grabbed the opening goal when Leader and Esterkin set up an opportunity just before half time.
David Dinkin and Gilbert gave the Blancos centre backs a torrid time as Raiders controlled the second half.
Esterkin was the provider as Dinkin made it 2-0 on 66 minutes. And Gilbert dummied a defender before curling home from Lawrence’s deep cross four minutes later.
Esterkin finished at the back post from a Leader cross and then set up Lawrence who struck home a fifth Raiders goal.
“Both teams looked like they hadn’t played for a while,” said Raiders boss Doron Solomon.
“But it was as complete a performance as we could have hoped and the referee was excellent. He had control of a game played in the right spirit.
“We’ve played Blancos twice in the cups and didn’t do ourselves justice. Seeing everything come together in an excellent team performance makes today’s result all the more satisfying.
Salomon added, “We need to make sure we finish more of the chances we’re creating but we’ve started 2018 encouragingly. We’re looking forward to a busy month of fixtures and the challenge is to ensure we repeat today’s performance against Scrabble on Sunday.”
Redbridge Jewish Care B moved above Scrabble on goal difference following a 4-0 home victory over Ray Abrahams’ team.
The visitors were shorn of 10 first team regulars but decided not to concede the game as Masters players Jon Yantin, Jonny Summerfield and Nigel Goldthorpe plus a stand in goalkeeper turned out.
“Whilst an enormous amount of credit goes to all the lads that played, no team in this league could be without the talent that was unavailable to us and expect to get a result,” said Scrabble boss Abrahams. “I am frustrated because in games we would normally expect to take something from points have slipped away.
“We will battle on and turn our attention to games coming up to turn our recent poor run around and start picking up points to keep us clear of the relegation zone.
Abrahams added, “Fair play to Redbridge, they are a great bunch of lads and took their chances when they presented themselves. We look forward to meeting them again later in the season with more options open to us in terms of our squad.”
Abrahams also praised referee Robert Benardout who continued to officiate despite sustaining a thigh injury early in the game.
Mill Hill Dons maintained a two-point gap at the top of Division Two with a hard fought 2-0 win against mid-table Straw Hats Pirates.
Dons opened the scoring on five minutes after a long throw by Josh Cinna found Ryan Kramer in the box whose shot clipped off the head of Harry Moss into the net.
Dons doubled the lead when centre back Josh Cinna delivered a perfect cross for Moss to nod in a second of the game on 71 minutes.
“We picked up where we left off in 2017 with another three points and clean sheet,” said Dons boss Brandon Hamme.
“The windy conditions and the fact that it was our first game since November made things difficult and the win more impressive. We weren’t at our best going forward but defended superbly throughout.
“It was a very hard fought win,;Straw Hat didn’t make things easy for us.
“Another three points sees us remain top. We know there is still a long way to go but nevertheless there is an extremely positive and buoyant mood around the squad.”
Bayern Mincha stay in second spot after a 3-0 win over Hertswood Vale.
Adam Ellis (2) and Adam Biton struck Bayern’s golden goals.
“We started off the game extremely well with an early goal by Ellis,” said Bayern boss Alon Pinhas.
“We slowed down towards the end of the half but after our team talk went back out and got another early goal scored by Biton to make our lead a bit more comfortable.
“Ellis put the game to bed with about 20 minutes left then was denied a hat-trick when another effort was given offside. Adam Biton was also denied a second with an offside call.
“With a few minutes left, Hertswood had a long effort on goal saved by Joe Nyman tipped on to the crossbar. It was a great save that got him his first Bayern clean sheet.”
Pinhas added, “We won the game reasonably comfortably and are glad to get another three points in our fight for the title. We look forward to next week against Faithfold where we hope to come home with the points.”
Fairlop FC enjoyed a 4-1 away win at FC Team.
James Jaconelli (2), Adam Goldman and Daniel Bean struck to win the points.
“The first half was probably our best 45 minutes of football so far this season,” said Fairlop boss Aaron Dias. “We scored great goals and could have easily had five or six by half time.
“The boys got complacent in the second half and a few sloppy tackles led to a penalty which pegged us back to 3-1, but we responded really well and the win was never in doubt.
“Bean deservedly got the fourth which saw off any hopes of a comeback.
“I’ve challenged the boys to not drop a league point from now until the end of the season. One game down, thirteen to go.”
Dias added, “Adam Goldman in right midfield was back in the side and superb throughout. He opened the scoring with a delightful finish at the back post and assisted in one of JJ’s goals.
“Right back Pierce Prince won his personal battle and made a fantastic interception which set up a counter attack, which led to our second. And there were another two goals for JJ, the boy is untouchable when running at goal.”
Real Hendon picked up a fourth league win with an emphatic 5-1 victory against North London Raiders C.
Gav Noe with a hat-trick, Doron Shooter and Jordan Alex completed the win.
Alex Goodman scored a consolation for Raiders.
Raiders started brightly with Goodman controlling midfield but Hendon defended well then opened the scoring when Gail Kolt and Chaim Gothold set up Noe to score with a right foot snap shot on 15 minutes.
The trio combined again for Real’s second when Noe headed home. And soon it was 3-0 when Alex sent a cross into the penalty box for Doron Shooter to slot home.
Hendon came out strongly after the break and pressure told quickly when Benny Goldberg teed up Noe only to be scythed down. Rafi Addlestone’s 25-yard free kick was saved but Noe dinked in the loose ball.
After Raiders grabbed a goal, Alex produced a sublime finish for goal number five.
“Noe hit a perfect hat trick and was the main difference between the two sides,” said Hendon player-manager Rafi Addlestone. “Alex though got the goal of the game. Picking the ball up near half way, he powered past three defenders then dinked it over the keeper.
“It was a big game today facing a Raiders side who had run us over last month. It was a very positive performance and we now look to take winning momentum into the next fixture, away to similarly inconsistent Catford and Bromley.”
Sharpshooter Moses Seitler scored a hat-trick for Hendon United Sports as they knocked Maccabi London Lions White 5-3 out of the Cyril Anekstein Cup.
Zac Lewis and Avi Korman also hit the target in a thrilling all-Premier third round clash.
Hendon player-manager Greg Corin described the victory as a “huge win” for the team.
“We played against a good side that drafted in real quality players, but the strength of our team really shone through and we were deserved winners in the end,” he said.
“The focus will be on the incredible forward ability of Seitler and Lewis who in my opinion are the two best forward players in the league. But there were many excellent performers behind them on the pitch with a special mention to Russ Corin in goal who pulled off a couple of high quality saves.”