London Lions roar to opening day win

London Lions roar to opening day win

Ben Ellis was on target for the Lions

A hat-trick from Josh Kennet helped London Lions edge a nine-goal epic as they began their league campaign with a dramatic win.

Spartan South Midlands League Division One
London Lions 5 Buckingham Athletic 4
Saturday, 9 August, 2014

Kennet’s treble, along with an excellent team goal from Ben Ellis and a Max Kyte penalty saw the men from Lions come from 1-0 down to record an exciting victory.

Andy Landesberg and Tony Gold handed debuts to Alex Lee, Rafi Soccairello and on loan signing Joe Sharpe, while Ben Ellis, Mario Cenolli and Kennet returned to the starting XI after spending 2013/14 campaigns elsewhere.

After an even start, the visitors went ahead on 14 minutes through Hawkins. Lions lost possession in their half and a good delivery from wide was headed home leaving Cenolli no chance in the Lions goal.

The Lions responded almost instantaneously with arguably the goal of the game. A move which started from the Lions defense, was passed eight times involving five players and ended with Kennet finding the marauding Ellis who smashed home the equaliser from eight yards.

Then literally two minutes later more neat interchange between Ellis and Kyte then set-up Kennet, who drilled his shot past the visiting keeper to put Lions 2-1 up.

On 35 minutes, completely against the run of play, Buckingham were awarded a penalty as the referee adjudged Lee, who was shown a yellow card, to have handled the ball in the Lions box. Cenolli stood tall and strong and his imposing presence saw the Buckingham spot taker blast his penalty over the bar. But just before the break the visitors did level from a routine corner. Poor positioning and an unnecessary scramble in the Lions six-yard box, saw Buckingham react first and Martin bundled the ball home.

Both sides began the second half like they ended the first – on the frontfoot – and the scoring continued as Lions went 3-2 up, Kennet bagging his second goal of the game with a beautifully taken shot from just outside the box.

The pendulum swung again and Buckingham leveled for the second time, O’Dell managed to wrestle his way through the Lions midfield and see his shot deflect off Landesberg, wrong footed Cenolli, with the ball nestling into the empty goal.

Lions then injected more urgency and further quality and intricate passing between Kyte and Charlie Rubin presented Ellis with a golden opportunity just past the hour mark, but his shot was blocked by the covering defenders hand and the referee awarded his second penalty of the afternoon. Up stepped Kyte, who calmly and sublimely slotted his spot kick away to make it 4-3. It got even better for Landesberg and Gold’s men 10 minutes later when Kennet completed his hat-trick, slotting home Rubin’s pinpoint pass with 13 minutes remaining.

Buckingham however were not finished there. A stunning shot from Woodfine from all of 25 yards flew into the top right-hand corner of the goal to complete an extraordinary 15 minutes. Thankfully a fifth goal from the visitors didn’t materialise with Lions holding strong to make it a very pleasing afternoon in front of the Lions faithful.

Landesberg said: “There were components today about our defending that weren’t pleasing, but the lads held their hands up and in the end have shown wonderful character to win the game. We were patient in our play. The most pleasing thing was how quick we played, how quick we played forward. We are a team with energy and legs. We’ll enjoy this win but now focus on Risborough Rangers”.

Gold added: “We kept doing the right things and hopefully we can keep playing our way. Although the goals we conceded were poor from a defensive point of view, I felt collectively the team deserved to be praised because of the fighting spirit shown. There’s a tremendous togetherness about the Squad and Club right now and we are all just taking each game as it comes enjoying the moment.”

The Lions next travel to Risborough Rovers on Tuesday evening.

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