Jerusalemback Up to Second; Ra’anana’s Run Continues

Last week in Olim soccer league.

David Bernstein

Jerusalem shook off a slow start on a wet Saturday to double up on host Modi’in 4-2 and move back into second place in the SportsDirect Olim League. 

Both sides came into this fixture on the back of high-level performances the previous week, and they seemed rather flat during a goalless first half. Jerusalem broke the deadlock early in the second half, with Zack Lewis finding the extra yard to slot the ball past Kovalov four minutes after the restart. Three minutes later, some clever play from Gav Cohen ended in a cut-back for Moishe Lewis, who made no mistake to make it 2-0.

But a minute later, with Jerusalem looking to run away with the game, its makeshift defense was caught napping. Modi’in hit straight back as Beni Sragov found himself unmarked at the back post to slot in the simplest of finishes and halve Jerusalem’s lead. Jerusalem then hit back straight away to restore its two-goal advantage, with Yehuda Korman finding Moishe Lewis, who powered his way into the box to make it 3-1.

The pace of the game then slowed for the next quarter hour, but even after the offenses picked up it took until the final minutes of regulation time for the scoring to resume. With three minutes of normal time left, Zack Lewis added his second, and Jerusalem’s fourth, as the ball broke to him and with the Kovalov in no-mans land, lobbed the ball into the empty net for an insurmountable 4-1 advantage.

As the game approached its final minute, Matan Kroizer hit another consolation goal for Modi’in when the ball fell to him on the edge of the box, and he finished with aplomb, smashing the ball through the crowded area, in what was the goal of the game.

“After the incredibly high level and highly entertaining game that we saw last week against Ra’anana, it looked like everyone out there was hung over,” commented Jerusalem’s joint manager, Danny Newman. “We have a talented crop of players, and it is a test of great sides that they are still able to churn out three points when playing poorly.”

Real Athletico Jerusalem 4, Ra’anana 6

Ra’anana continued its fine run of form with a convincing victory over Real in Jerusalem on Saturday night. The margin of victory does not give a true reflection of Ra’anana’s superiority, however, with Real clawing its way back into the game at crucial points to make Ra’anana work hard for the three points. 

Ra’anana started off quickly and took the lead after just four minutes. A fine run from midfield created space, with the ball played to Aviad Ben Meir on the edge of the box. He beat his man before unleashing an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box that flew into the top left corner.

Real equalized after a long clearance from its goalkeeper was met by a flick on by the striker. The ball was pulled back from the byline and dispatched beyond the despairing dive of Sapir Marom. Ra’anana responded with relentless pressure that paid off when Ben Meir was the first to react after the Real goalkeeper could only parry a shot from Haim Elimelech, making it 2-1.

Some 40 minutes into the game, a failure to clear the ball resulted in the ball dropping to Real’s Jacky Duek on the edge of the box. He hit a fine drive into the bottom corner, bringing the score level again.

Ra’anana broke the deadlock five minutes into the second half with the third goal for Ben Meir, who quickly secured another to make it 4-2. Ben Meir’s strike partner, Gabi Kanichowsky, soon got on the score sheet for a 5-2 lead. Against the run of play Real pulled a goal back as sloppiness in midfield saw Ra’anana lose the ball, and Tomer Amos placed the ball into the corner from outside the area. Suddenly Ra’anana looked a little nervous, with 25 minutes still to play.

However Aviad then added another goal with 10 minutes remaining, with a composed finish on the half-volley from a tight angle to make it 6-3. Real completed the scoring with an excellent header from a free kick by Meni Dueck with the last kick of the game.

“We told the boys at half time to keep the ball on the floor. They executed perfectly and we came out on top,” Ra’anana co-manager Avi Wesienberg said after the game.

Jaffa 4, Ashdod 3

Both Jaffa and visiting Ashdod were looking to climb up the table and stay among the leading bunch, and it was not until nearly the end of the match that Jaffa came out on top, 4-3.

Jaffa had control from minute one and within 20 minutes was ahead 2-0 from two well-worked moves that led to goals from Daniel Berkeley and Rotem Elkalay. Towards the end of the first half, Ashdod got its first real chances and they pounced on them. Two goals from two set pieces meant 2-2 at halftime.

The second half started with a great tempo and both teams were pushing forward. Jaffa went in front again through another Berkeley goal from just outside the box. Just as it looked that Jaffa was finally cruising, another defensive mix-up saw the Ashdod striker equalize again.

The last 15 minutes were all about Jaffa pushing forward and eventually triumphing. A wonderful Nir Hacohen run and cross found the ever-hungry Rani Madmon, who netted the dramatic winner.