London Lions reserves maintained their advantage at the top of the Herts Senior County League Reserve Division One with a 3-0 victory over Baldock Town.
Make no mistake, this was a real hard game of football but, once again, Lions dug deep and eventually ran out deserved winners over an impressive visiting Baldock side.
Lions made their customary half a dozen changes. Top scorer Ben Ellis returned to the starting line up with places on the bench for Ben Joseph after injury, Jon Ellis after his ‘Saturday Sabbatical’ and for 16-year-old Josh Lewis following his impressive showings in the youth teams. And young Oli Craig, also a star of the clubs Under 18 set up, came in for a full debut at left back.
The opening period was fiercely contested with the Lions back four needing to be on their toes. Craig slotted in well, and after a shaky start due to the pace of the game really found his feet and contributed greatly to the team, never more so than when exacting a goal line clearance with the game still deadlocked.
Adam Lauffer too shrugged off any lingering rust felt the previous game with an excellent performance with Schindler and Helman as dependable as they have been pretty much all season long.
In the middle of the park Lions though really excelled, with skipper Becker outstanding alongside the class of Linger while Ori Kobi as ever looked to link up the play. Lions created the first chance of note, Julius feeding the overlapping Craig who’s cross was volleyed over the bar on the run by Nick Goodman.
Ellis and Julius both wriggled their ways into threatening positions but were unable to seriously trouble the Town keeper and, as the half wore on, the front three seemed to struggle to stay on the same wavelength with their threat gradually waning.
And so at the other end Lions came under some pressure of their own. The back four continued to stand up to the test well, but it required two moments of great goalkeeping from Danny Berliner to retain parity, first bravely pushing away a free kick despite talking a clattering from the post before pulling off an incredible instinctive palm over as the Baldock forward met a driven cross barely eight yards out.
Encouraged to get themselves more into the game in during the interval (forcefully so by an impassioned Schindler), the front three set about Baldock in determined fashion in the second period. Linger and Becker became a central two with Julius and Ben Joseph deployed wider of them as Lions went on the front foot. Julius beat his man before delivering a peach of a ball but Ellis headed over.
Having produced his miraculous goaline clearance moments earlier, Craig combined with Julius to great affect, this time the latter’s cross was missed by Ellis before Goodman, stealing in at the far post, saw his effort brilliantly parried by the keeper. Lions though were not to be denied. Joseph tricked his way into the box and crossed low and hard, Ellis finally forcing the ball home after it had bounced about – Lions led.
Lewis then entered the fray to give Goodman a well earned rest and he was quickly in the action. Holding it up well he fed in Linger, but he just couldn’t beat the last man.
The game was still in the balance somewhat when Becker fed Ellis. Allowed a run on his man the Lions hitman needed no other invitation as he burst away and drilled home low and hard. Young Lewis spurned a good chance to mark his impressive cameo with a goal before Tim Becker’s corner was met by a bullet header from that man Schindler to put the icing on the cake.
Lions reserves: Danny Berliner, Adam Lauffer, Danny Schindler, Tim Becker, Paul Linger, Daniel Helman (sub: Ben Joseph), Jeremy Julius, Ori Kobi (sub: Jonny Ellis), Ollie Craig, Nick Goodman (sub: Josh Lewis), Ben Ellis