by Andrew Sherwood

London Lions produced a much improved performance as they played Letchworth Eagles for the second time in a week – and were victorious as they booked their place in the last four of the Anagram Records Trophy.

LIONS

Anagram Records Trophy quarter-final:
Letchworth GC Eagles 2 London Lions 5
Saturday, 20 February, 2016

FIXTURES & RESULTS
LEAGUE TABLE

Missing the spine of the team with injuries to Jake Furman, Harry Hatchwell, Charlie Kasler and skipper Josh Kennet unavailable, Lions brought back Jake Rinsler and 17-year-old Adam Burchell, who started on the left hand side.

With the pitch and weather no better than last week, Lions started brightly and both strikers James Gershfield and Max Kyte should have tested the Eagles keeper having caught the Letchworth defence sleeping. But with the wind behind them on 22 minutes, Eagles had a strong penalty appeal turned down and Lions took heart from their good fortune.

Moments later Lions attack won a corner. Burchell put in a good delivery and Kyte’s effort popped back to Nick Landesberg who scored his first of the season. Ten minutes later, a great ball from Rinsler put through Kyte who took his chance well to put Lions 2-0 up. With Josh Pistol outstanding at the centre of defence alongside Landesberg and Zac Rose and Will Beresford compact at full- back, the Lions went into the break two goals to the good.

The second half started with Letchworth the hungrier of the two teams and just five minutes in, an Eagles set-piece saw the lead halved as Thake followed up from close-range. The injured Zac Rose was then replaced by Oli Craig, who was back from injury for his first game in three months.

Another free-kick for Eagles in the 58th minute, from just outside the box produced another goal as Lions failed to clear the ball, the Eagles skipper equalising from 18 yards out with Lions goalkeeper Reuben Rabstein unsighted by his crowded area.

But with the Lions’ pride hurt, there was a great reaction from Andy Landsberg’s boys. Adam Lipman, who had fought tirelessly in the centre of the park, was cautioned for a strong tackle but it set the tone for the final half hour. They went ahead in the 68th minute when Burchell’s corner was knocked back and his driven cross was handled by the Eagles centre-half . Kyte stepped up and made no mistake from the spot with his 17th goal of the season. Lions defended excellently to a man and with ten minutes remaining, Rinsler wriggled his way from the halfway line, with his cross headed down by Kyte into the path of James Gershfield, who’s first touch was good and he struck the target leaving the goalkeeper no chance.

Rabstein still had to be alert and made a good save to ensure that Letchworth did not gain hope. Alex Rose replaced Burchell who had given his all and with three minutes left, Austin Lipman, who was a constant threat and had received some rough treatment from the Eagles defence, showed his class with an excellent run going past four tackles and finishing with a great strike from just outside the box to put the game beyond doubt and ensure that Lions are in the semi-final draw.