SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE DIVISION 1
WODSON PARK 1 LONDON LIONS 8
London Lions gave their South Midlands League Division One title hopes a major boost with an outstanding performance away from home to pick up their 18th league win of the season.
A fantastic four-goal salvo from top-scorer Adam Bolle and a hat-trick from Sam Sloma set them up for their biggest win of the season - an 8-1 demolition of Wodson Park.
Ben Ellis wrapped up a great night for the Lions, although they passed up an opportunity to score a ninth when player-coach Darren Yarlett had his penalty saved.
Lions manager Tony Gold asked his players for a response following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Sun Postal and he got it with interest. The message was clear from the off as they beat Wodson Park with a hint of pizzazz and the players would "start building their confidence" and with it, a renewed conviction. To have thrashed Wodson Park out of sight presumably confirms the pursuit of the league title is well and truly revived.
This was a thrashing to send shockwaves up and down the Spartan South Midlands division. Wodson Park may be wide-eyed and vulnerable, but they have been unbeaten in their last three games including a great 1-0 win over Southall on the weekend and still ended shredded, Lions having mustered a performance brimming with all the panache that typified the kind of performances they were putting in before the weather and a host of postponed games disrupted their rhythem.
Gold's team even missed a penalty when the score was 8-1, the over-worked Wodson keeper somehow denying sub Yarlett with a terrific save, but the home keeper will have taken little pleasure in that mini-triumph. After all, this was Wodson's heaviest defeat of the season.
Such ruthlessness has been lacking in recent games, but when Lions click they really click. Gold had the luxury of hauling a trio of key players from the fray relatively early with one eye on the cluttered programme to come. Their replacements merely dazzled in their stead, with three goals plundered and the spot-kick missed in the last 25 minutes.
Cockfosters remain on top of the league on goal difference but Lions have a game in hand and a timely injection of form. "You could see the players had confidence, that they believed," Gold said. "They had good movement from the start, created plenty of chances, missed other chances, but the mentality was right: even after six goals they were still pushing forward for more.
"You can see the team are finding that rhythm again after a very disruptive December and January, and I'm sure the title race will be close. We can still improve and I say that after winning by seven … but now we have to sustain this run."
Lions benefitted from Wodson's fragility, their defence by-passed in the opening exchanges and the home side either unable or reluctant to switch their tactical approach even as the game was veering away by the break.
This was a mismatch from the moment Andy Glynne's fine through ball pass to Sloma was thumped home with precision setting the tone for the remainder of the night.
Sloma now boasts 20 goals for 26 matches, with this arguably his finest form since joining the club. He still needs to produce such brilliance for this team on a major occasion, but for now his return can not be questioned.
Against Southall the previous weekend Wodson Park had not been punished for a nervy start and, once settled, had imposed themselves impressively to maintain that recent flurry of form. Yet, once punctured early here, recovery never felt likely. They never coped with Lions's slippery pace down the flanks, where Dean Nyman and Ellis interchanged with such relish.
Lions were irrepressible. Bolle, relishing his lone front role, doubled the visitors' lead just after the half-hour mark. Wodson were still teetering moments later when Ellis spat a shot goalwards from a free-kick making it three on the stroke of half-time.
Sloma then scored the goal of the night with a spectacular finish on the angle to make it four.
Wodson withered away. Nyman, set up by Sloma's sublime hat-trick to make it 5-0 before he was replaced by Adam Hakimi. Then in the final 25 minutes it was the Adam Bolle show; five soon became six and seven as the forward notched his own hat-trick. Wodson then scored a consolation from a corner to make it 7-1 before Bolle added his fourth and Lions eighth.
In the dying minutes late sub Yarlett even had the luxury of missing a penalty.
Wodson had been praying for the end for some time. Lions must hope this is merely the beginning of their own charge back towards the form they showed before Christmas.
Gold said: "I asked the players for a response and I got one, I was very impressed with the way we conducted ourselves tonight
"To win any game is always special, but the mentality of the players tonight was good, even after we scored our sixth goal, we kept pushing forward for more."
Lions: Mario Cenolli, Danny Berg, Guy Morris, Adam Myeroff, Andy Glynne, Daniel Stanton, Sam Sloma (sub: Adam Hakimi), Dean Nyman (sub: Daniel Green), Ben Ellis (sub: Darren Yarlett), Adam Bolle
Goals: Adam Bolle (4), Sam Sloma (3), Ben Ellis