by Andrew Sherwood

London Lions produced a stunning comeback display to win 3-2 in extra time after falling behind twice to South Midland Division 1 side Wodson Park FC.

LIONS

Herts Centenary Trophy First Round:
London Lions 3 Wodson Park 2 (AET)
Saturday, 3 October, 2015

FIXTURES & RESULTS
LEAGUE TABLE

Lions went into the game with a long list of absentees which included Kyte, Keterman, Furman, Morris, Soutar, Craig, Rinsler, Stockman but still managed to select a strong 14.

The returning Lions star James Gershfield made his first appearance of the season and Andy Glynne was welcomed back after missing the last two weeks. The opening 10 minutes were pretty even but it was Wodson Park who created the first chance when Lions goalkeeper Josh Tray was forced into an early save after tipping the ball around the post. Lions were looking dangerous down the left flank with Ben Ellis causing all sorts of problems for the Wodson right back, but against the run of play Wodson were awarded a penalty after Zac Rose failed to clear a scramble in the box which resulted in Jon Ellis bringing down the Wodson player. The full-back stepped up and sent Tray the wrong way. Lions stepped up a gear and were in total control for the next 30 minutes , Josh Kennet, Charlie Kasler and James Gershfield each had good chances to level things up but were denied by the Wodson Park keeper,

The second half got underway with Pistol replacing the injured Rose and whatever Lions manager Andy Landesberg said at half-time worked, this was an even hungrier animal, Lions went for the throat, repeated chances, dominating possession and forcing Wodson Park into errors, chance after chance went by and finally Lions levelled things up, the lively Josh Kennet picked the ball up in an inside right position and drove at the Wodson back four, he beat three players and with the outside of his boot squeezed the ball under the diving goalkeeper. Game on and Lions didn’t let up, the outstanding defensive midfielder Hatchwell was bossing the park, which allowed the more attacking threats to create, many more clear-cut chances went begging.

With 25 remaining, Lions were dealt a huge blow when possession was given away high in the Wodson half and their counter-attack threat punished Lions, the forward latched onto a ball and cooly slotted past Tray,1-2 all the hard work was undone. But Lions who had been the better side on the day were not going to give up so easily, Lipman replaced Glynne with 75 minutes on the clock and had an immediate effect on the game, he won the ball in the middle of the park and released Kennet who once again drove into the box, where James Gershfield was able to receive the ball. He turned his defender and smashed a shot into the bottom corner right on full-time. Wodson Park were now mentality and physically finished, the referee blew for full-time. Another half hour awaited.

Lions knew that one final push would do and five minutes into the first period, Gershfield was taken down 30 yards central outside the box, Charlie Kasler spotted the ball down , took a side run up and what can only be described as Beckham vs Greece, he somehow managed to get the ball up and over the wall for it to sail into the top left hand corner of the net… pandemonium!!!

With 10 minutes remaining of the first half of extra-time, Perlmutter replaced Ben Ellis and almost immediately put Lions 4-2 up with a cracking strike from distance. The final 15 minutes of the match was underway and as expected Wodson Park went with five up top, launching balls from all angles into the box but the defensive duo of Landesberg and Jon Ellis stood firm. Lions were once again dangerous on the break and Kennet should have wrapped the game up but narrowly missed. In the dying moments Wodson won a free-kick near the touchline and lofted the ball towards the Lions goal, the impressive Tray managed to claw it out the sky at about the same time four Wodson players smashed into him, bravery at its best. Deep into injury time, Tray made his best and most important save of the afternoon, another long ball was pumped high into the box, it was flicked down into the path of the centre-half who had joined in the attack, he smashed it goalwards but Tray managed to dive to his right and tip the ball around the post. The ref blew the final whistle and Lions were into the next round of the cup.

Lions boss Andy Landesberg said: “This was our best performance of the season so far, the boys took on board instructions that were given and executed them as planned. It’s difficult to highlight any individual as this was a squad effort from 1-14 but Harry Hatchwell and Josh Tray were incredible and James Gershfield scoring on his return is a massive boost.

“Last season Wodson Park scored 10 goals against us in both games and currently sit fourth in the division above us, so this is a huge result for the club and for Herts County Football, in fact I was slightly disappointed that we never won the game in 90 minutes with the amount of chances we created.”

Lions forward James Gershfield said: “To score on my return was massive especially when we were deep into injury but most importantly was the team performance over 120 minutes, everyone put a real shift in today and we deserve to be in the next round.”

Lions next move on to another cup games against The 61 FC (Luton) who also play in the South Midland League.