The eagerly awaited top-of-the-table clash did not disappoint, with Jerusalem ultimately winning its fifth game on the bounce as long-term runaway leader Ra’anana saw its 10-point lead at the top over Jerusalem whittled down to just one point in the space of three weeks.
Mordy Weiler, who had been ill midweek, passed a late fitness test and was well enough to start. Jerusalem raced out of the traps, breaking down Ra’anana straight from the kickoff. Akiva Zneimer intercepted and passed to Dan Cohen, whose slick pass released his twin brother Gav, who took the ball to the byline and expertly crossed for Weiler to cushion his header in at the back post. Thus, Jerusalem led 1-0 with only 20 seconds on the clock!
Jerusalem deservedly got a second in the 11th minute, when Zneimer picked up the ball in the middle and cut in, letting rip a 25-yard shot that gave Sapir Marom no chance, nicking the post on its way in for 2-0.
Two almost became three with Sapir making an excellent stop to deny Weiler his second of the night. The half petered out, with Jerusalem on the slight ascendency but with neither side posing any further serious threat on goal.
After a frantic opening five minutes to the second half, Ra’anana found another gear.
With just under quarter of an hour to go, Ra’anana was rewarded with the goal it deserved when the ball fell kindly in the crowded box, for the league’s top scorer Ben Meir to notch his 20th goal of the season, with the impenetrable Jerusalem defense finally being breached.
With the bit between their teeth, Ra’anana went in search for the equalizer, but everything they threw at the Jerusalem goal was lapped up by the Jerusalem defense. With a few minutes remaining, Boerstra produced the save of the game, expertly tipping another Ra’anana goal-bound effort round the post.
“We somehow managed to dig deep and get a competitive squad together for this game,” said Jerusalem joint manager Danny Newman. “I felt we dominated the first half, and could have put the game to bed with a great effort at the start of the second. We knew Ra’anana would come back, and to be fair, they were the stronger side in the second half.”
Inter continues winning streak
Inter Tel Aviv extended its winning streak to three games with a riveting 4-3 victory over visiting Ashdod in Jaffa on Saturday night.
The home side made a blitzing start to the match and was 3-0 up within 15 minutes. Player-manager Jerome Katz started it off with a fine taken shot from outside the box, which accurately found its way into the bottom corner. Inter was soon two up, as center back Sam Sank, who had already had one strike cleared off the line, was soon celebrating his second goal of the season after acrobatically volleying home David Schumann’s whipped cross.
The third also came in quick succession as Cedric Membrez rose highest from a James Fattal corner to brilliantly guide the ball into the net.
Ashdod soon found its way back thanks to an Ilan Amar headed goal. However, Inter maintained its three-goal advantage when David Schumann expertly finished a penalty, after Fattal was brought down after a mazy run.
Ashdod went into halftime 4-2 down, with Aviv Bikhar scoring a spot kick after being fouled in the area.
Ashdod’s Bikhar cut the deficit down to just one goal in the second half, but Ashdod could not find the equalizer, allowing Inter to consolidate its hold on third place.
England blanks Modi’in
England shut out its old rival, host Modi’in 5-0, on the pitch where it won the league two years ago.
England’s Gaby Balulu broke open an otherwise conservatively played game in the 15th minute when he crossed from a corner, and England FC’s veteran defender Yoni Sidi headed home from 5 meters to make it 1-0.
England struck again in the 32nd minute when Gaby Balulu netted a second for the visiting team.
Although Modi’in manager Jamie Lazarus changed the formation to 3-5-2 to try to stifle the midfield, England’s captain and man of the match, Tal Stern, dominated the middle of the park to go up 3-0. Marco Laurence, who had just come off the substitute’s bench, then hit a screamer of a shot from outside the area that curled into the bottom-hand corner and beyond the reach of Modi’in goalkeeper Iliyah Kovalov for the 4-0 lead.
England struck again to make it 5-0 as the Iraqi-Yemenite cousins Gaby Balulu and Omri Hamama combined and Hamama netted.
England manager Terry Newman was delighted with the result, saying his players “showed real determination tonight.”