Local soccer: Hapoel TA continues dreadful form

Loses 0-1 to Maccabi Netanya; also: Bnei Sakhnin - Mac Haifa 1-1; Ashdod SC - Mac TA 0-0; Ironi Kiryat Shmona - Mac Herzliya 3-1; Hap Kfar Saba - Mac Petah Tikva 0-0.

Hapoel TA soccer 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hapoel TA soccer 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Hapoel Tel Aviv slumped to its seventh defeat in eight matches on Saturday, losing 1-0 to Maccabi Netanya at Bloomfield Stadium. Tel Aviv remains rooted at the bottom of the Premier League standings and faces definite relegation if it doesn't improve its play soon. New Hapoel coach Eli Gutman, who was facing Netanya for the first time since he was sacked by the club in January, has a mammoth task ahead of him and admitted on Saturday that avoiding relegation is his team's one and only goal. "I was hoping for a better premiere," Gutman said after the match. "We were better than Netanya during most of the game, but we barely reached any scoring opportunities. We must end this losing streak. I will be delighted if we finish the season one place above the relegation zone." Maccabi Haifa withstood a Bnei Sakhnin onslaught on Saturday night to leave the Doha Stadium with one point. Haifa led at the break, but was down to nine men in the 60th minute and only avoided defeat thanks to goalkeeper Nir Davidovitch. Also Saturday, Maccabi Tel Aviv picked up its first away point of the season, drawing 0-0 with Ashdod SC. A Yero Belo hatrick gave Ironi Kiryat Shmona a 3-1 victory over Maccabi Herzliya and Hapoel Kfar Saba's match against Maccabi Petah Tikva ended in a goalless stalemate. Hapoel Tel Aviv 0, Maccabi Netanya 1 Despite playing one of its better half's of the season, Hapoel still trailed at the interval. Seven minutes into the match Awudu Okocha unleashed an excellent shot from 18 meters out that gave Vincent Emyeama no chance. Two minutes later Fabio Junior had a golden opportunity to tie the score, but the disappointing Brazilian failed to beat Liran Shtrauber, shooting high above goal. The hosts continued to push forward and in the 20th minute a good team move almost ended in the equalizer. Lior Asulin had time and space, but completely miss-hit his shot from five meters out. Netanya almost doubled its lead against the run of play in the 33rd minute when Tamir Cohen's left footed shot was saved by Enyeama. Tel Aviv couldn't build on its first half display and only had one real scoring opportunity after the break. In the 55th minute Baruch Dego's deflected shot went centimeters wide of Shtrauber's post, much to the visitors' relief. Nine minutes later Netanya midfielder Almog Cohen picked up his second yellow card and was given his marching orders. Hapoel, however, couldn't take advantage of its one man advantage and fell to yet another defeat. "We played an excellent tactical match," Netanya coach Reuven Atar said. "We played with three young players and they did extremely well. We need to continue improving if we want to remain among the top teams." Bnei Sakhnin 1, Maccabi Haifa 1 Despite facing nine players for the last 30 minutes of the match, Bnei Sakhnin could only claim one point at the Doha Stadium. Haifa took the lead in the 21st minute when Yaniv Katan scored from the penalty spot after being brought down in the box. The visitors controlled the match, but were down to nine men within one second half minute. South African Peter Masilela was sent off in the 60th minute after receiving his second yellow card of the match and moments later Dekel Keinan saw red when he hit out at Leonard Krupnik. In the 80th minute the hosts finally managed to grab the equalizer. Maccabi's defense failed to clear the ball and Hamed Ganaim smashed the ball in from 10 meters out. "I'm very disappointed that we couldn't win against nine men," Sakhnin coach Elisha Levy said. "The players fought for every ball from the first whistle and it's a pity we couldn't convert our chances." Ashdod SC 0, Maccabi Tel Aviv 0 Maccabi was the slightly better side in a dreary first half, but never really came close to taking the lead. Ashdod, which had lost its previous four matches, registered its first real chance of the match six minutes into the second half when Alain Masudi's shot just missed the goal. Tel Aviv almost broke the deadlock in the 63rd minute, but goalkeeper Sammy Adjei kept the score tied with his quick instincts. "I'm not planning to quit. I'm part of this team and I will get it out of trouble," Tel Aviv coach Nir Levin said after the match. "Obviously I'm not pleased with the match. We did, however, at least manage to claim our first away point of the season." Maccabi Herzliya 1, Ironi Kiryat Shmona 3 Eight minutes into the second half the hosts took the lead after Said Makasi headed in Shalev Menashe's corner kick. Three minutes later Makasi thought he had doubled the lead, but his goal was wrongly disallowed for an offside. In the 59th minute substitute Belo scored with his first touch of the match. The Nigerian headed in the ball to tie the score and within four minutes completed his side's comeback with an accurate shot from the edge of the box. Four minutes before the final whistle Belo capped his superb performance with a great shot that completed his hatrick. Hapoel Kfar Saba 0, Maccabi Petah Tikva 0 Kfar Saba 'keeper Ohad Levita denied Petah Tikva all three points with a penalty save in the 85th minute. Omer Golan, who will be leaving Petah Tikva for Sporting Lokeren in the January transfer window, was brought down in the box, but failed to convert the penalty kick.