A brace from skipper Josh Kennet helped Lions win a third Herts Senior Centenary Trophy, but they were made to work hard by a Wodson Park side, who will consider themselves unlucky on the night.
Herts Senior Centenary Trophy Final:
London Lions 3 Wodson Park 0
Wednesday, 22 March, 2017
Shorn of 46-goal James Gershfield – who will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury – Lions were greeted with a tricky surface at Cheshunt and maybe some early nerves as it was South Midlands League Wodson Park who made the better start.
Wodson were immediately dispossessing Lions, who didn’t seem to settle into the game very quickly, and forced them into errors. Only Jake Furman in the Lions midfield seemed to be winning his battles.
Wodson went close early on, shooting wide of the post and then somehow missed the chance to take the lead on 20 minutes when Lions goalkeeper Jake Lewis was deceived by a long ball and the Wodson striker rounded him, only to fire wide when he looked certain to open the score.
Moments later Wodson then struck the post with Lewis well beaten, but football is all about taking your chances and it was Lions who found the net with their first real effort of note just a minute later.
Some neat dribbling from Austin Lipman saw the former Gunner cut across the box and drill a superb low effort into the corner to give Lions a precious lead on 21 minutes.
Wodson almost struck back immediately and continued to dictate the game, although Lipman this time freed Burchell who fired narrowly over as Lions began to grow in confidence.
Skipper Kennet then struck a killer blow on 38 minutes, cutting in from the right and delivering a cross-shot that squirmed under the goalkeeper to give Lions an unlikely 2-0 lead.
Wodson would have been scratching their head at how they were two-down at the break and probably would have felt the game was still theirs for the taking, but the second half saw Lions stronger, more confident and ready to bring home the cup.
Striker Max Kyte, who was putting in a tremendous shift replacing Gershfield, almost made it three on 52 minutes, but his header was scrambled clear.
There were few chances at either end as Lions shored up what had been a fairly leaky defensive line earlier in the game. Hatchwell shielding Landesberg and Goldberg well down the middle, with Rubin and Lipman also getting hold of the wide areas.
The boys in all white then sealed the trophy when the hard working Kyte squared for Kennet to prod home on 71 minutes.
To be fair to Wodson, they never stopped looking for a way back, and within the last ten minutes were denied by the woodwork once more, a tremendous last-ditch tackle from sub Andy Glynne; had a goal disallowed and also brought a super save from Jake Lewis – but it just wasn’t to be their night.
So, not the most fluent or comfortable 3-0 win you’ll ever see, but the result means Lions win their first trophy of a possible three this season.
Manager Andy Landesberg said: “We didn’t start at all well, but after the break I thought we showed what we can do a little more and deserved it in the end.
“Wodson Park were very fit, strong but we took our chances and showed we can match teams when it’s a battle on a tricky surface. I am pleased for the boys, but we move on to the next challenge on Saturday at Hatfield.”