SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
LONDON LIONS 2 SOUTHALL 2
London Lions returned to action on Saturday after nearly six weeks of not playing due to a lack of fixtures and the bad weather, managing a 2-2 draw with a hard working Southall side.
It would be fair to say that the period of inactivity hadn’t done the Lions any favours. At times during the game they looked off the pace and seemed to have lost that cohesion and rhythm that saw them sit on top the league before Christmas.
The two goals conceded were uncharacteristic of a Lions defence that still has the best defensive record in the league, but this was certainly down to the lack of match time in recent weeks.
It was a very open game with the visitors clearly intent on coming away with all three points. After quite a scrappy start to the game it was Lions who opened the scoring.
Southall’s keeper, who made some excellent saves throughout the afternoon, fumbled a harmless cross which Lions top-scorer Adam Bolle latched on to and stabbed home - he is unlikely to score an easier goal all season.
Lions then had two opportunities to extend that lead, but the visiting keeper was equal to everything that came his way.
Southall then drew level from a corner. A great run across Craig Ellis allowed the Southall forward to rise unopposed and power a great header into the back of the net.
This was a game that really could have gone either way in the second half. Lions by now had managed to shake off some of that rustiness and in patches looked back to their best. A good 15-minute spell saw them regain the lead.
Josh Kennet, who was superb all afternoon, drove to the line and delivered a beautiful cross which Bolle didn’t need a second invitation for smashing home to put Lions 2-1 up.
As legs tired, changes were made Dean Nyman, Andy Glynne and Jake Gottlieb were all introduced.
Lions had two wonderful chances to kill the game dead with 20 minutes remaining but Nyman’s lack of composure in front of goal when well placed saw both shots clear the crossbar.
Then with 10 minutes of the game left Southall scored an equaliser. Lions once again failed to clear their lines from a set-piece and from 20 yards the Southall player has lashed home a rasping shot which has beaten two defenders and a diving Mario Cenolli to reach the back of the net.
Summing up his sides first point of 2013, Lions manager Tony Gold said: "The last month has been incredibly difficult for obvious reasons. There's nothing worse for a team in full flow to have game after game cancelled due to bad weather.
"What is important now is to assess our present strengths and weaknesses identify the priorities for change and establish a series of short and long-term goals.
"Now it is all about our collective mental toughness. Our focus needs to remain strong and the durability of our concentration will be tested to the maximum."
Lions: Mario Cenolli, Danny Berg, Craig Ellis (sub: Jake Gottlieb), Guy Morris, Michael Sacks, Guy Helman, Josh Kennet, Daniel Stanton (sub: Andy Glynne), Aron Barnes, Ben Ellis (sub: Dean Nyman), Adam Bolle
Scorer: Adam Bolle (2)
Man of the match: Josh Kennet