Towards the end of February we completed our first coaching course, we instantly asked for another as finances at Fahm are healthier than that of another club we could be at right now. Thankfully they accepted! Initially I debated looking at other jobs when this one was complete, but our rep going from 5% to 10% and only half a star, I decided to see out the full season, as we are top of the league after 25 games. A league title would instantly help our standing, fingers crossed we don’t drop off at the end of the season.
Before the split
The league splits after 30 games, before you play the final 7. So here’s how thing’s shaped up in that time, we’d hit a weird patch of form, teams we should be beating we started to struggle against, while the bigger games, such as 3rd placed Beitar Tel-Aviv, we were comfortable in and should’ve won by more.
Form was exceptional in the final 10, with just one defeat, annoyingly the draws were frustrating ones but with the form as good as it was, I can’t complain
Hapoel Ra’anana didn’t drop off the entire time. It looks like it could be us 2 fighting for the title in the final 7 games. However, with just 4 points between us and 3rd it’s going to be interesting with 7 games to go.
The final 7
Match One: Hapoel Afula – A bizarre first half saw both sides get a penalty, and both miss! We go in at half time 0-0. We huffed and puffed but could not break through, it ends 0-0, Ra’anana win their game so we drop to second before playing them next.
Match Two: Hapoel Ra’anana – the big one – With the first result, this one became a must win. A win would put us top of the table again, so no pressure! We scored inside 40 seconds, CAM Jabarin was left unmarked from 20 yards out, Tako shifts it to him and with one touch out of his feet he fires low into the bottom corner to give us the perfect start. Ra’anana nearly strike back early in the 16th minute, a free-kick swung in saw them hit the bar from the resulting header. Some neat work resulted in Ganon being slipped in by Tako one on one, the winger who has been in superb form recently could only manage a weak effort which the GK tips away for the corner. Ganon again got in behind and this time hit the crossbar, it feels like if one of these doesn’t go in it’s going to haunt us. THAT MAN JOOF! Unmarked at the back post, Kutalia drifts wide right and plays in a perfect cross which Joof volleys home to give us a 2-0 lead at HT.
Kutalia makes it 3 with just over an hour played. A dream scenario which providing we manage it well, will give us a big 3 points. Ra’anana grab one back in the 70th minute but we see the rest of the game out to win 3-1, as you can see from the stats, it’s a much deserved victory!
Match Three: Beitar Tel-Aviv – 3rd placed, with a 4 point lead, a win here would put us in an incredible position for a top 2 finish. Ganon continues his good form as he puts us 1-0 up inside 5 minutes, giving us another early lead. In the 25th minute Joof doubled our lead with one of the most remarkable goals, reminiscent of Heung-Min Son against Burnley, Joof collects the ball on the edge of the box and just drives all the way through 4 bodies along his way before slotting home.
After another late scare, we survive and win 2-1, giving us a 7 point game ahead of 3rd with 4 games to go. Having played 2nd and 3rd we couldn’t be in a better position.
Match Four: Hapoel Petach-Tikva – After 2 huge results, it was our turn to concede early as Tikva took the lead inside the opening 5 minutes. We got back on level terms just after the 20 minute mark, after a corner was headed straight back to taker Ganon, CB Abeba was left unmarked in the box and expertly volleyed into the bottom corner. Just 4 minutes later Ganon gave us the lead through a direct free-kick, the turn around was well and truly complete in the 39th minute, as Joof scored from a near-post corner, panic over.
A lapse in concentration at the back led to substitute Ben Levi giving away a penalty in the 76th minute. The resulting penalty was scored meaning yet more late drama and us having to try and cling on to 3 points. It was 3-3 soon after, some really poor defending led to Tikva knocking it round us like prime Barcelona and giving us 7 minutes to salvage 3 points from this game. We had the ball in the back of the net just a minute later, but the lino decided to ruin the fun and deem young forward Amerr offside. It ends 3-3 and it’s 2 points dropped, meaning Ra’anana take top spot off us once again. Seemingly they don’t lose other than to us.
Match Five: Hapoel Ramat-Gan – 3 points here would secure a top 2 finish and automatic promotion! We have an early goal ruled out for a bizarre offside call, Ganon plays the ball into Joof who fires home, the linesman and ref decide Kutalia was the intended target and deem the goal offside? Can’t make heads or tails of it honestly, hope the picture helps.
Joof wasn’t to be denied though, another goal for the wide-man, firing from the left hand side of the box on his left, across the keeper and into the top corner. After a half of dominance we get sucker punched on the break from our own corner (another FM classic this year), so we enter the break 1-1.
Kutalia scores goal of the season!!! Moved out to the left due to a knock to Joof, Kutalia picks up the ball on the left, cuts inside to the edge of the area and curls one into the top corner. The perfect goal to show what an inside forward can do. Our lead lasted all of 40 seconds, as Daniel Mama was left with the whole of the right-wing free and he fired expertly into the top left corner.
It ends 2-2 and it’s another 2 points dropped, but we move TOP of the league (on goal difference) after Tikva beat Ra’anana! Finally some luck goes our way!
Match Six: Hapoel Iksal – Joof gives us the lead, the man is on a mission to secure us this title it feels like. Kutalia doubles out lead early in the second half, fingers crossed we actually hold onto this one after the previous 2 collapses! That man Kutalia secured the 3 points with his second and Fahm’s 3rd of the day just before the hour mark, promotion secured! FULL-TIME 3-0
Match Seven: Nes Ziona – THIS IS IT – win for the title, lose for second place, both incredible for a team predicted 11th, but a title on the CV would do the world of good for our rep.
Having secured an unexpected promotion, our rep went from 10% to 20% which is incredible, that’s from half a star to 1 star rep, while still studying for our next qualification, I wonder if a title will increase it further? This summers job search is sure to be interesting!
We make it to half time at 1-1. The theme of early goals continued with Ziona striking early in the 6th minute, but we soon found our feet in the game, it took a little while but finally we got back on level terms in the 42nd minute. A few chances still came our way, but we were unable to capitalise.
A late 82nd minute winner for Ziona snatches the title from us. We end on a 2-1 loss, a great season but a sickening way to miss out on the title.
UP NEXT… THE SUMMER JOB SEARCH