Miraculous Maccabi survive State League 2

Dominic Paul battles for possession earlier this season. Photo: Mick Ashworth Dominic Paul battles for possession earlier this season. Photo: Mick Ashworth

NORTH Caulfield Maccabi pulled off an escape befitting Houdini to stave off relegation in its final game of the season on Sunday, with a 3-1 away win against Seaford.

Taking 10 points from a possible 15 in its final five matches, Maccabi showed true grit over the last third of the year and with a raft of young talent set to take the next step, the side is hopeful of big things next year.

In front of a huge crowd at Seaford, Maccabi required a win or a draw to ensure State League 2 survival.

And the visitors started the stronger and more purposeful of the two sides, as dynamic forward Dominic Paul put Maccabi 1-0 ahead on two minutes, when he robbed his opponent of the ball and then weighted a precise lob over the stunned Seaford keeper.

Veteran striker Oran Harel had a chance to double his side’s advantage as he strode into a one-on-one, but the keeper got the better of Harel, deflecting the shot, which was then cleared off the goal-line.

North Caulfield looked in full control, with Bradley Blumenthal playing the unfamiliar number 10 role, while ably supported by Rolland Ngalle and hard-man Jonathan Braver. Tal Marom and Alon Esterman were solid in central defence as Maccabi played its finest football for the season.

Maccabi shot to a two-goal lead early in the second half, as Ngalle flicked on a long ball from Ariel Lashansky, into the path of Harel, who finished clinically from close-range.

Seaford managed to pull a goal back against the run of play off a well-placed header, initiating a change-up from Maccabi, which brought on Benji Schneider to replace Blumenthal. Schneider made his presence felt immediately, winning his side a penalty, which Harel coolly converted.

The final whistle sounded with Maccabi safely sitting above the bottom two, thanks to its last month of football when the side rallied and stood tall.

With the Reserves securing the runners-up pennant and the Thirds winning the league, the club looks in great shape for the 2015 season.

AJN STAFF