Hap TA mired in slump with loss to Ashdod

Third straight setback for Reds; Petah Tikva derby set to kick off; Beitar in for tough test against Mac TA

Ironi Kiryat Shmona players (in blue) celebrate after taking a 2-0 lead over Maccabi Haifa during a 3-1 win at Sammy Ofer Stadium. (photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona players (in blue) celebrate after taking a 2-0 lead over Maccabi Haifa during a 3-1 win at Sammy Ofer Stadium.
(photo credit: ERAN LUF)
Hapoel Tel Aviv dropped to its third consecutive defeat in the Premier League on Sunday night, losing 3-1 at Ashdod SC.
Hapoel has completely lost its way in recent weeks and finds itself just four points off the relegation zone following Sunday’s setback, although it is also just one point back of Ashdod in fourth place.
The reds have dropped each of their past three matches by a 3-1 score-line and were deservedly beaten on by Ashdod.
David Solari gave the hosts the lead in the 28th minute, with Yero Bello netting a brace (73, 90), which rendered Shoval Gozlan’s goal in the 85th minute as meaningless.
“Hapoel always wants to be among the top teams and we will continue to do everything we can to achieve that,” said Hapoel coach Asi Domb.
“We will try and fix what needs fixing and to correct this situation.”
After claiming just a single victory from its first eight league contests, Ashdod has found its form, claiming its third win over its past four matches on Sunday.
Ashdod may have climbed up to fourth place with the victory, but is still just six points above Hapoel Petah Tikva in last place.
“We had a small crisis, but I think we came through it respectively,” said Ashdod coach Nir Klinger. “We didn’t play so badly in our defeats either and we remained calm, and that is how you overcome a crisis.”
On Monday, Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Beitar Jerusalem at Sammy Ofer Stadium in Haifa due to the punishment it was handed for its part in the abandonment of the Tel Aviv derby.
Maccabi is aiming to move back up to second place and close back to within two points of league-leader Ironi Kiryat Shmona.
Apart from defeats to its main rivals for the title - Kiryat Shmona and Hapoel Beersheba - Maccabi has won all its matches this season, excluding the abandoned derby.
Beitar snapped a three-match losing streak with a 3-1 victory over Hapoel Petah Tikva last week and will have to find a way to stop Eran Zahavi. The midfielder found the back of the net for the 14th straight league match in Maccabi’s 3-1 triumph over Bnei Sakhnin last week, taking his overall tally over that period to 21 goals, 12 of them this season.
Ofer Stadium is set to be packed with 30,000 fans on Monday and Maccabi coach Pako Ayestaran is looking forward to the electric atmosphere.
“The players are really raring to go and the fans can give us a real push in this match,” said Pako.
Also Monday, Maccabi Petah Tikva hosts Hapoel Petah Tikva in the hotly- contested local derby.
Maccabi can climb back up to fourth place with a draw or better while Hapoel will be looking to move off the bottom of the standings.