FA VASE ROUND TWO
LONDON LIONS 2 BRIGHTLINGSEA REGENT 3
London Lions run in the FA Vase came to an end with a 3-2 defeat against Brightlingsea Regent.
To be fair, the Lions were not at their best and missing four key influential players arguably didn’t help their cause. However, not to take anything away from the visitors, they had a little more energy and desire and ultimately deserved the victory and a place in the third round.
With Daniel Stanton, Aron Barnes, Craig Ellis and Guy Helman all unavailable, the Lions management had to reshuffle the pack. Danny Berg and Adam Myeroff moved into right-back and left-back respectively with Josh Kennet coming inside alongside Sam Sloma and Andy Glynne.
The game got off to a solid start with both sides starting brightly, but it was the visitors who started to get on top around the 10-minute mark. Lions seemed to lack the understanding and fluency that has recently seen them lose only one league game out of 13.
With Brightlingsea in the ascendency and Lions somewhat all over the place with all the changes unable to get a foothold on the game, the visitors surged in front. A poor clearance from Berg from a corner left Michael Sacks, Guy Morris and Myeroff all thinking one or the other was going to deal with the returning ball into the box. No-one took responsibility allowing Brightlingsea’s Jake Holman scored a free header from eight yards out.
Soaking up a lot of defensive pressure for the next 10 minutes, Lions did eventually show some steel hitting back to draw level. Great work from Daren Bern down the Lions right saw his deep cross rammed home by the well positioned Ben Ellis.
Lions' joy of the equaliser was shortlived however as Brightlingsea surged in front once more. This time a poor defensive header from Sacks and Lions indecisiveness to clear the ball allowed Liam Whittaker to bring the ball down turn and crash home.
Lions needed to buck up their ideas as two soft goals which were uncharacteristic sent them in at half-time trailing 2-1.
The home side certainly did start the second period brighter, but still lacked that cutting edge which they needed to get back into the game. On 60 minutes Dean Nyman, George Fierstone and Jake Gottlieb were introduced replacing Myeroff, Ellis and Glynne and within seven minutes Lions were back in the game.
Nyman, who has had a stop start season due to his wedding and injury, burst clear and set up top-score Adam Bolle who dispatched his 15th goal of the season in clinical style.
That should have been the moment where Lions found the belief and determination to go on and win the game. However, they committed a cardinal sin and almost instantly squandered the lead for the third and final time.
Losing possession in the visitors third, one long ball caught Morris the wrong side of Scott Page who managed to hold off the defenders challenge and sweep the ball past the exposed Mario Cenolli in the Lions goal.
Lions' misery was compounded when Sloma had to leave the field of play after injuring his knee leaving the home side to play the final 12 minutes with 10 men.
At the final whistle Lions could have no complaints about the final result and will look back on might have been had they attacked the game with a little more vigour.
Lions manager Tony Gold said: "Our performance was disappointing from the aspect that we didn’t do ourselves justice today. Credit to Brightlingsea who took advantage of our sloppiness but in truth we were below par.
"Yes we were missing four important players today who I have no doubt would have had a positive effect on the game, but there really are no excuses because we still had more than enough out there to get a good result. Our application let us down simple as that.
"We now turn our attention back to the league and look to take out our frustrations on Hoddesdon Tuesday night. This will be another stern test but one we can pass with flying colours providing we get our application and attitude spot on."
Lions: Mario Cenolli, Danny Berg, Michael Sacks, Guy Morris (capt), Adam Myeroff (sub: Jake Gottlieb), Josh Kennet, Sam Sloma, Andy Glynne (sub: Dean Nyman), Daran Bern, Ben Ellis (sub: George Fierstone), Adam Bolle
Scorers: Ben Ellis, Adam Bolle