JC MSFL PREMIER DIVISION
FAITHFOLD A 5 LONDON MACCABI LIONS A 2
A hat-trick from stalwart striker DARYL PHILLIPS steered Faithfold towards a glorious win over the Lions at Chase Lodge.
Alex Kaye and Rocky Spitzer were the other marksmen on a memorable morning for the Superhoops.
Lions made the short trip to Mill Hill to face early season high-flyers Faithfold in an extremely important league fixture for both clubs.
With Faithfold tasting defeat for the first time this season last week, the home side were keen to continue their recent dominance over the Rowley Lane outfit to consolidate what has been an impressive start to their league campaign so far.
The game started evenly with neither side able to fully gain control of the contest, but it was the visitors who would have been more pleased with the start. However, an early Faithfold goal was soon to signal the beginning of a spell of dominance from the hosts.
With just 10 minutes gone a defensive lapse from Lions meant they failed to clear the second ball from a deep-lying Faithfold set-piece and this moment of hesitancy allowed Phillips time to stab home from close-range.
The goal visibly buoyed the Faithfold side and they began to enjoy long periods of possession whilst at the same time fashioning some decent, if not spectacular attempts on the Lions goal.
The continued pressure from the Superhoops was soon to pay dividends, as again Lions were the architects of their own downfall. In similar circumstances to the first goal, Lions failed to properly deal with a seemingly harmless delivery into the box, only to allow the impressive Kaye both time and space to swivel and loop the ball over Sam Singer in the Lions goal.
With the home side two goals to the good, Lions knew they were facing an uphill task to get back into the game in the second period.
Lions would have been extremely disappointed with the way in which they started the game and the lacklustre demeanour showed in the first half is clearly not conducive to producing the types of results they so desperately crave.
Things were to go from bad to worse for the away side just moments after the break, with Faithfold further increasing their lead after a misplaced pass in the Lions midfield again allowed Phillips to tuck the ball home after a cross from the Faithfold right.
Mission improbable was to become mission almost impossible as yet another sloppy passage of defensive play presented the clinical Phillips with a chance for his hat-trick, which he duly took and dispatched to put the home side 4-0 up.
With what can only be politely described as a shambolic opening 60 minutes to the game from a Lions perspective, the remaining half an hour was going to prove insightful to say the least.
It would have been easy for the Lions side to fold and concede a few more goals but to their credit, the 10 Lions players dug their proverbial heels in and competed valiantly for the remainder of the game.
Spurred on by skipper Yoav Lebens, Lions were everything they weren’t for the opening hour. They began to win tackles, distribute the ball better and create a number of goal-scoring opportunities after striker Mike Pearson was starved of any meaningful service before that time.
They deservedly got back a consolation goal and what a goal it was. The outstanding Elliot Stern on the right flank provided some much-needed drive and impetus to the Lions side and it was his direct running past three Faithfold players that saw him release Pearson. He in turn took a deft touch inside of his defender before unleashing an unstoppable curling left footed effort into the top left-hand corner. Few better goals will be seen at this level of football and was tangible reward for the tireless shift put in under tough circumstances by top-scorer Pearson.
Like Stern, substitute Shim Bensoor too added much to the game from a Lions standpoint with a performance full of grit and determination. Fellow substitute Jeremy Julius returned to action in his first performance of the season and he marked it with a pinpoint delivery on to Lebens’ head to reduce the arrears further.
Lions continued to press forward and try to put pressure on the Faithfold rearguard. With 10 minutes remaining, Lions knew if they could get a third goal quickly, the home side would be in for a nervy finish. However, as Lions pushed forward they were lucky to escape a couple of near misses from the Faithfold forward players, who should have put the game to bed.
With Lions unable to make any further inroads, Faithfold did eventually get their fifth from a superb run and finish from winger Rocky Spitzer, as he unleashed a sweet left-footed strike across Singer into the side netting.
With only two minutes left to play neither side were able to strike again, leaving Faithfold the deserved victors on the day.
Lions will be left to think about what might have been if they had showed the same attitude for the full match as they did in their impressive final 30-minute performance. Although coming away from Chase Lodge empty-handed in terms of points, it is essential that Lions take away the relevant lessons learned and put that right going forward, starting next week when they entertain North London Raiders at the Lane.
Jubilant Faithfold boss Zuriel Solomon told JC Sport: "We showed a lot of character today after last week's result. This week we were clinical, were strong physically and played some good football.
"We took our goals well, in particular Daryl who was excellent and whose all-round game was brilliant. It was a good performance by us although for a 15-minute period in the second half where Lions created and scored two goals we then dug in and scored to see out the game."
LML joint-player-manager Josh Newman told JC Sport: "Faithfold were excellent and showed what a good side they are. Zuriel has really got them playing well."