THE FA CUP
LONDON LIONS 3 OXHEY JETS 1
London Lions made more club history by making the first round qualifying of the FA Cup beating Oxhey Jets from the Spartan South Midlands Premier League 3-1.
Sam Sloma, Daniel Stanton and Adam Bolle were all on target in a cup tie that had it all.
And so the adventure continues ... They say winning FA Cup are what dreams are made of, well it worked for Roy of the Rovers and Melchester Rovers so you never know.
London Lions moved into the FA Cup first round qualifying, making further history in the realms of Jewish football beating Oxhey Jets from the league above 3-1. Lions now face a mouth-watering home tie against AFC Dunstable.
Lions' fantastic start to the season continued with another dogged performance which quite simply blew their opponents away.
Some magnificent individual performances contributed to a phenomenal result with Guy Morris, Michael Sacks, Craig Ellis, Andy Glynne and Daran Bern catching the eye. However, it was the performance of Lions keeper Mario Cenolli that stole the show. When called upon he stood up and was counted and made three incredible saves one in particular from the penalty spot which was a big turning point in the game.
The home side believe it or not were missing several key players, leading marksman Aron Barnes, left back Jake Gottlieb and wingers Josh Kennet and Ben Ellis were all on holiday. TJ Keterman started up top for the first time this season with Sam Sloma dropping into midfield. Adam Myeroff returned from holiday and Adam Bolle made up the Lions bench.
Oxhey Jets have in recent seasons built up a reputation as somewhat of a specialist cup team. In the two teams time in the Herts County League, Jets always seemed to have the upper hand on the Lions so there was never going to be any love lost between the two sides.
Lions manager Tony Gold and coach Darren Yarlett had done their homework and there side were well prepared as to what to expect in the forthcoming 90 minutes.
Lions were expected to start fast and get at Jets early doors. However, it was the visitors who came steaming out the blocks and within minutes were 1-0 up following an uncharacteristic mistake by Daniel Stanton on the edge of the Lions box.
Cenolli, having rolled the ball to Stanton with acres of space, soon saw his roll out turned into a nightmare as Jets closed down quickly catching Stanton in two minds. Unable to move the ball out of the danger zone, Stanton lost the ball to the Jets forward whose shot was saved by the exposed Cenolli only for the rebound to be tapped home to the other spare player in space. It was the worst possible start for Lions and now it was imperative they regrouped and started again.
The tempo of the game was high helped by the slick surface following a heavy downpour. Both sides were probing, Oxhey searching for a second goal and Lions looking for an important equaliser.
Thankfully for Lions it was the latter and down to an unstoppable run from Daran Bern which resulted in the Jets defender scathing him down in the box giving the referee no choice but to award a penalty kick. Sloma stepped up and with pin-point precision dispatched the spot-kick past the keeper and into the goal. It was game on.
The game was now simmering nicely with both sides showing a competitive edge. Jets thought they were back in front 20 minutes before half-time but Cenolli made an outstanding save to claw the ball away from danger to divert what was without doubt a certain goal.
The match then boiled over following a strong challenge from Sloma on one of the Jets players following an alleged racial comment. Ignorance is bliss but there is still no place in the modern game for antisemitic remarks.
The referee handled the situation strongly but fairly and showing three yellow cards two to Jets and one to Lions the game resumed whole heartedly.
Then 10 minutes before the interval Stanton more than made up for his earlier lapse in concentration by firing Lions in front. Twenty yards from goal he turned on a six pence and lashed the ball home sending the Lions faithful into raptures.
The visitors were left shell-shocked and the home side dug in for all their worth to see out the half with the goal advantage.
The second 45 minutes was to have everything you would want from a high-octane cup tie. Oxhey Jets came out smelling blood desperate to get back into the game which for all intense and purposes was still very close despite the Lions one goal advantage.
Then came the turning point of the match which undoubtedly gave Lions the remaining impetus. A vicious shot from the Jets forward was blocked by the out-stretched arm of Guy Morris leaving the referee no choice but award a second penalty.
Cometh the hour cometh the man. With the penalty heading for the bottom left hand corner of the goal with some considerable power, Cenolli dived full-length to his right and pulled off arguably one of the best penalty saves seen in recent memory.
With the game still in Lions favour and with 25 minutes remaining the weary Matt Stock was replaced by Adam Bolle. Bolle, who was sent-off on his debut in midweek, was to redeem himself with a superb finish to put the tie beyond Oxhey Jets.
Sloma found the space and time to slot a super pass into Bolle’s stride, not needing a second invitation he pulled clear of his marker and calmly and coolly slotted the ball past the keeper into the empty net.
The 3-1 result was fully deserved. Lions worked incredibly hard and played superbly well to set up a mouth watering tie with high flying AFC Dunstable.
A delighted Lions manager Tony Gold was full of praise for his players. “Once again the players raised the bar," he said. "Today’s performance was one of the most accomplished I have seen from a Lions team in many a year.
“Forget Terry Venables and Wembley, the FA and ESPN should get there cameras down to Hemel on September 9 because it is going to be one hell of a game against AFC Dunstable. They are an excellent footballing side from what I remember, they have some very dangerous players and it will be a cracker.
“The FA CUP adventure is still alive when it ends who knows, but one thing is certain the players will look back on this journey in years to come with very fond memories."
Lions: Mario Cenolli, Ricky Engleman, Michael Sacks, Guy Morris (capt), Andy Glynne, Daniel Stanton, Sam Sloma (sub: Adam Myeroff), Craig Ellis, Daran Bern, Matt Stock (sub: Adam Bolle), TJ Keterman. Sub not used: Tony Gold