Surprise Olim League leader Ra'anana hosted last year's champion England FC on Saturday night with their tails high after winning all three of their opening games. However, England emerged with a 3-1 victory from the melee.
The game was tense from the off, with neither team able to take control or create any chances of note. It would take something special to break the deadlock, and that is what the traveling fans got when Lewis Kaye laid the ball to Yoni Sidi, who on the volley blasted the ball from 25 yards into the top corner. Ra'anana changed its tactics, pushing more bodies forward toward the end of the half to look to get back into the game. England also sat back far too much, and was punished when with the last kick of the half Gabi Schachat scrambled the ball home from a throw-in that caused havoc in the England box.
England seemed to step up a few gears in the second half, and missed a host off clear-cut opportunities that should have killed the game off, as its players were able to play their flowing soccer and thought they had scored when Daniel Scott rose at the back post to smash a header against the bar. Moment later, Roy was left all alone with only the keeper to beat but dragged his shot wide.
Ra'anana found its passing game early in the second half, but only temporarily. The team came close the England's box only a handful of times, with the closest chance through Ariel Langer's free kick, which scraped the top of the bar. England eventually took a deserved lead when Zac danced his way to the edge of the area and place the ball in the corner, leaving the keeper helpless.
England didn't stop there and was still pressing for another, and while Ariel the England keeper was a spectator all half the Ra'anana keeper was alert to keep out Tal Stern and Yarden Barness. Ra'anana kept men up the field, with midfielder Danny Rebuck moving the ball up toward the forwards, but leaving holes at the back that England just couldn't capitalize on until, with about five minutes to go, the game was put to bed when when Yarden flicked on to Aviv Shapir, who calmly rounded the 'keeper to slot home into the empty net.
"Today we played as a team, and as the season has gone on we have gotten better and better," player-manager Yoni Sidi commented after the game. "I never doubted us and knew it would take time, and as David Beckham said this week - lots of people have been talking about us and it is nice to prove them wrong. We won every ball tonight and could have had a lot more goals, but they will come. I am over the moon with the result and the performance of all the players."
Avi Cohen, Ra'anana's co-manager, said: "We just did not get into the game. England came out strong and deserved the win. With many games still to go during the season, we will need to fix our mistakes and keep our heads up. There are still many games to go."