Drama doesn’t deter Kiryat Shmona in win

Despite tensions over Ben-Shimon’s contract, K8 tops Mac PT to extend lead to 12.

Mirko Oremus 390 (photo credit: Adi Avishai)
Mirko Oremus 390
(photo credit: Adi Avishai)
It seems that nothing is going to derail Ironi Kiryat Shmona’s surge to a historic Premier League championship after the northerners blocked out the rising tensions between the coach and owner to reestablish a 12-point gap at the top of the standings on Saturday.
Coach Ran Ben-Shimon’s refusal to sign the contract extension offered to him by owner Izzy Sheratzky made all the headlines last week, but Kiryat Shmona players did their talking on the field on Saturday, outplaying Maccabi Petah Tikva for a 2-0 road victory.
David Solari netted the opener with a delightful shot from the edge of the area following an elegant team move in the 15th minute, with Shimon Abu Hazeira securing the three points in the 61st minute, coolly slotting in his 11th league goal of the season after some superb build-up play by Adrian Rochet.
“This was one of our better matches of the season as far as commitment and concentration go,” said Ben-Shimon, whose team extended its Premier League unbeaten streak to 24 matches.
“I don’t want to talk about next season. We are achieving such wonderful things this season that it is wrong at this moment to talk about where I’ll be next year.”
Kiryat Shmona kept its 17th clean sheet of the season on its way to its 12th win in its past 15 matches and extended its lead after Hapoel Tel Aviv only managed a 0-0 draw against Bnei Sakhnin at Bloomfield Stadium.
Hapoel lost Walid Badier to a red card in the 31st minute after a contentious decision by referee Asaf Keinan and never really threatened after that, allowing Kiryat Shmona to restore a 12-point margin it surely isn’t going to squander with 11 matches to play.
“It was important for us to come and play a good match after all that happened last week,” Kiryat Shmona striker Barak Badash said. “We wanted to prove that it had no effect on us. It will be a travesty if we don’t win the title.
“This is an opportunity which Kiryat Shmona may never have again.”
Hapoel Beersheba’s hopes of survival suffered a massive blow on Saturday following a 2-1 home defeat to rock-bottom Hapoel Petah Tikva.
Beersheba seemed set to remain out of the relegation zone after William Suarez translated its dominance into a 1-0 lead in the 54th minute.
However, Siraj Naser was shown a second yellow card and sent off six minutes later and Yaniv Luzon equalized in the 69th minute before Guy Tzarfati clinched the victory for Petah Tikva with a dramatic winner three minutes into stoppage time.
Hapoel Haifa climbed out of the relegation zone at the expense of Beersheba with a 3-2 home win against fellowstruggler Hapoel Rishon Lezion.
Stephan Diak gave Rishon the lead in the 29th minute, but gifted Haifa a penalty just a minute later, which was duly converted by Yuval Avidor.
Gal Arel (41) completed the comeback and Gal Mayo’s (50) equalizer was rendered meaningless after Avidor netted the winner in the 64th.
Also Saturday, Hen Ezra’s 88th-minute strike gave Maccabi Netanya a 1-0 win over Ashdod SC, while Hapoel Acre beat Hapoel Ramat Hasharon 2-0 courtesy of goals from Stefan Scepovic (52) and Nicolas Falczuk (62).
Maccabi Haifa visits Bnei Yehuda on Sunday, with Betar Jerusalem to host Maccabi Tel Aviv at Teddy Stadium on Monday.