A hat-trick from Matt Stock helped London Lions produce arguably their best performance of the season to crush Bedford Town Reserve 5-2 in the South Midlands League Division One.
The Lions produced a football feast that would have graced any higher level against an excellent Bedford side whose first team play in the Zamaretto Premier league.
Both sides produced a great advert for football and it was the home side who drew first blood 68 seconds into the game. Lions squandered possession from their throw which Bedford capitalised on. As the ball came loose in the Lions box they had two chances to clear both of which were unsuccessful. The second failed clearance fell invitingly to Bedford’s Ashraff and he finished well to stun the visitors.
Lions eventually settled down into a rhythm which was unbreakable for the remainder of the game. The Lions midfield of Andy Glynne, Daniel Stanton and Ben Lauffer were magnificent, working tirelessly to stop the opposition gaining the upper hand and the front three of Matt Stock, James Gershfield and Adam Stolerman equally as effective causing endless nightmares for the home sides defence.
After a good sustained period of pressure Lions finally drew level all-be-it courtesy of an unfortunate own goal. A lovely ball into the Bedford box caused confusion between the keeper and the covering defender and the latter directed the ball into his own goal.
For the next 15 minutes Lions arguably played some of their best football this season. The crowd of just over 40 were witnessing some delightful one and two touch football as Lions caressed the ball around effortlessly. Lions took the lead thanks to Stock’s first goal of the afternoon. Back from a long lay-off due to studies it was if he hadn’t been away. Cutting in from the left and drawing the keeper before calmly slotted the ball home.
Eight minutes before half-time Lions secured a two goal advantage thanks again to Stock. Great build up play down the Lions right released Stolerman who expertly found Stock after his great run into the box, composing himself he had the easy task of slotting home from six yards.
The question at half-time was could Lions carry on from where they left off?
Bedford Town came out firing on all cylinders as the tempo of the game increased once again. The Lions rear guard of Aron Barnes, Adam Myeroff, Guy Morris and Rob Glass were now finally up to speed and defended strongly to avert any danger.
On 65 minutes Lions made it 4-1 as Gershfield scored his 19th goal in nine games a statistic any forward at this level should be proud of.
It would have been easy for Bedford to throw the towel in and give up with the game pretty much out of sight but credit to the home side for digging in and continuing to fight. Eventually they were rewarded as they pulled a goal back with 15 minutes remaining.
Time enough for Lions to score a fifth and for Stock to complete a well deserved hat-trick.
Lions manager Tony Gold said: “Bedford Town have a fantastic set up, great pitch, lovely stadium and obviously a first team that play at a very good level. You can’t help but get inspired and have aspirations that one day we at Lions will have having similar.
“Today the players showed what they are capable of not only on a playing level but on a level of game understanding, disciplined concentration and immense mental strength. Going a goal down as early as we did could have been disastrous but the lads showed what a fantastic group they are.
“Unbeaten in our last 12 league games shows incredible character in fact the teams overall record in the last two years speaks volumes.
“The important thing now is to keep working hard, keep striving to improve and keep on doing the basics well.”
Lions next league game is against leaders Berkhamsted next Saturday.
Lions: Danny Berliner, Aron Barnes, Adam Myeroff, Guy Morris, Rob Glass, Ben Lauffer (sub: Danny Berg), Daniel Stanton (sub: Tony Gold), Adam Stolerman (sub: TJ Keterman), Andy Glynne, James Gershfield, Matt Stock. Sub not used: Darren Yarlett
Man of the match: Andy Glynne