On a crisp and sunny January afternoon, London Lions welcomed league leaders Sandridge Rovers for their first game of 2016.
Herts Senior County League Premier Division:
London Lions 2 Sandridge Rovers 1
Saturday, 16 Janaury, 2016
Lions started brightly with debutant Larry Cohen starting alongside Nick Landesberg at the heart of the Lions defence.
Max Kyte, Jake Furman ,Josh Kennet and Austin Lipman all went close early in the first half as Lions really should have put the game to bed before half-time. Yet it was a Will Beresford goal-bound block from Sandridge striker Harry Booth, after keeper Dan Lee had been beaten, that kept Lions on level terms just before the break.
The second half started brightly with Lions continuing to play the better football and, with Andy Glynne pulling the strings deep in the middle of the park and Charlie Kasler finding the space and picking his passes, the chances kept on coming.
Lions’ young right-back Zac Rose, after a great ball from Kennet, found himself with just the keeper to beat but this and a series of great saves from Sandridge’s Keating kept the visitors goal intact yet again.
But 10 minutes after the break, Lions eventually broke the stalemate with a great strike from Austin Lipman, a slight deflection helping finally beat the outstanding Keating. Usually this would mean that Lions stepped up a gear but Sandridge showed why they are table toppers and showed great resilience and stopped Lions playing their normal quick passing play. Sandridge went close and only a great block from Larry Cohen and Sandridge strikers not hitting the target prevented the visitors from equalising.
With 20 minutes to go Lions picked up the pace once more and Kyte was foiled once again by a great save from Keating. But the Lions faithful were celebrating in the 74th minute through a Kennet strike, only for the referee to overrule the linesman and give a controversial offside decision.
Harry Hatchwell replaced the cramping Glynne and within a minute Kasler made it 2-0 with a neat finish in the six-yard box after great play by Kyte.
Kasler and Cohen were replaced by Josh Pistol and Adam Burchill, but a far post header from Sandridge striker Reece May gave the visitors hope.
The Lions team however proved to be up to the task and kept Sandridge quiet and more importantly kept possession and played out the remainder of the game in a disciplined fashion.
The management team of Landesberg, Grenfell and Yarlett were delighted with the result and the overall performance but would have preferred to have had converted some of the early chances that would have made the game less tense.
We now look forward to hosting league title favourites Standon and Puckeridge this Wednesday (Jan 20th) at 7.30pm for another massive game that may determine if Lions are going to be in the mix for the title come the end of the season. But with 20 league games to go I’m sure there will be lots of twists and turns before the final game.
Lions boss Andy Landesberg said: “This was an great performance throughout, some of the lads haven’t played for 5 weeks but the energy levels were excellent. My only criticism is that we only managed 2 goals, the first half was so one sided we should have scored four or five. I thought Max Kyte probably had his best game of the season, his work-rate and all-round team play was fantastic. We now have our first midweek fixture on Wednesday evening against a tough Standon & Puckeridge side.”