FA CUP PRELIMINARY ROUND
LONDON LIONS 1 STOTFOLD 1
London Lions' FA Cup journey is still alive as they played out a 1-1 drew with Stotfold.
It was without doubt Lions' best performance of the season so far, and with a bit more composure in front of goal they arguably could have won the game outright.
As it was, the drew means Lions now travel to Stotfold on Tuesday night for the replay.
Once again there were forced changes to the Lions side from the 3-1 defeat at AFC Dunstable. Out went Tomer Sherman, Ben Lauffer and Nick Landesberg; in came Jake Doffman for his first team debut, Michael Sacks and Jordan Marks.
Lions lined up 4-4-2 with Adam Bolle and TJ Keterman playing up top. Jake Doffman made his first team debut in goal with a back four of Ricky Engelman, Jake Gottlieb, Adam Myeroff and Michael Sacks in front of him. The midfield was completed with Nicky Lewis, Jordan Marks, Ben Joseph and Harry Hatchwell.
The game started slowly but it was evenly matched. Lions did the early running with Marks a constant menace down the left hand side. His cross into the box on 15 minutes deserved better but Bolle and Keterman just could not reach the inviting cross.
The visitors looked most dangerous at set pieces and a corner on 35 minutes almost found its way in into the back of the net following a scramble in the Lions six-yard box, but thankfully for Lions Engleman was on hand to clear the danger.
Keterman then had the best chance of the half having been put clear by Marks, but the forward lost his composure at the crucial moment and blasted his shot well over the bar.
As the game approached half-time Lions were hit with a terrible bit of luck which saw the referee award the visitors a spot kick having adjudged Doffman to have taken out a Stotfold player in the box, when it looked clear to everyone watching that it was in fact the player fouling the keeper.
However, the penalty taker saw his initial kick well saved by Doffman only for the unlucky keeper to lose grip on the ball and see it trickle into the goal.
Going in 1-0 down at half time would have been very cruel luck on Lions seeing as they had played most of the football and created the better chances in the first 45 minutes. So it was extremely pleasing to see them his back 25 seconds later and equalise.
On the stoke of half time another break down the left from Marks saw his cross cleared to Keterman. Taking one touch to set himself, his second saw his shot take a slight deflection sending the keeper one way and the ball the other. It was a great response from going a goal down which could easily have had a different effect.
Unfortunately, the second half didn’t live up to the promise of the first. Both teams lacked the cutting edge in forward areas with both defences nullifying any threat, and the game fritted out into a dull draw.
Lions manager Tony Gold said: "We got off to a reasonably good start which was pleasing, but not quite taken advantage when the opportunity was there.
"What really pleased me was the teams response to going a goal down to what was an extremely harsh penalty. To equalise almost instantaneously showed character.
"The second half was uneventful. I don’t remember us or them really creating a chance, both defences certainly cancelled out each teams attack.
"Still, today ends a run of two defeats and more importantly we are still in the FA Cup, so we look forward to Tuesday night and doing it all over again."
Lions: Jake Doffman, Ricky Engelman, Jake Gottlieb, Adam Myeroff, Michael Sacks, Nicky Lewis (sub: Jamie Nagioff), Jordan Marks, Ben Joseph, Harry Hatchwell, Jordan Marks, Adam Bolle, TJ Keterman (sub: Ben Ellis)
Scorer: TJ Keterman