An inspired display from Josh Kennet led Lions a superb victory over a high-flying Cuffley side.
Herts Centenary Trophy Second Round:
London Lions 3 Cuffley 1
Saturday, 7 November, 2015
In truth, it was only the performance of the Cuffley goalkeeper who kept the scoreline respectable, as the hosts threatened to run riot in an excellent second half performance.
Despite the heavy rain and some surface water, the pitch at Rowley Lane was passed fit and played its part in a fast-flowing game. Josh Kennet was on hand to give Lions the lead that their start deserved, but Cuffley slowly got their way back into the game and a looping far post header drew them level on 20 minutes. Cuffley at this point got on top in midfield, and although Josh Tray in the Lions goal wasn’t actually forced into any saves, that was mainly thanks to some fine last-ditch defending, with Zac Rose and Jon Ellis in particular putting themselves on the line for the cause.
But when they got the ball forward Lions were a constant threat, Cuffley’s #1 serving notice of what was to come with a magnificent point-blank save to deny James Gershfield from Kennet’s cross. Lipman found space and fired goalwards, the goalkeeper down low to parry the ball to safety, before a three-on-two break saw Kasler shoot wide when perhaps there were better options available. The half ended with another Lions forray and another brave save.
Coach Grenfell wasn’t best pleased at the interval, but what he said behind closed doors worked a treat as Lions encamped themselves in the Cuffely half almost from the off, in what was the first half of competitive football played under the new lights. Kennet was in scintillating form, a quite brilliant run down the left saw him outpace the full-back, before he delivered a peach of a driven cross on the run that Gershfield was an inch away from connecting from. A curling Kennet shot was palmed away at full-stretch, before the goalkeeper then spectacularly tipped a Hatchwell flicked header over the bar, before he performed even better, turning over a rasping Charlie Kasler drive.
As the game entered its final quarter Lions could have been forgiven for thinking this might not be their day, but with Cuffley simply unable to get anything going the pressure finally told. Lipman and Kasler worked to create a yard of space and this time that was all the latter required as he curled an exquisite finish into the far corner from just inside the box. It needed something special to beat a keeper on this form and this was it. Tails now fully up Lions kept coming, and within a couple of minutes made the tie safe, Kennet bursting past two defenders and flicking the ball as cool as you like over the on-rushing keeper for 3-1.
That’s how it stayed, for Lions passage into the quarter finals, a game they will face next month, although with most ties falling foul of the weather the draw is yet to be made.