25’ ❌ Otzma Holon penalty saved by Gianni Conti
31’ ⚽️ 1-0 Azanao Aristo goal, Roey Sartov assist
77’ ⚽️ 2-0 Ron Sharifi goal, Jaime Kauffman assist
82’ ⚽️ 2-1 Otzma Holon goal
90’ ⚽️ 2-2 Otzma Holon goal (penalty)
Top row (from left to right): Ricky Horvath, Fernando Zatz, Evgeny Kart, Ron Sharifi, Renan Prais, Mono Bechini, Roey Sartov, Gaston Hilman, Fekade Golantau, Leo Gewertz and David Pernitchi.
Bottom row (from left to right): Vlad Kart, Yemer Artsew, Jaime Kauffman, Azanao Aristo, Sam Sank and Gianni Conti.
On the face of it, a draw with one of the league's strongest teams, who were Liga Gimmel champions in 2019 and got relegated from Liga Bet last season, seems a good result. However, being 2-0 up with 10 minutes to go means it was two points lost rather than one gained.
Nevertheless, there were lots of positives to take from Friday's home draw with Otzma Holon and the players involved performed very well, in what was a small squad due to injuries and absentees.
Head Coach David Pernitchi shuffled his starting lineup due to a number of players out and encouraged his players to believe in themselves following last week's disappointing defeat.
That belief was seen after just 5 minutes when Uruguayan keeper Gianni Conti saved a penalty from the league's top scorer after captain Sam Sank had brought him down in the box.
Holon had the bigger share of possession in the first half, but we defended well and looked dangerous on the break. One of those counter-attacks allowed us to break the deadlock when Roey Sartov made a mazy run into the box before feeding Azanao Aristo to score past the Holon keeper with his left foot.
Pernitchi urged his team to carry on in the same fashion after half-time and we looked more comfortable as the game went on. Substitute Jaime Kauffman held onto the ball just outside the Holon box, before finding Ron Sharifi who hit a glorious chipped effort into the top corner to double our lead.
Yet, the celebrations were soon muted as Holon found a way back into the game when a corner was not cleared properly and they then completed the comeback in the final minute of the game after a controversial penalty was awarded. Gianni could not match his first-half heroics and the game was tied.
Next week's match with HaKoach Ramat Gan will mark the end of the first round of matches and an opportunity to stake our claim as a playoff contender if we can claim victory.