SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
LONDON LIONS 3 WELWYN GARDEN CITY 1
London Lions continued thier relentless march towards the SSML Division One title with an excellent 3-1 victory over Welwyn Garden City at Hemel Hempstead FC.
Having put Langford to the sword 7-0 on Monday night, the physical demands of three games a week is starting to take its toll on the Lions players.
Squad rotation is a must, with recovery time virtually non-existent, as Lions manager Tony Gold made five changes to his starting line-up against Welwyn.
Young Jordan Marks started in left midfield as Gold changed formation and played a conventional 4-4-2, with Paul Hakim and Adam Bolle playing as two main strikers. The other changes were Guy Helman and Jake Gottlieb coming back into the side as right and left full-backs.
The visitors started brightly and the game was played at a good tempo in the early stages. Welwyn looked dangerous on the break and the Lions back four needed to be at their best to avert any danger.
Lions moved the ball with purpose and also looked dangerous on the break, especially in wide areas as Josh Kennet teased the Welwyn full-back time after time.
Given the change in formation, Lions adapted rather better then expected and it was fitting when on 30 minutes they took the lead. Good work from Hakim saw him hold off two defenders before his square pass to top-scorer Bolle was somehow bundled home. A scrappy goal perhaps, but an important one all the same.
This was a tight game and Lions knew they had to remain focused and switched on, because one lapse in concentration would let Welwyn back in.
Ten minutes in and Lions were awarded a free-kick 20 yards from goal. Jake Gottlieb placed the ball, took one look at the target and majestically curled in a goal that David Beckham would have been proud of.
Lions were now in full control and looked to be heading for a good clean sheet, and perhaps another goal or two. On 65 minutes the referee gave Welwyn a way back into the game by awarding a penalty to the visitors having adjudged Mario Cenolli to have fouled one of their players in the box, when it was clear to everyone watching including the Welwyn players themselves that the stopper actually won the ball first. Welwyn converted the spot-kick and it was game on.
Lions introduced Ben Ellis, Andy Glynne and Dean Nyman to add some much needed freshness with the latter shooting inches over the bar following some lively play down the right.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, Lions sealed victory. Goal machine Bolle unleashed a ridiculous shot that moved about three times in the air before smashing into the back of the net. It was a strike fit to win any football match.
Once again Lions manager Tony Gold was delighted with his players effort and application. He said: "The players went into the game focused on the job in hand and they have put themselves in a fantastic position now.
"We made numerous chances tonight and clearly deserved to win. We always talk about going out to win every game and we succeeded with great movement up front while the back four were terrific."
Lions: Mario Cenolli, Jake Gottlieb, Guy Helman, Michael Sacks, Guy Morris (capt), Daniel Stanton, Josh Kennet (sub: Andy Glynne), David Soutar, Jordan Marks (sub: Dean Marks), Paul Hakim, Adam Bolle (sub: Ben Ellis)
Goals: Adam Bolle (2), Jake Gottlieb
Man-of-the-match: Guy Morris