London Lions boss Tony Gold has challenged his team to repeat their efforts of the first half of the season as they bid to land the Herts Senior County League Premier Division title for the first time.
Gold, who recently turned down an offer to manage at a higher level in the South Midlands Premier Division, is fully committed to driving forward the country’s top all-Jewish team.
Along with his assistant, former Spurs player Steve Grenfell, who also coaches the Tottenham Under 11 academy team, Gold believes that consistency has played a big part in their success to date. He said: “Steve and I always said we had the players with potential to do well in this league but we needed the consistency to match that potential.
“So far, the consistency has been 100 per cent better then last season and the statistics speak for themselves. Fitness levels have greatly improved as have the player’s mentality to the task in hand. The boys are mentally stronger this year which is credit to them. This is all backed up by the strongest reserve team the club has ever had, supported by the strongest reserve team management.”
Gold has had to make some tough decisions in terms of the playing personnel. With the team lying three points clear at the top of the table, he said: “Rob Abrahams, Adam Klein, Max Fieldgrass and Aviel Schwarz decided for whatever reasons that their football abilities lay elsewhere and I wish them well.
“Every cloud has a silver lining and with Matt Davis and Danny Berg joining the ranks we have in fact got stronger. I am of course always looking to strengthen the team but only with players I believe will fit into the fantastic environment we and the players have created.
“We had a particularly hard pre-season which set out our stall early on and got the players in the right frame of mind.
“As for individual players this season, I must say first and foremost that the team is playing tremendously well within the system Steve and I have set out. We have no superstars and everyone works for each other which is paramount. It would very unfair to pick out any one particular individual for praise because in all truth they have all put in their shift.”
The team has the best defensive record in the division, conceding 17 goals in 18 games. Gold said: “Our defence has been very consistent this season with Eddie Manson, Adam Myeroff, Adam Lauffer, Guy Morris all having good seasons. Myeroff is almost back to the top of his game after injury and Morris on his day is a class above. Manson has shown a tremendous consistency in terms of games played and performance.
“Midfield is where we have really grown in stature. Rob Glass always leads from the front with his heart on his sleeve being supported by Ben Lauffer who, by his own admission, hasn’t yet produced his best although still very consistent.
“Ben Lampert has already scored nine goals from 18 games in midfield which is a great return at this level from midfield. Daniel Castle has brought an important winning mentality and never-say-die attitude which really rubs off on all the lads and has also put in some strong performances.”
Strikers Adam Stolerman and Lee Cash have contributed 36 goals in all competitions though Gold believes that there is still room for improvement.
“Adam’s record speaks for itself although he knows that could have, and maybe should be, more goals with a little more composure. Lee hasn’t played as much as he or I would have liked due to work commitments with the same applying to Alex Levack. Dominique Cheniart and Nick Goodman started the season really well while Guy Helman, with his versatility, has probably had one bad game all season.”
Keeper Danny Berliner has been outstanding when on first team duty, with Ben Ellis, Dan Green, Ben Graham, Shai Revivo and Josh Newman doing well when called upon. “At this moment in time they need to keep playing well with the reserves and grow with each performance,” said Gold. “Steve and I keep a close watch on all developments with the help of Danny Jacobs and Jon Green, the reserve team managers, giving regular reports.
Looking ahead to the second half of the season, Gold said: “I said to the lads before Christmas, if they match or better the record they set in the first 15 games, they will win the league and I stand by that. My main job now is to ensure that complacency doesn’t creep in and that we continue to work and push forward.
“I am not looking to bring in any more players at this point but if the right player presents himself and I believe he will give us that little extra in our push for the title then of course I will bring him in.
“Unlike other managers at this level, my hands are pretty much tied in terms of players I can bring in as they have to be Jewish so my options are greatly reduced. Not only do you have to be Jewish but you also have to be mentally strong and play well outside your comfort zone and its this area I believe that stops potentially good Jewish players making the step up.
“I am constantly scouting the JC MSFL for new blood with players that show potential but they have got to want to make the commitment to Saturday football which granted isn’t easy. I guess most Jewish players are just happy having a kick-about with their mates on a Sunday but some decent talent does go to an unfortunate waste.
“I need to keep our players injury-free, holiday-free and make sure we keep picking up important results away from home which to date we have done fantastically well.
“The players also need to really start believing that they can achieve this and channel that belief into their performances playing with no fear in the final 15 games of the season.”
Lions entertain Wormley Rovers in the quarter-final of the Herts Centenary Cup tomorrow.