HSCL Prem Div:
Codicote 0 London Lions 1
An outstanding team performance put the last two weeks of disappointment firmly behind London Lions as they beat third-place Codicote 1-0 at Hertford Town.
Once again Lions were without several first team players and worse still only one recognised centre-half. Manager Tony Gold called 44-year old Danny Schindler into the squad after Wingate recalled Michael Sacks from his brief loan spell.
The Hertford Town pitch was nothing short of shocking and it was clear form the outset that little or no football was going to be able to be played. Reverting to a 4-4-2 Lions lined up with Danny Berliner in goal, back four of Adam Lauffer, Guy Morris, Schindler and Gold, midfield of Danny Cole, Rob Glass, Ben Lampert and Guy Helman with Adam Stolerman and Dominique Cheniart up front, leaving Ben Lauffer, Ben Ellis and Ben Graham on the bench.
Words were few before kick-off as every player knew the importance of the game. Tactically, the Lions set up to be far more direct and with every player carrying out their instructions to the latter it was to prove a memorable day for everyone.
Defensively the Lions shape was perfect with the back four soaking up everything thrown at them, leaving the Lions midfield to get about their business showing tremendous work ethic and tenacity. The front two of Stolerman and Cheniart worked tirelessly setting the standard which all were to follow.
Chances were few and far between in the first half with Stolerman having a decent half chance but he saw his little chip over the keeper land on the roof of the net.
Codicote threatened with a lively front two but Morris and Schindler, belying his 44 years, won virtually every header and tackle. Berliner in the Lions goal also showed tremendous handling and bravery pulling two decent dangerous crosses out of the air.
With the scores level at half-time Lions had to bide their time and wait for that moment to pounce staying disciplined and concentrated. Showing a real maturity not seen in a while the players stuck to the game plan knowing that it was only going to take one opportunity to open the scoring and that moment came on 80 minutes.
With Gold marauding down the left hand side he slipped a perfect ball into Helman’s feet who in turn released Cheniart. With his tricky feet and turn of pace Cheniart drove into the box driving the ball across the face of the box, as it was half cleared it fell invitingly to the pouncing Lampert who struck the ball perfectly past the Codicote keeper into the goal.
The referee, who had had an excellent game, signalled 10 minutes to go with the Lions clear not to take any unnecessary risks and see the game out which they did superbly.
After the game manager Tony Gold said: "The players knew the significance of this game and it was down to Steve [Grenfell] and myself to make sure they were prepared both tactically and mentally.
"The squad have come a very long way in terms of preparation, game understanding and mental focus this season and today, each and every one of them showed that, with discipline in difficult circumstances, anything is possible.
"Obviously I was concerned about today simply because of the quality we had unavailable and the state of the pitch but I have to give credit to all the players with a special mention to Danny Schindler whose performance today for a guy over 40 was simply outstanding.
"Now with five games to go, it is imperative we build on this performance and finish the season strongly."
Lions: Danny Berliner, Adam Lauffer, Guy Morris, Danny Schindler, Tony Gold, Danny Cole, Rob Glass, Ben Lampert, Guy Helman, Adam Stolerman, Dominique Cheniart. Subs: Ben Lauffer, Ben Ellis, Ben Graham