GARSTON VETS LEAGUE
LONDON LIONS 1 LATYMER OLD BOYS 0
Lions returned to action after a month with no football and, despite being far from their fluent best, did enough to overcome a tough and energetic Latymer side thanks to a solitary goal from skipper Brad Lazarus.
The festive hangover was still apparent long before kick-off as Lions lost Richard Baum and Paul Linger. This meant a reshuffle of his pack by Dan Jacobs and a late spot on the bench for a supposedly injured Dan Reuben who, in his borrowed orange boots, sparkled both on and off the pitch.
Lions struggled to get any real tempo into the game early on as the visitors were happy to sit back and soak up pressure and then looking to exploit the pace and skill of their stand out player up front. This almost worked a treat as after Lions failed to get anything on a number of Lazarus crosses Latymer broke clear and were denied the lead only by the width of the post. That scare apart though the Lions back four of Danny Schindler, Craig Henry, Andy Myers and Jon Rayner comfortably kept Jacobs a quite happy spectator.
Reuben and Adam Kaye were introduced and gave Lions a spark, the latter almost immediately skinning his full back and winning Lions a corner. From the set-play Schindler saw his header cleared off the line, Kaye nodding the rebound goalwards only to see the crossbar deny him and Lions the opener.
It remained goalless at the interval but it was a more puposeful Lions that came out for the second half. With Pearl and Reuben controlling midfield it allowed Lions a change of shape and the option to add another attacker to proceedings. They knocked constantly on the door, but were in general let down by poor final delivery from players who are so much better, although one great move saw Kaye denied again only by the woodwork.
With an hour played and no breakthrough it felt like it could be one of those days, but fears were soon eased, albeit from Latymer's best situation of the half. Winning a corner the forward's header forced Jacobs into a decent save. His immediate throw sent Rayner dashing forwards where he fed the supporting Piler. His through ball sent Lazarus free on goal from half way, and, calmess personfied he held off the covering defender, drew the keeper and slipped the ball past him to finally give Lions a derserved lead.
Kaye and Max Radford spurned decent openings, Reuben's 35-yarder was palmed over the bar before Lenchner passed up a great chance to make the game safe but shot at the keeper. It led to a few nervous moments for Lions, but Latymer were unable to fashion another clear sight of Jacobs' goal before the final whistle so the first points of 2014 came to the Rowely Lane outfit.
Lions: Dan Jacobs, Jon Rayner, Craig Henry (sub: Craig Pearl), Danny Schindler, Danny Piler, Paul Buxton (sub: Adam Kaye), Andy Myers, Danny Reuben, Bradley Lazarus, Paul Lenchner, Max Radford