MOLTEN SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE RESERVE DIVISION ONE
AFC DUNSTABLE 3 LONDON LIONS RESERVES 6
London Lions Reserves boosted their title hopes by hitting AFC Dunstable for six in a game where which they were far from their best in an ultimately comfortable win against their spirited hosts.
Lions started with 10 of the 11 who took to the field last week, this time not greeted by a heavy pitch but by a 3G Astroturf to add a different challenge. Dunstable certainly had one or two excellent players, but as a defensive unit struggled to keep Lions at bay. However, with Lions spurning several excellent openings, the hosts were given undue encouragement.
On 20 minutes Lions were awarded a penalty when Green burst past his man only to be crudely upended. However, a linesman's flag from a previous attack fully 30 seconds earlier, strangely was enough to convince the referee to overule his earlier decision.
Thankfully it wasn't to prove decisive, and soon after TJ Keterman's run and calm finish gave Lions the lead.
A superb team move involving Mannie, Bern, Keterman and Goodman saw Dan Green presented with a golden chance, but unfortunately the finish didn't match the build-up. However, the young striker, who worked tirelessly throughout the opening period and more than made amends when he drilled home from 20 yards to double Lions' lead.
More chances came and went - Green, Goodman, Mannie and Bern all guilty of spurning good opportunities - before Mannie sent Nick Goodman clear to slot home and provide a 3-0 half-time lead.
In his last game for Lions before leaving for a new adventure in New York, keeper Danny Berliner, handed the captaincy for the day, was hoping to keep a clean sheet. But these hopes were dashed when following a half-cleared corner, the ball was returned with interest into his top corner.
Lions responded almost immediately, Daran Bern curling a beauty for 4-1. Lions introduced new signing Toby Levy. He showed some nice touches and could, in fact should, have marked his debut with a goal or two, but like those before him passed up a couple of great chances.
Bern's pace was a real threat, one mazy run freed Green but he spooned over before Bern himself dragged one wide.
Out of nothing Lions then conceded a silly penalty - Berliner made the save to his left but the rebound fell kindly. Again Lions went up the other end, Bern making it 5-2 before he completed his hat-trick with a neat far post finish after an excellent Mannie cross.
A mix-up between Berliner and Hyman ended with the ball chipped over the pair of them from 25 yards - a great finish - to take a little gloss off, but in truth Lions had come away from home and more than done enough to secure the three points and ensure their stay at the top of the table for another week.
NB: Danny Berliner has excelled for this team over several seasons, proving himself to be on a par with any goalkeeper at this level - one vs one they've never seen anybody better. He's been a pleasure to manage, buying in to all we've been trying to do. He's been a huge part of the successes this team has had - both on and off the pitch he will be sorely missed. Lions wish him the very very best of luck.
Lions Reserves: Danny Berliner, Myles Beerman, Frank Hyman, Kyle Bentwood, Dan Green, Laurence Judah (sub: David Cohen), Shai Revivo, Nick Goodman (sub: Toby Levy), Liron Mannie, Daran Bern, TJ Keterman