Soccer / Olim League / England FC defeats Ashdod to move past rival
Jerusalem shoots down league champion-elect Bambi in cup semifinal thriller.
A heated battle between England FC and Ashdod finished 3-1 to the home side last weekend, with England leapfrogging its rival in the Olim League table.
A shaky start from England saw the French opposition dominate the early periods of the game. Indeed, it took half a dozen top drawer saves from Roy Meron to keep the game scoreless. However, England broke the deadlock against the run of play, a good passing move down the left seeing Yonni Shelmerdine poke the ball into the open net after a fine ball across goal.
England’s captain for the evening, Motti Colman – still reeling from a dangerous foul a few minutes earlier – doubled England’s lead with a phenomenal effort. The central midfielder took the ball on the half volley and, with the outside of his foot, hit a rocket into the net from 40 yards out.
After halftime, Ashdod continued to press and its pressure paid off when it was awarded a penalty following a defensive mix-up at the back for England. Ashdod’s Mike Grab-Smid converted the spot kick, which gave the away side the momentum.
However, Colman grabbed his second of the night with an individual goal, reminiscent of Paul Gascoigne’s goal for the English national side against Scotland in Euro 96. After England’s third goal, the game turned nasty and bookings were given on both sides. The game ended with Ashdod being given another penalty, but Meron continued his outstanding form by saving the spot kick.
Bye bye, Bambi
Cup holder Jerusalem progressed to the cup final at the expense of Bambi, the presumptive league champion, in a highly competitive semifinal played in Modi’in.
On the back of a 5-1 win last week that all but sealed its first league title, Bambi came into this game in the knowledge that it was just two games away from the first ever Olim League and cup double.
Jerusalem, which has been plagued with injuries throughout the season, knew that with a near full-strength side at its disposal – for only the third time in 2014 – it would pose a completely different challenge to the weakened side humiliated by the same opposition just seven days earlier.
Despite missing playmaker Gav Cohen and captain Dan Kosky, Jerusalem started brightest. After a few half chances, Daniel Cohen was released on the left. He outmuscled his marker to cross the ball into the path of Moishe Lewis, who put the cupholders 1-0 up.
After a few more half chances for each side, Jerusalem’s defense was punished for ball watching when it called an offside. However, Aviv Zemer had timed his run perfectly to get in behind the defense and lob the ball over Daniel Boerstra in the Jerusalem goal for 1-1.
Jerusalem almost hit straight back, as it upped its attacking game, with Amit Dinowitz expertly denied by the Bambi keeper. Jerusalem piled on further pressure, but failed to get past the keeper.
Just before the half hour, Moishe Lewis was released with a nice through ball on the edge of the area. He made no mistake for his and Jerusalem’s second. 2-1.
Moments later, Zack Lewis had a chance to make it three, but was again denied by the keeper.
The deserved third goal came in the 37th minute, when Natan Wiesenberg rose highest to head in a corner to stun Bambi and make it 3-1.
Bambi almost struck straight back, only for Boerstra to expertly tip the shot onto the post. That let off awoke Jerusalem from its complacency, and it ended the half very much in the ascendancy, in search of a fourth. Akiva Zneimer had the best chance just before the break, only for his goal-bound shot to be denied by a last-ditch block by a defender.
In the 55th minute, a moment of brilliance from Zemer pulled Bambi back into the game. He volleyed a cross first time into the top left hand corner for one of the best goals of the season, for his and Bambi’s second of the night, showing why he is currently the league’s leading marksman. But Bambi could get no closer.
“Despite missing a couple of key players, we were very close to full strength,” said Jerusalem comanager Danny Newman. “We got our tactics spot on, never let Bambi get into its stride and I felt we were the better side in the first half.”
Elsewhere, Real Jerusalem beat Modi’in 3-1.
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