Jerusalem won a tough battle between two of the in-form sides in the league on Saturday night.
The hosts were depleted, with a number of first-team regulars sidelined through injury, including top scorer Zack Lewis. Jaffa, the league’s hottest side with four wins on the bounce and unbeaten for over a month, knew that a win would lift them to second, after being bottom only a few weeks ago.
On 26 minutes, Jaffa thought it had taken a precious lead when a good shot was tipped onto the bar before bouncing into the path of Sam Silverberg to tap in. The whistle came immediately, with Silverberg adjudged to have been offside. The first half petered out with a few more half-chances, but the score line remained goalless at the interval.
The second half continued in a similar vein with both defenses on top. In the 63rd minute, Jaffa felt hard done by a penalty shout that may have hit a Jerusalem defender’s arm in the box, but with many people in the area and the ref unsighted, nothing was given. That served as a wake-up call and Jerusalem started getting on top of the game with a few decent chances.
The deadlock was finally broken in the 71st minute when Daniel Cohen cut the ball back into the path of Akiva Zneimer, who shot into the corner to make it 1-0 to Jerusalem. The hosts continued to have the slight edge, catching Jaffa on the counter as they pushed up to try and force an equalizer. With 10 minutes to go, Daniel Cohen was rewarded for his constant hard work, as he was released and scored from a tight angle to make it 2-0.
The last 10 minutes saw Jaffa take the game to Jerusalem as they desperately tried to get back into the game. They almost halved the deficit in the 86th minute, only to be denied by an excellent save from Daniel Boerstra in the Jerusalem goal. In the 88th minute, Jaffa was rewarded for its persistent never-say-die attitude, as a well worked move was expertly finished by Adi Ginsberg, to leave a frantic last few minutes. Jerusalem held on for a hard-earned three points that saw them leapfrog over Jaffa in the table. Man of the match was Jerusalem’s Daniel Cohen.
England 3, Real Jerusalem 2
Also Saturday, a late goal from Roy Bihi Zenou, set up by man-of-the-match Nicky Plotnek, was the difference as England FC edged out Real Jerusalem in a thrilling 3-2 battle.
The game started evenly enough, with Real looking to continue a fine run of form and England looking to improve on last weeks’ draw. The first 20 minutes were even, with several midfield battles developing but not much in the way of attacks. After struggling to get their passing game going, England, driven by Plotnek and Kalms in center midfield, took hold of the match. Pouncing on several loose passes led to a couple of excellent counter attacks, with the last one ending with a great solo goal from Gabi Balulu for a 1-0 England lead.
Real reacted well, and England were made to look far from their best toward the end of the half. After several missed opportunities, a short free kick, followed by a fine long-range strike from the Real center back Tomer Amos levelled the score just before half-time.
The second half was another even affair, with Real slightly dominating possession but England looking the more dangerous of the two thanks to some more efficient counter-attacking football. On 65 minutes Real took a 2-1 lead out of nowhere, with Yacki Duwek scoring a 50-yard free kick that sailed over the England keepers’ flailing hand.
This time it was England’s turn to fight back. Spurred on by player-manager Terry Newman, England turned up the pressure and were rewarded when a long-range strike from striker Omri Hamama slipped out of the keepers’ hands and rolled over the line.
Both sets of players began to tire, but one more energetic run from the former villa man, Plotnek, ended with a perfect cross that Bihi Zenou expertly nodded in. England managed to hold on until the end and return to winning ways.
Elsewhere Bambi beat Ashdod 4-2 in the Teamsnap Cup.