London Maccabi Lions Under Nine’s reached the fifth round of the County Cup after beating Stevenage Town Youth 3-1 after extra time.
Going up against a Stevenage side unbeaten in their respective league, Lions manager Lee Collins knew that this was going to be a massive test of character for his cubs.
Stevenage started extremely well pressing forward at every opportunity and they started to take control of the first half. Lions keeper Hadley Shapps needed to be in top form and he was up to the task, pushing a fine free kick past the post.
But it was the Lions who created the chance of the half with Dylan Bull seeing an effort smack against the bar with the rebound cleared of the line.
The second period started with Stevenage eager to break the deadlock and eventually the goal came when a good bit of trickery from the Stevenage centre forward allowed him to break free and slide the ball under Shapps.
The Lions now had fifteen minutes to rescue the tie and started to pepper the Stevenage goal with chance after chance but they just could not break through the resolute defence.
The pressure paid off a minute from time when Joey Gold found space and lifted the ball into the net taking the tie into extra-time. The scenes of celebration were something to behold as both parents and players celebrated as if the cup had been won.
At this stage, the Lions felt in control of the tie and there were clear signs that Stevenage were buckling under the pressure. Gold put the Lions in the box seat with a well-placed shot that took a slight deflection but found the corner of the net.
Stevenage looked a beaten team and their heads started to drop and it came as no surprise when Joe Leslie scored a third after being put through by Ollie Russell and rounding the keeper.
Lions manager Lee Collins said: “I can only be described as the most fabulous and fantastic game you could ever see at any age of football.”
The Lions now advance to the quarter-finals of the competition and after this performance, Collins sees “no reason why they will not be lifting the trophy in May”.
Lions: Hadley Shapps, George Bier, Louis Perl, Olly Russell, Dylan Bull, Joey Gold, Joe Leslie