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BY ADAM CAILLER
PETER MORRISON NATIONAL TROPHY SEMI-FINAL
Manchester Maccabi 2nd ...... 0
Liverpool Haroldeans ........ 1
LIVERPOOL Haroldeans manager Mike Bloomberg was still taking in his side’s 1-0 Peter Morrison Trophy semi-final victory three days later.
Sunday’s victory at Brooklands, thanks to an Eden Harris header, saw the reigning Manchester Jewish Soccer League champions make history as the first league side to reach the final of the national trophy for a generation — if not longer.
Bloomberg told Sportsworld: “The boys exceeded my expectations. I thought with us having Maxim Green and captain Paul Harris missing, we would possibly struggle.
“The spirit and the will to win were phenomenal. It was our third clean sheet in a week and the whole back four was brilliant — Adam Cross and Ben Kersh at centre half were fantastic.
“They decided they would not be beaten and we wanted it more.”
The game was a scrappy affair, with neither side having too many chances to shout about.
It was a midfield battle with Maccabi starting the better. The perceived gulf in class shone through in the first half as Maccabi played their typical passing game.
But they could not break through the Haroldeans wall.
The only chance of note for Maccabi was a close-range header which went into the side netting, while Max Barnett — who scored in the quarter-final victory a week earlier — showed the visitors carried a threat.
But the breakthrough came two minutes before half time, when Maccabi’s defence switched off, allowing Harris to head home a corner.
The hosts never really threatened in the second half, while Haroldeans’ usually lethal strike force of Adam Shiffman and Barnett lacked potency.
Tempers flared in the last 20 minutes, with red cards shown to Haroldeans’ Zack Goldsmith and Maccabi’s Gabe Silva for “verbals” towards the referee.
Goldsmith’s suspension will take place in an MJSL fixture, so he will be available to play in the Morrison final at Wingate & Finchley’s Maurice Rebak Stadium on Sunday, May 6.
There was also an after-match scuffle between opposing players, but that was calmed quickly thanks to the intervention of nearby supporters.
Bloomberg said the club’s turnaround in 18 months is “staggering”.
He said: “When you think that last season we were debating whether we could even get a side out, it really is remarkable to have come this far.
“They never cease to amaze me. The commitment they have is incredible and the drive they have shows they are up for everything.
“The players have a private WhatsApp group where they had been pumping each other up for days before the game.
“I was hoping for a good show and I wouldn’t have been overly disappointed if we lost.
“The final will be tough, but after Sunday, who knows.
“It’s a one-off where anything can happen, so nothing would surprise me.”
And MJSL chairman Paul Rose praised Bloomberg’s side.
He said: “We are very proud of Haroldeans.
“They showed all their qualities from last season and this season as our reigning champions, and played with desire and commitment, which ultimately got them over the line.
“Two seasons ago they were on the verge of calling it a day, with cancelled fixtures and a doubt whether they would continue, but thanks to the likes of Fraser Saville, Trevor Harris and Mike Bloomberg, the club has pulled through difficult times to achieve so much.”
The hope of an all-northern final was dashed later that day when London Lions White, who allegedly had players from their Saturday league side involved, beat Manchester Maccabi 1st 1-0 in the quarter final.
Max Kyte’s deflected second half strike was the difference over a scrappy 90 minutes as Lions booked their place in the last four — where they will face North London Raiders A.
It’s not all negative for Maccabi, however, as the 1st team are still in with a chance of winning the Cheshire and Manchester Sunday League Division One trophy.
They are currently in third place, a point behind leaders RV Athletic with three games remaining.
The two clubs will also face off in the Subsidiary Cup quarter-final on Sunday (11am).
Maccabi’s Yellow side picked up an impressive win in the MJSL, beating South Manchester Sports 2nd 4-0.
Ben Gould bagged a hat-trick, while Jason Linz was also on target.
And South Manchester Sports 1st drew 2-2 with Leeds Maccabi.
Louis Rawlings and Mark Stewart scored for the home side, while Tim Zoltie and Harry Landy levelled the scores for the Yorkshiremen.
The rain-hit Mike Samberg Israel six-a-side tournament will now take place at the end of the season, on Thursday, May 24.