London Lions’ Garston side completed the first step of a potential league and cup treble on Sunday after they won the Middlesex County Cup.
Middlesex County Cup Final:
London Lions 3 Bushey Sports 1
Sunday, 3 April, 2016
The Lions buried the ghosts of the previous two seasons and, in so doing, took the trophy to Rowley Lane for the first time as they ran out 3-1 winners.
With skipper and top scorer Brad Lazarus away, Andrew Myers took the armband and led the side from the heart of the defence. Alongside Rob Glass the two were simply outstanding from the off, dominating their opponents and, with the power and energy of John Rayner and Adam Myeroff, the unit gave Bushey no change and kept Bradley Lee in the Lions goal well protected throughout.
Despite having the wind and slope against them in the first half, it was the Lions who asked the early questions. Danny Daggers and Alex Levack were linking well and with Craig Pearl finding pockets of space Lions started to threaten. But it was the work rate and energy of the front three that really sparked the side into life. Saul Conway’s un-relenting willingness to run in behind and the constant up and down of Hadley Silver and Tony Gold put the star men of Bushey under presure, forced mistakes and created openings.
Gold latched onto a Myeroff pass, his low shot to the far corner was well held by Bushey’s 6’7″ keeper, the first of a series of fine stops he was to make all afternoon. A mazy Silver dribble almost brought reward before he was just unable to keep a far post header down from Gold’s deep cross.
Bushey though, with almost their entire squad having played at non-league level and above, are always going to be a threat, and when ex-Ipswich Town, West Ham and Barnet star Darren Currie is over the ball you have to be on your guard. One fine ball sent their striker through, Myeroff though exacting a brilliant goal saving block, but they had to thank the woodwork when Currie’s free-kick had Lee beaten.
Yet Lions were still the team who seemed the more likely and got their just rewards when again Gold managed to find space to whip in a cross, the ball deflected into his own net by another ex-pro Lee Harvey to give Lions the lead.
Bushey reacted well; to counter, Lions introduced Paul Lenchner, Adam Kaye and Max Radford to maintain the energy levels and to stop Bushey from having the time to play. The latter though, released after more excellent interplay from Daggers and Levack, did superbly to fashion a cross from the right that Conway flicked on, Pearl though from point-blank denied by a wonder save. The game was tight, but shortly before the break Gold found Lenchner who’s run was timed to beat the offside trap. The Lions front man took a touch, looked up, and curled an exquisite finish beyond the diving goalkeeper to give the side the cushion they so desired as they went in for their half time cuppa.
Lions continued to roll their squad to keep things fresh, and in so doing Bushey were kept at arms length while Glass and Myers continued to excel at the back knowing that the next goal would be vital. Lions had their chances; Pearl’s fine low finish denied by the linesman’s flag, Conway twice denied by the excellent Bushey stopper. However, with 15 minutes remaining, the game was finally settled as from Silver’s through ball Conway burst clear, this time rounding the keeper before slotting home.
To keep the energy levels high Lions brought on Dan Reuben and Craig Henry as Bushey threw caution to the wind, Glass deflecting a cross/shot onto his own crossbar and Lee forced into a good block at his near post. They did however grab one back in the 85th minute that could have led to a nervy ending, but it proved to be nothing more than a consolation as Lions saw out the remainder without alarm, the final whistle and subsequant trophy presentation greeted with great joy and satisfaction from a group who had given their all to finally come out winners over a true champion team.
Reflecting back on their win, manager Dan Jacobs said: “Dan and I really couldn’t be more thrilled. As a squad we’re only six years competing at this level – the hard work of Paul Wise to really try and drive us on from the team Ben Dale started is something we’ve both tried to emulate these last three seasons. To see how far this team has come is something that makes us very proud; to now be beating teams that used to hammer us says we must be doing something right. On and off the pitch we’ve a group of 20 guys that buy into what we are trying to do and to the football we want to play – that’s the County Cup in the bag but we’re now focused on what we need to do to bring the league and league cup titles to Rowley Lane and make it a treble winning season”.
Looking at the game itself, player-manager Dan Reuben was quick to heap praise on the players. he said: “The group really have taken on board what’s been asked on them and today. To a man, all 16 worked themselves into the ground to beat a side that had three or for ex-professional players in their ranks. Whilst a team effort, Rob Glass and Andrew Myers were outstanding at the back, Tony Gold had his best game of the season while the work rate and running of Paul Lenchner and Saul Conway saw them rewarded with the goals they deserved. Bushey have knocked us out in the latter stages of this competition in each of the last two seasons, so to beat them really does mean a lot”.
The team now need three league wins to secure the title, before playing in the League Invitational Cup Final on 15 May.