MOLTEN SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE RESERVE DIVISION ONE
LONDON LIONS RESERVES 1 HODDESDON TOWN 0
In one of the few games to survive the weather, a fine all-round team performance saw Lions record a hugely satisfactory home victory against an excellent Hoddesdon Town team.
Despite the downpours the surface at Rowley Lane was simply superb, save for a little standing water at the far end, at KO time for this tightly contested Spartan League game.
Lions resisted the temptation to strengthen following the postponement of the 1st XI match and went into the game boosted by the returns of Cohen, Beerman and and Joseph from injury while Dan Green took the absent skipper's striking role.
Acting captain Frank Hyman asked for a fast start and that's exactly what he got as the hosts went at Hoddesdon from the off. The pace of Ollie Craig and David Cohen at full-back gave Lions the insurance to press, and with Kyle Bentwood excelling throughout in an unfamiliar midfield role, the guile of Ben Lauffer and George Fierstone was allowed to come to the fore.
An early ball from the latter was brilliantly taken by Shai Revivo, but his low cross just evaded the sliding Green before Matt Stock's run and cross saw Revivo himself inches away from applying a finish.
Hoddesdon though were by no means passengers, and building on their own solid foundations started to get a little more of the ball. They had some fine players of their own who also just wanted to play, making for an entertaining passage although one that led to few clear-cut chances.
A momentary lapse in concentration saw Lions keeper Danny Berliner out sharply to bravely smother, but the Lions no. 1 was otherwise troubled only by a couple of crosses and corners that he as always dealt with with aplomb.
Stock's pace and ability coupled with Fierstone's vision saw the two combining to create. Fierstone shot just over before Lauffer's exquisite pass saw Green's rocket of a shot force a terrific save from the visiting keeper. He should though have scored minutes later when after more Stock trickery the ball was pulled back into his path, his shot though lacked the power or direction to cause the keeper any problems, before Stock's run across the area was crudely halted, the referee seemingly the only one who didn't think it a clear-cut penalty.
The stalemate was though broken just on half time and was just reward fro this period of dominance. Bentwood found Fierstone who stepped inside and, from 20 yards, simply sidefooted a finish right into the bottom corner beyond the keeper's despairing dive to give Lions a half time lead.
Hoddesdon were at it from the off as the second half got underway, but an all-round excellent defensive performance, and it needed to be, meant other than the routine Berliner was relatively untroubled.
On the break Lions remained a constant threat, Craig and Stock in particular with some driving runs that should have led to better.
With the rain getting worse the ball began to hold up in places where standing water gathered. This almost proved costly for the visitors when a back header to the keeper stopped half way home. Green anticipated well and got there first, but to Lions' dismay he sidefooted over the bar with the goal at his mercy.
And Lions began to wonder if it was not going to be their day when Stock was again upended in the box only for the penalty appeal to be once more waved away.
With the clock ticking down Hoddesdon had a final chance, swinging in a free-kick that Berliner gathered superbly and bravely at the feet of the striker.
The final moments were seen out with some excellent keep ball down the right by Myles Beerman, Max Kyte and Lauffer to ensure the three points.
In terrible conditions the quality of the game was a credit to both sides. Lions shaded it in terms of possession and clear-cut chances, but Hoddesdon's second half performance meant it really was a hard earned three points.
Lions Reserves: Danny Berliner, Shai Revivo (sub: Max Kyte), David Cohen (sub: Myles Beerman), Frank Hyman, Laurence Judah, Kyle Bentwood, Ben Lauffer, George Fierstone (sub: Ben Joseph), Dan Green, Matt Stock, Ollie Craig