by Andrew Sherwood

London Lions Vets retain a hold on their AFA trophy but only just as they beat Aloysians in a penalty shoot-out, but there was an exit in the Herts Senior Trophy for the Herts Senior team…

LIONSAFA Vets Trophy:
Old Aloysians 2 London Lions 2 AET – Lions won 4-3 on penalties
Saturday, 7 December, 2015

In a game totally dominated by the appalling weather, Lions at least showed enough heart and courage to dig out the win over an Old Aloysians side who for periods coped better with conditions than the holders.

This tie, played between last year’s finalists, promised lots on paper but in truth delivered little by way of spectacle. An exposed, slopping and bobbly pitch offered zero protection to the fierce winds as both teams struggled from the off to play any football. Lions had the better of the chances, Tony Gold twice getting on to the end of crosses to the far post but unable to hit the target, while Richard Baum was clearly tripped in the area, the referee citing being un-sighted for not giving the spot kick. However, having been totally untroubled at the back to the half hour mark, Lions got caught with men upfield following a corner, but it was definitely a cross that floated on the wind over the head of Lee that gave Aloysians a lead they took into the break.

Encouraged to at least try and play their football by the management at the break, it’s to Lions’ credit that for 20 minutes they tried to do just that. Having created a couple of half chances, they deservedly equalised on the hour. Baum fed Gold who crossed on the run to the far post where Adam Kaye slid in to knock the ball back into the path of Paul Lenchner who smashed home from close range. Gold and Lenchner combined moments later, this time the striker’s towering header flew inches over. Lions were asking the questions, and thought they’d won it late on when Bradley Lazarus swung one on the wind that went oh so close before striking the bar direct from a corner.

In the ever increasing gloom extra time was needed. Bradley Lee saved expertly with his legs as Aloysians briefly threatened, but was powerless when the forward went over Lenchner’s outstretched leg, dusting himself down to rifle home from the spot.

With 15 minutes to save themselves Lions huffed and puffed, but the wind was making it almost impossible to play any football. With the clock in its final seconds a long ball from Dan Piler was helped on by Andrew Myers. Lenchner scrapped for the loose ball, managing to dig out a pass to Gold who whipped a cross into the danger area that deceived the keeper, nestling into the top stanchion literally on the final whistle to Lions’ delight.

Penalties were needed. Lazarus and Baum converted, but when Piler missed the target with Lions’ third kick, they feared the worst. Aloysians converted their first three but their fourth was blazed over, so when both Max Radford and Myers found the net, Aloysians had to score to take things on, but when their centre-half, the best player on the park on the day, fired his kick high and wide it was Lions who had battled through.

Hardly a ‘game’ of football but a tie that had to be negotiated. A word of praise for the 2 full backs who get little mention in reports but who were both excellent on the day. Craig Henry put in a performance of real strength while Danny Gordon, on after 15 minutes, really stood up excellently and played a huge part in an ultimately satisfying result.

Herts Senior Trophy Quarter-Final:
Baldock Town 2 London Lions 1
Saturday, 7 December, 2015

FIXTURES & RESULTS
LEAGUE TABLE

London Lions were knocked out at the quarter final stage of the Herts Centenary Trophy on Saturday afternoon in a game that should have been over in the first 45 minutes.

Played in blustery conditions and on a difficult surface, it was the away side who dominated from the off with a host of glorious chances created by the attacking front line of Kasler, Kennet and Lipman, chance after chance went begging with the Baldock keeper being kept the busier of the two, but it was the home team who took the lead when the referee, who was poor all afternoon, gave a soft free-kick on the edge of the box, Luke Gregson stepped up and bent it around the wall into the bottom corner.

The second half kicked off and it was Lions who had the strong wind behind them with Baldock being camped in their half and it was more of the same with Lions creating the better chances. With 25 minutes remaining Max Kyte was brought on and his first touch saw his glancing header strike the cross bar, the ball then bounced out only for Baldock to break down the field , the ball was played out to the left and a fantastic cross was delivered into the Lions box, Guy Morris’s attempted clearance ended up in the back of his own net 2-0. Lions managed to pull one back with 8 minutes left through Max Kyte and in the last minute Kennets curling shot was headed off the line. FT 2-1

Manager Andy Landesberg said: “I feel like I’m repeating myself in terms of the chances we create every game. I could go on but i have to give credit to the players, what an effort and performance they gave, this game should have been over in the first half but it wasn’t meant to be but the lads can be proud. We now focus our attention to Wingate next Saturday.”