Goals from Ben Ellis, James Gershfield and supersub Adam Stolerman steered London Lions towards their third straight win as they overcame St. Albans City Reserves in a five-goal thriller at Broxbourne Borough.
This was not one of Lions’ most fluent performances, but with a record crowd in attendance and under the lights on the lush grasses at their new home, they showed that they are learning how to win games when not at their best.
Having recorded back-to-back wins the hosts started like a team full of confidence, the Lions came close inside a minute when Gershfield burst clear, thwarted initially by the keeper before blazing the rebound over. Next it was young Ben Ellis’ turn, cutting inside onto his favoured right foot he was denied by a fine parry by the visiting keeper. Kennet was first to the loose ball could not keep his effort down.
Slowly though the young St. Albans side began to get a foothold in the game, and with the outstanding player on the night being their right winger they started to threaten themselves.
The Lions back four were at times stretched, and with Rob Glass filling in at centre half there was certainly a lack of bite in that holding midfield position.
Chances were at a premium though until, just after the half hour, the visitors broke clear. Jinking his way past Adam Myeroff, the winger whipped in a great ball. Glass did well to head clear the immediate danger, but the ball fell kindly to the unmarked Quattromini on the edge of the Lions box who struck the sweetest of first-time strikes past the helpless Berliner to give the visitors the lead, a lead they almost doubled when the same player shot wide when slipped in.
Ellis was then caught off the ball before Gershfield was blocked off when seemingly through on goal – two booking for the visitors, the latter could so easily have been red. Yet justice was almost immediately served as although the resulting free kick was cleared, the return ball was nodded home by the head of Ellis ensuring Lions went into the break on level terms.
The second period saw both teams cancel each other out to some degree, and although each managed to get into some good positions neither keeper was forced into a save of any note. In fact the only real noteworthy chance came when a quite brilliant control and spin by Gershfield grabbed him a yard, his thunderous right foot shot thudding off the foot of the post.
With the game approaching the final 10 minutes it seemed both sides had run out of ideas, that was until St Albans again got away down their right. The ball was fed across the Lions box, no Lion closed down Quottromini so he simply took aim and curled a quite delightful 20 yarder into the top corner with Berliner only able to watch and admire.
Lions reacted – on came Stolerman and Bern for the tiring Stanton and Ellis. Instantly Stolerman’s neat touches gave Lions a more potent attacking threat. Within four minutes of his introduction Lions were level. Berg drilled a ball in to Barnes, whose delightful first time flick was taken on the move by Stolerman. A dropped shoulder gave him a yard that he used to slide in a perfect ball to Gershfield; 10 yards out and without having to break stride the Lions hitman lashed the ball under the advancing keeper for a quite brilliant team goal.
Lions weren’t done, and to complete his little cameo Stolerman, leading scorer for the last three seasons, popped up at the far post to smash home a winner as the clocked ticked to 90. There was still time for more drama mind. Inexplicably St Albans, deep into stoppage time, left four men back when they won a free kick deep in Lions territory.
This though did them no good as Morris cleared, Bern collected and raced past the full back who was adjudged to have tripped him just inside the box. Barnes had the chance to seal the points but the keeper pulled off a fine save from his spot kick. A sarcastic comment to the referee saw the original sinner shown a second yellow and the visitors were reduced to 10, allowing Lions to simply run down the clock and collect a hard earned 3 points.
Victory kept the Lions in fifth in the South Midlands League Division One, and just three points off top spot.
The Blues travel to struggling Stony Stratford on Saturday in great spirits, confident that four wins on the bounce is well achievable.
Lions: Danny Berliner, Danny Berg, Aron Barnes, Adam Myeroff, Guy Morris, Rob Glass, Daniel Stanton (sub: Daran Bern), Ben Lauffer, Ben Ellis (sub: Adam Stolerman), Josh Kennet, James Gershfield. Sub not used: Andy Glynne, Harry Hatchwell