Local Soccer: Hap TA struggles with Mac Herzilya

Herzliya produces gallant effort and Pati Yablanka scores late in the second half to force a 2-2 draw.

hapoel tel aviv 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
hapoel tel aviv 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv failed again to win a seemingly easy Premier League match. An adamant Maccabi Herzliya, entangled in a difficult relegation battle, produced a gallant effort and scored late in the second half to force a 2-2 draw last night in Herzliya. In a makeup match, the reds had a chance to climb back into the championship race and move within two points of frontrunner Betar Jerusalem, but were unable to prevail - despite a strong second half from substitute Salim Toema. Hapoel Tel Aviv, which has reached the UEFA Cup round of 32, is now fifth in the Premier League standings with 21 points, leading sixth-place Maccabi Haifa, a fellow UEFA Cup representative, on goaldifference. "We played badly in the first half," Hapoel Tel Aviv coach Yitzhak Schum said after Thursday's draw. "A good second half was not enough today. Many of our players were lacking match fitness and that's why I had to make some adjustments during the game. I'm sure our league form will improve soon, as we are planning to bring in new players." Schum fielded an offensive lineup which included strikers Elyaniv Barda and Ibazito Ogabuna, with the support of wingers Baruch Dego and Gil Vermouth. Herzliya employed an effective man-marking gameplan, but not without giving up on its attacking aspirations. The hosts drew first blood in the 30th minute. Shai Abutbul was spotted handling the ball while trying to clear a Herzliya corner, which resulted in a penalty. Omer Buksenboim stepped up and sent the ball into the back of the net. Schum introduced Toema in the 60th minute and results were almost immediate. Vermouth scored off a Toema cross in the 66th, and the latter netted a long-range strike to give the reds a temporary lead in the 71st minute. Herzliya kept up the offensive pressure and managed to find the equalizer just two minutes later, as Pati Yablanka slipped past the Tel Aviv rearguard and provided a close-range finish. The hosts also had a chance to score a winner in stoppage time, but Papi Kimoto's shot whistled past Shavit Elimelech's post. Now that all of the teams have played 13 matches, the Premier League takes a holiday break this weekend.