Northerners keep momentum going at the top

K8 comes back to beat Netanya 3-1 ahead of Monday’s showdown between title rivals Mac TA and Beersheba.

Ironi Kiryat Shmona coach Barak Bachar (photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Ironi Kiryat Shmona coach Barak Bachar
(photo credit: DANNY MARON)
Two goals within two first-half minutes secured Ironi Kiryat Shmona another win and a five-point gap at the top of the Premier League standings on Saturday night.
Kiryat Shmona found itself in a surprise early deficit after Yarin Hasan’s header gave Maccabi Netanya a seventh- minute lead. However, referee Ziv Adler handed the hosts the break they required when he gave them a penalty they didn’t deserve which Roei Kehat duly converted in the 32nd minute.
Less than two minutes later, David Manga put Kiryat Shmona in front, beating four Netanya players to the cross and heading the ball beyond ‘keeper Ariel Harush.
Netanya had its chances to equalize in the second half, but Kehat would wrap-up the three points in the 88th minute to extended Kiryat Shmona’s unbeaten start to the season to 16 matches. Kiryat Shmona can now sit comfortably and watch the two teams positioned bellow it battle for the points at Bloomfield Stadium on Monday night when Maccabi Tel Aviv hosts Hapoel Beersheba.
“We have been in first place since the third week of the season and we want to continue and keep it,” said Kiryat Shmona coach Barak Bachar.
“However, it is still not time to declare that we are running for the championship.
We have a very strong team and I believe we can go all the way.”
Beitar Jerusalem strung together two straight wins for the first time this season on Saturday after thrashing the sorry Hapoel Acre 4-0 at Teddy Stadium.
After beating Maccabi Haifa 3-1 on the road last week, Beitar was desperate to build on the momentum with a win over rock-bottom Acre.
Beitar’s superiority was never in doubt after Tomer Swisa gave the hosts the lead in the sixth minute. Itzik Cohen’s 23rd-minute goal opened some breathing space and Omer Atzili’s stunning strike (61) followed by Shlomi Azulai’s (69) tally completed the rout.
“Recording a second straight win was very important for us,” said coach Menahem Koretzki. “We spoke about it all week and I’m happy we got off to a quick start.
“I’m confident I can fulfill my targets at Beitar. Our initial goal is to be placed in fourth or fifth position and advance to the championship playoffs.”
Ashdod SC moved up to fifth place, two points behind Beitar, on Saturday with a 3-2 win at Bnei Sakhnin. Or Inbrum (22, 74) and Tom Mond (37) scored for Ashdod, with Mohammad Ghadir (73) and Firas Mugrabi (79) finding the back of the net for the hosts.
A mere two points separate Ashdod and Hapoel Haifa in 11th place after the latter drew 1-1 with Hapoel Tel Aviv on Saturday.
Shlomi Azulay netted the opener for Tel Aviv four minutes into the second half, with Maharan Lala scoring the equalizer for the hosts 10 minutes later.
Hapoel Tel Aviv is only five points clear of the relegation zone after winning just one of its past seven matches, picking up four points from a possible 21.
Also Saturday, Hapoel Ra’anana and Maccabi Petah Tikva drew 0-0.
Hapoel Petah Tikva hosts Maccabi Haifa on Sunday.