London Maccabi Lions Masters brave run in the London Masters Veterans Cup was halted at the quarter-finals stage after putting up a fine show against an Interwood Vets side including a number of ex semi-professionals players.
Lining up against former Reading star Michael Gilkes and Andy Clarke, the ex-Barnet, Wimbleondon and Peterborough winger, the Lions settled well into their stride against well drilled opponents.
Playing primarily on the counter attack, the home side used the pace and guile of Tony Gold, Adam Lee and Max Radford to trouble the visitors. Ten minutes in and the Lions took the lead when Radford jinked in from the left and fired a fabulous shot into the bottom corner giving the Interwood keeper no chance.
The pattern of play had by this stage been established. Interwood pushed and probed but were repelled by a resolute back four. Jon Rayner hooked clear when under massive pressure and Paul Buxton dived to block a goalbound shot that would have had Interwood level.
However, it was not all one-way traffic and the Lions used their short passing game to trouble the Interwood rearguard. They doubled their lead when substitute Adam Brand used his pace to surge between the Interwood centre backs and fire from an acute angle.
Lions then held onto their two-goal lead into the break as under increasing pressure, Warren Leader, David Kyte and Craig Henry gave the Interwood forward line little or no time to pull the trigger. When called upon, keeper Danny Jacobs saved well but clear cut chances were at a premium.
As so often in a game of football, the half time break changed the course of the game. Interwood stepped up the pace and poured forward. The Lions did not defend as well as some sloppy midfield and defensive play allowed the ball to break kindly for the visitor’s striker who drove home.
The next 15 minutes proved the turning point as the Lions conceded a further three goals as a suspected handball by Gilkes allowed him to smash the ball into the top corner.
The same player jinked down the touchline and scored again from an acute angle.
And to add insult to injury, a poor backpass was cleared and fell to the Interwood striker who calmly chipped Jacobs.
Perversely, the Lions started to play their best football. Danny Reuben and Bradley Lazarus started to find some space and Lazarus was close to chipping the keeper from a full 40 yards. However, the game petered out with no further goals but some tired Lions legs.
A great effort but perhaps with some better second half defending, who knows what might have happened.
Lions: Jacobs, Rayner, Buxton, Kyte, Henry, Leader, D. Lazarus, B. Lazarus, Lee, Radford, Gold. Subs: Schwarz, Brand, Dale, Reuben