Modiin manager Jamie Lazarus
Modiin manager Jamie Lazarus Photo by David Bernstein
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Modi’in produced a fantastic performance last Thursday night to beat Ra’anana 3-2 away, which keeps them well in contention for a title challenge.

A little further down south, this year’s Tel Aviv derby didn’t fail to disappoint despite both teams going through early-season struggles, with Jaffa FC scoring four second-half goals to overturn a 2-0 halftime deficit and win 4-3. In Jerusalem, the hosts drew with visiting Aviv City 5-5.

There was little to separate Modi’in and Ra’anana as the game started off at a frantic pace. Both teams has good efforts, but it was Modi’in that eventually broke the deadlock, as new signing Moshe Lianido lobbed the Ra’anana keeper in the 20th minute.

Ra’anana continued their free-flowing attacking soccer and were awarded a penalty after a Modi’in defender was adjudged to handle the ball in the area. The league’s top goal scorer, Aviad Ben Meir, stepped up and was fortunate to score as Modi’in’s keeper got a hand to the ball but was unable to keep it out of the net. Ra’anana continued applying pressure, once hitting the bar, but was still unable to score the vital second goal. Modi’in responded five minutes before halftime through a header from Yonatan Yourno’s cross.

In the second half, Modi’in come out the stronger, playing lovely one-touch passes all over the pitch. Their style of soccer was rewarded as Yoni Reiner scored to take Modi’in 3-1 ahead. However, Ra’anana were far from finished and benefited from a misplaced Modi’in pass as Nathan Ben Ari pulled a goal back. This resulted in a nervy final 10 minutes for both teams, and Ra’anana had a chance in the last minute to draw level but Modi’in keeper Iliyah Kovalov made an outstanding save at his near post.

Modi’in co-managers Jamie Lazarus and David Bruce were ecstatic with their team’s performance. “We had a few new players tonight and they slotted in just perfectly into our system and style of play,” said Bruce.

Lazarus added: “This is a massive result for the lads. Ra’anana have a great team, but we showed amazing character to hold on for the victory.”

Jaffa 4, England 3

The Tel Aviv derby started off at a furious pace, with England repeatedly testing Jaffa’s Yochanan El Charar from a distance. Jaffa struggled to match England’s intensity, and was duly punished in the 19th and 21st minutes when Josh Portnoi and Tal Stern got past lax defending on corners.

Despite the halftime score, Jaffa was confident the game could be turned. “We knew if we could get a quick goal,” assistant manager Simon Davies explained, “we’d get something out of the game.”

Within a minute of the restart, Josh Silverberg headed in an Elias Sandler corner and momentum had switched. Jaffa continued to pressurize England, and were rewarded again in the 64th minute when Silverberg again headed in a corner, this time courtesy of Rani Madmon. The next goal would be key, and both teams started playing the soccer one would expect between the heated rivals.

In the 80th minute, another Madmon corner was put in by Yaniv Ishmereni. England responded immediately, with the excellent Tal Stern scoring off an El Charar mishandle to knot the scores at 3-3. Jaffa’s response was almost as quick, as Daniel Berkeley’s long-range shot found the bottom corner. The last few minutes were chaotic, but with England failing to find the equalizer, Jaffa claimed three important points in their hope to remain in the running for a Top Four spot. 

Jerusalem 5, Aviv City 5

David Raeber of Aviv City scored in the fourth minute of this match, only to be answered by Moishe Lewis two minutes later, setting the tone for a close encounter that ended in a draw. Aviv’s lead would swing between one and two goals for most of the match, but Jerusalem ultimately caught up.

Aviv went up 3-1 on a 17th-minute free kick by Peter Emola and a 56th minute score by Suma off a corner kick, but Jerusalem crawled back in the 72nd minute with a goal by Akiva Zniemer. Just two minutes later Suma put Aviv ahead by two goals again, only to see Zac Lewis cut the lead in half after beating his marker from a corner and flicking the ball in the near post in the 82nd minute.

Aviv seemed to have put the game to bed in the 86th minute as Sagi Meged lobbed David Preston from 40 yards, but Jerusalem would not give up the fight. A lovely move started by Zac Lewis saw a shot spilled by Rob Bradman, and Moishe Lewis tapped in the ball to make it 5-4 to Aviv. In the 90th minute, Moishe Lewis made an unbelievable strike from 40 yards for the final score of 5-5.