SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE RESERVE DIVISION ONE
HODDESDON TOWN 4 LONDON LIONS RES. 0
London Lions Reserves saw their lead at the top of the SSMLR Division One cut to two points following a second half capitulation at Hoddesdon Town.
As poor a 45 minutes as Lions have put in in recent memory consigned them to a thumping defeat at Hoddesdon on Saturday, a result that really concertinas things up at the top of the table.
The final scoreline, though, was far from predictable after the initial 25 minutes, a period in which Lions more than matched their hosts and which saw them barely were inches away from deservedly leading three times before Hoddesdon had troubled the returning Ziggy Lichman in the Lions goal.
Fine interplay between Matt Stock and Guy Helman saw the latter cut inside and curl a delightful shot that came back off the inside of the post and into the keeper's grateful arms.
Hoddesdon's keeper then rescued his side with a brilliant finger-tip save after this time Stock had cut in and looked to have found the bottom corner. And from the resultant corner kick the ball was nodded down by Gottleib but Daran Bern, six yards out, just couldn't get any purchase on the loose ball when any firm contact would surely have seen him score.
The hosts worked hard thereafter to deny Lions, and with some lenient refereeing seeing no real action taken when Stock was taken out as he raced clear or when Helman was crudely scythed down, were able to impose them selves on the game.
They spurned a couple of decent opening of their own and Lichman made a couple of notable saves to keep things on level terms, but then, 10 minutes form the break, came what was surely the game's turning point. A low ball into the box saw Hyman clear for the safety of a throw in, but in the process certainly made some contact with the forward. There was a muted appeal for a spot-kick which the referee upheld to Frank Hyman's dismay. Given what had gone relatively unpunished beforehand it seemed harsh in the extreme. The kick was duly despatched and Hoddesdon led by this goal at the interval.
If they were unlucky though to be trailing at half time, there is no doubt that they deserved all they got in the second half. To be fair they never gave themselves a chance after conceding a comical second barely a minute after the restart. Lions failed to stop a cross, missed a simple chance to head it clear, didn't pounce on the loose ball and then allowed a returning half hit ball to bobble across goal where it bounced off Revivo and trickled over the line.
Lions made changes to try and shift the momentum but nothing materialised, and in truth, without Lichman would have added more goals. They conceded a third when Lampert was robbed of the ball leaving a clean run on goal that was duly despatched before some abject defending from a corner allowed a simple far post tap in for Hoddesdon's fourth.
With eight games left, Lions really need to dust themselves down. The side know they need to start taking the chances they are creating and, as a team, need to get back to defending in the miserly manner that so typified their start to the season.
There is no let up with the toughest of all trips, at Oxhey Jets, next on the agenda on Wednesday night, a side who gave Lions a real lesson earlier in the season. Win every game in hand and the top sevensides would be within fivepoints of each other, so all to play for as teams will get results off each other. It'll make for a thoroughly entertaining last five weeks of the season.
Lions Reserves: Zigg Lichman, Shai Revivo (sub: Ben Lampert), Jake Gottlieb (sub: David Cohen), Frank Hyman, Laurence Judah (sub: Nick Goodman), Adam Hakimi, Guy Helman, George Fierstone, Daran Bern, Matt Stock, TJ Keterman