SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
LONDON TIGERS 1 LONDON LIONS 3
London Lions claimed their first win of the season, defeating London Tigers 3-1 to move up to mid-table in the process.
It was the club’s first win of the season and their first at this level and it was fully justified after several months of hard work and graft.
Lions lined up strongly with David Soutar back from injury, Mitch Hahn coming in on loan from Enfield Town and Kyle Bentwood making a return to first team action after a year out.
The home side took the lead after 15 minutes following a shocking start to the game by the visitors. Lions squandered cheap possession in the middle of the park, Bentwood was then turned far too easily allowing the Tiger’s forward an easy shot on goal which Jake Doffman could do nothing about.
Seeing his side getting over run in the middle, Lions manager Tony Gold moved Soutar from left back into the holding midfield role, allowing Harry Hatchwell and Hahn to push further forward. The change in shape made an immediate impact.
Lions then started to create good chances and should have been level on 25 minutes, but Adam Bolle’s driven shot was well saved by the home side’s keeper. The chance gave Bolle confidence and he had two further chances to get on the scoresheet but once again the Tiger’s keeper was equal to both efforts.
At the other end, the Tigers were struggling to find a second goal as the Lions back four had got their act together and were being well organised by the outstanding Michael Sacks.
Lions then had the best chance of the game just before the break but once again Bolle was thwarted by another terrific save.
Lions manager Tony Gold would have been pleased with his sides endeavour in the first 45 minutes and knew patience and concentration would eventually pay off.
Just five minutes into the second half a Lions cross was cleared to Hahn whose shot was parried and then cleared. The writing was on the wall and on 60 minutes Lions were level. Jordan Marks delivered a great corner and Sacks rose to head home a fully deserved equaliser.
The next goal would prove to be crucial and it was Lions who took the initiative. A Soutar free-kick, which the referee allowed to take early, was curled beautifully into the goal leaving the home side furious. The resultant protests ended in one of the Tigers players being dismissed for foul and abusive language.
It was Lions who saw red next with TJ Keterman getting his marching orders for abusing one of the Tigers' players right in front of the referee. Then with 15 minutes remaining Tigers got another player dismissed for an unnecessary stamp on Hatchwell.
Lions then made a change with 12 minutes remaining, Gold came on for the tired looking Marks.
As the game entered the final five minutes Lions secured the win with a third goal. A surging run from Hahn ended with his cross being cleared to Gold. Gold drove at the defender and getting half a yard shot across the keeper the ball nestled neatly into the bottom corner of the goal.
Over the 90 minutes it was a fully deserved three points and should now give the Lions players confidence to believe they can push on and win many more games.
A delighted Lions manager Tony Gold said: "Today was a real heart-warming performance. We just need to find a way to be more clinical and take chances when they come.
"We could have been two or three up by half-time but instead we were one down. It was a good game that ebbed and flowed but the performance gives me a lot of pleasure and I am positive there is more to come.
"We have been through a tough period and without doubt we will go through many more, but we have shown if we keeping working hard, and the players keep doing the right things that eventually the hard work pays off. Now we have to ensure we keep that work ethic as we have even greater tests ahead."
Lions: Jake Doffman, Jamie Nagioff, Ricky Engleman, David Soutar, Kyle Bentwood, Michael Sacks, TJ Keterman, Harry Hatchwell, Mitch Hahn, Adam Bolle, Jordan Marks (sub: Tony Gold)
Goals: David Soutar, Michael Sacks, Tony Gold
Sent off: Keterman
Man-of-the-match: Michael Sacks