Soccer / Premier League

Be’er Sheva Held by Stubborn Ra’anana

Maccabi Tel Aviv tops table ahead of derby.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva missed out on a chance to temporarily take top spot in the Premier League table as Hapoel Ra’anana’s stout defense kept the scoreline goalless in the Negev capital yesterday.

Maccabi Tel Aviv, which faces crosstown rival Hapoel tomorrow, will finish the first round of games between all the league’s teams in first place, irrespective of the result of the derby game at Bloomfield Stadium.

Be’er Sheva has been impressive this season, with some free-flowing attacking soccer and quality marksmanship.

However, this outing in a cold, blustery, wet Negev capital was a different affair, as captain Elyaniv Barda, Dovev Gabay and Maor Buzaglo tried repeatedly to break through Ra’anana’s stubborn defense.

And when Be’er Sheva did manage to get a shot on goal, Ra’anana’s goalkeeper, Gal Nir, was in fine form.

Only 2,500 fans braved the wintry conditions in the Westerville Stadium. Despite the conditions and lack of goalmouth action, the home supporters urged their team on throughout, but to no avail.

Hapoel Be’er Sheva coach Elisha Levy sounded frustrated after the game. “We sat on them for half the game and should have scored, but made the wrong decisions. They came here to get a draw, and it was very difficult to crack their defensive lineup.”

All in all, however, the coach is satisfied with his team’s performance. “I would give the team a ‘very good’ grade for the first round of games,” he said.

Yesterday’s fixture list was shorter than usual, after the inclement weather conditions in the north forced the games between Bnei Sakhnin and Beitar Jerusalem, and Kiryat Shmona and Bnei Yehuda to be postponed until Tuesday.

Maccabi Petah Tikva rescued a point in the 94th minute of its basement encounter with Hapoel Haifa, when Dani Preda snuck in to equalize luckless Haifa's goal through Ahad Azam.

In the day’s other Premier League game, Ashdod and Hapoel Acre played out a game best described by its 0-0 scoreline.

Nir Keidar