WATFORD FRIENDLY LEAGUE UNDER 18 CHALLENGE CUP FINAL
London Maccabi Lions 3 Leverstock 1
London Maccabi Lions concluded an excellent season by winning the WFL Challenge Cup after beating Leverstock 3-1 in the final at Harvesters FC.
The Lions were forced to dig deep in a well-contested match as they were forced to put their free-flowing football to one side and grind out a result against dogged opposition.
The early chances fell to Leverstock and it needed a brilliant goalline clearance from Lions’ Joshua Nagli to keep the scores level after five minutes.
Lions’ first chance came soon after when the inspiration Jordan Marks crossed low and hard into the box and Josh Bloom was just unable to reach his delivery.
Leverstock forged ahead on 19 minutes when the Lions were unable to deal with a corner and a Leverstock player turned the ball in at the far post.
The Lions rallied and two minutes later, Benji Weinberger saw his shot saved by the keeper. This was to be his last contribution of the final as he forced off with a twisted ankle. He was replaced by Matt Perlman who was to give the Lions an injection of pace down the right-hand side.
With the bit between their teeth the Lions drew level just after the half hour mark when a burst from Perlman ended with a precision cross that Bloom headed into the path of Charlie Rubin whose strike was parried by the keeper which left Bloom with a simple tap-in for his 30th of the season.
With half time approaching, Marks and Perlman went close but the teams went into the break all square.
The message at the interval was positive in the Lions camp, with quality football and no regrets the order of the day.
The Lions made the better start at the start of the second half but Nick Lewis and Rubin were unable to convert good openings.
The Lions remained patient in the face of some excellent defending from Leverstock but the pressure told on 75 minutes when a long throw from Nick Landesberg was flicked on by Bloom for Marks to head home at the near post.
From this point the Lions stepped up a gear and secured the match when another quality corner from Charlie Rubin was headed home by captain Landesberg with five minutes remaining.
Victory enabled Lions to complete a cup double, although they have some injury concerns ahead of a midweek double-header in the league.
Nagli was named man-of-the-match after putting in a solid shift and great defensive display at right back.
Lions joint-manager Nicky Bloom said: “In the end we did it but it was far more tense than last week but to finish the season with two cups is a really fabulous achievement.
“Well done to our magnificent boys and our fantastic coach Oli.”