Bnei Yehuda is hoping to finally turn its cursed season around when it hosts Ironi Kiryat Shmona on Saturday in Premier League action at Bloomfield Stadium.
Rock-bottom Bnei Yehuda looked to be heading out of the relegation zone on Sunday before a dreadful mistake by goalkeeper Dele Aiyenugba in the sixth minute of stoppage time resulted in a Gal Cohen own goal and gifted Maccabi Haifa a 2-2 draw.
Bnei Yehuda still remains just a single point adrift of safety, but Sunday’s extraordinary equalizer at Kiryat Eliezer Stadium means it has dropped an astounding 14 points in the final five minutes of its matches so far this season, conceding in dramatic fashion in eight of its 25 games to date.
It was also the third time this season that the team had failed to take all three points after opening a 2-0 cushion, with Bnei Yehuda squandering a total of 23 points due to its failure to convert leads to victories.
Bnei Yehuda’s capitulation in the final minutes of matches has reached such extremes that it somehow managed to suffer 2-1 defeats to Hapoel Beersheba in both their meetings this season despite leading both games 1-0 as late as the 87th minute.
Bnei Yehuda’s misery on Sunday was compounded by the horrific knee injury suffered by midfielder Rafi Dahan on Ruben Rayos’s vicious two-legged challenge, leaving coach Yossi Abuksis shorthanded, as well as with the daunting mission to try and lift his players yet again.
Despite allowing dejecting goals time and again, Bnei Yehuda – which hails from Tel Aviv’s Hatikva neighborhood –has lost only once over its past eight matches, although it has also only won twice.
Third-place Kiryat Shmona, on the other hand, has played its best soccer of the season in recent weeks, winning four of its past five contests and going unbeaten over its last six games.
Elsewhere Saturday, Hapoel Beersheba looks to keep the pressure on league-leader Maccabi Tel Aviv when it visits Hapoel Ra’anana in Netanya.
Beersheba is targeting its ninth victory from the past 10 matches which will see it close to within a single point of Maccabi, which doesn’t face Hapoel Tel Aviv in the derby until Monday.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Haifa hosts Maccabi Petah Tikva, Beitar Jerusalem welcomes Bnei Sakhnin and Ashdod SC visits Hapoel Acre.
Hapoel Ramat Hasharon hosts Maccabi Haifa on Sunday.