WATFORD FRIENDLY LEAGUE UNDER 10 CUP FINAL
LONDON MACCABI LIONS A 2 WHETSTONE WANDERERS TIGERS 3 (AFTER EXTRA-TIME)
London Maccabi Lions'S under-10 A team experienced heartbreak as they were edged out 3-2 by the Tigers, losing to a late winner in the last minute of extra-time to Whetstone Wanderers Tigers.
The match was a thrilling contest between the WFL's two best under-10 teams, with the Lions, who had recently become the first under-10 Lions team to achieve runners-up spot in the top WFL Red Division, facing newly-crowned champions Whetstone.
The match was played at the stadium of Harvesters FC in bright sunshine between a crowd of nearly 200, all enthralled at the standard of football being played by boys of this age.
Whetstone, with several professional club academy representatives in their ranks, were immediately pushed on to the back foot by a focused Lions team, who played their way through Whetstone with neat interplay and strong desire.
Whetstone launched quick breaks, but Lions keeper Oli Kent held firm and produced a number of sharp saves.
The Lions forged ahead after 15 minutes as Joseph Sher carried the ball down the Whetstone left before playing in Sam Clarfield on the left-hand side of the box to slip the ball into the far right corner of the net.
A stunned Whetstone tried to strike back pressing Lions down the wings, but a very discipline midfield held firm and Eli Miller and Ethan Myers gave yet another defensive masterclass to see Lions to half time leading 1-0.
The second half saw Whetstone become increasingly frustrated. Lions captain Daniel Misrahi went close from a Ben Lever corner and Harry Dryan hit the post after a superb cross shot volley from outside the box with Whetstone being limited to long-distance efforts.
Ultimately the Lions were punished for not finishing the game off as Whestone equalised after a defensive loss of concentration and a goalmouth scramble 10 minutes from time.
The momentum now shifted to Whetstone and two minutes later Whetstone's outstanding central midfielder, playing his last match before joining QPR's Academy, smashed in a shot from 20 yards to give Whetstone a 2-1 lead.
With time running out, the Lions rallied in search of an equaliser against a well-drilled Whetstone defence and a stunning strike from Jordan Copans took the tie to extra-time. Receiving the ball on the right wing halfway inside the opposition half, he took the ball in his stride to beat the first Whetstone defender before turning inside, beating the second man just inside the box, taking on the final defender and then curling a last gasp spectacular equaliser.
Lions were the stronger team in the first half of extra-time but they were unable to make the breakthrough and the match looked destined for penalties until Whetstone won a late corner. From the whipped in corner the Whetstone centre forward, the WFL's top scorer with 35 goals in all competitions this season, rose to power an unstoppable header into the Lions net.
With just seconds remaining, the Lions threw everything forward, but Whetstone held on to break the young Lions hearts and secure the cup.
The Lions should take great pride from their performance in this match and over the season as a whole and in a few years time these boys - six of whom have now played together for four years - will be looking to form the foundation of future generations of Maccabiah squads.