Last Saturday saw old foes England A and Jerusalem lock horns in Jaffa, with the champions looking to avenge their defeat in the capital earlier in the season and close the gap on Ra'anana at the top of the table.
- England unveils strengthened squad for Olim World Cup
- Ra’anana outclasses England in crunch top-of-table clash
- Ra’anana faces second-place Jerusalem in match of the day
- England and Jaffa to meet in battle to keep title aspirations alive
Despite each side sporting three members of the triumphant England Olim World Cup squad, the game provided very few clear-cut chances and ended 1-1, with both sides limited mainly to long-range efforts.
Jerusalem shaded a very tight first half, with the breakthrough coming from a set-piece halfway through the half, when veteran center-back Danny Newman headed in from a corner to score against his former club. It was his first competitive goal since last summer's Olim World Cup final.
If Jerusalem edged the first half, it was England that upped the tempo after the break, having the lion's share of the possession. They got a deserved equalizer about 15 minutes from time, when Roy Ben Zehou converted from a corner.
Ashdod 0 FC Jaffa 2
FC Jaffa went into last weekend's clash in Ashdod knowing a win was essential to keep their faint hopes of a league challenge alive. The team delivered with a 2-0 victory.
A scrappy opening 30 minutes saw both teams muster little offensively. However, Jaffa managed to break the deadlock shortly after. Nir HaCohen picked up a loose ball in the middle of the pitch, and his delightful through ball saw Rani Madmon one on one with the Ashdod goalkeeper. With the goal at his mercy, Madmon set up Daniel Berkeley with a simple tap into an open net.
The goal sparked Jaffa into life. Eyal Hoffman thought he'd secured that crucial second goal with a tremendous bit of skill in the box, but the referee whistled for handball.
Jaffa's goalkeeper, Simon Davies, was called into action in the last minute of the half, making a smart save after Ashdod had broken through Jaffa's resolute defense.
Jaffa continued to press in the second half. With Ashdod forced to look for an equalizer, Jaffa started finding more space and their patience finally paid off.
Picking up the ball around the halfway line, Man of the Match Hoffman eluded two defenders before finishing off the game with a simple lob over the onrushing goalkeeper.
With Stephen Caffrey and Rob Pearl dominating the middle of defense, Jaffa's lead was safe.
Jaffa's manager, Simon Berkley, commented afterward: "For the first time this season, it felt like we really played well together as a team."
With seven games remaining, Jaffa are six points behind league-leading Ra'anana."If we can keep this level of performance going till the end," Berkley stated, "we can still make a title charge."