SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS RESERVE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
LANGFORD 2 LONDON LIONS 2
Two goals from Nick Goodman ensured London Lions Reserves left Langford with a hard-earned point following a 2-2 draw.
With Langford's first team not having a fixture, the home side used the opportunity to bolster their ranks, boasting not just a strong starting XI but also a full bench. Contrast that to Lions who, due to illness and non-availability arrived with just 12, two of whom were injured, two of whom hadn't started a game all season and one, in sub Matt Green, with just 30 minutes experience of Saturday football.
It was therefore no surprise that the hosts started the quicker, and on 10 minutes took a deserved lead through a fine move and an expert finish.
To compound their problems Lions lost Keterman just five minutes later as he succumbed to his troublesome hamstring; Lions were up against it. However, they rolled up their sleeves and fought to get themselves a footing in the game, with Green, on at right-back, settling in well and having an excellent first real game at this level, not that you'd have known it.
Adam Myeroff and Laurence Judah were immense at the heart of the Lions defence, with Adam Hakimi and the superb Kyle Bentwood now giving Lions a solid base on which to build. They began to break up Langford forays much higher up the pitch, and some cracking through balls from Mannie saw both Matt Stock and Daran Bern both miss really excellent chances, neither forcing a real save when through one-on-one, much to the frustration of the bench.
Bern though did well soon after to force a corner, and from Mannie's expert delivery skipper Goodman got across the front man to flick a superb header into the net for the equaliser.
Lions had the bit between their teeth, but their failure to convert their chances in this period of dominance was to prove oh so costly.
Hakimi whistled a strike an inch wide and Goodman went even closer with a 20-yard volley that crashed back off the post.
With half time approaching another two gilt-edged opportunities were passed up. A stunning dribble by Mannie saw him leave four defenders in his wake, but as he advanced on the keeper he fluffed his lines, a feat copied by Bern moments later as he tried a chip when sent clear when, once again, a powerful strike across the keeper would surely have reaped dividends.
Langford upped their game again in the second half, the period very even with few clear cut chances. Jordan Davidson in the Lions goal twice saved his side with brave blocks while a Bern volley on the run came was so close to registering.
More good work from Bern though soon did have Lions back ahead, his cross fumbled by the home keeper, Goodman reacting sharply to hook the loose ball home from close range.
Lions though were only able to hang on for five minutes. Losing possession on the attack Langford broke with a long ball forward. Judah failed to win the ball leaving the home forward bearing down on goal. Davidson again did well to hold him up with another brave block, but the loose ball was squared and tapped home.
Lions though refused to give up, and in the dying moments created the chance to win it. Great interplay between Stock and Mannie saw the latter release Bern. His driven cross was arrowed into the path of the onrushing Goodman. The winner and his hat-trick seemed assured, but if anything his contact was too pure and he struck the ball back across the gaping goal and wide of the far post.
It's hard to know if that was a point gained or two dropped. Against a strong side Lions can be pleased at the way they dug in, especially in the second half. But the mood in dressing room suggested that, on the balance of the clear cut chances spurned, this was, like last week, a wasted opportunity despite much to be proud of.
Lions Reserves: Jordan Davidson, Ben Lampert, Adam Hakimi, Adam Myeroff, Kyle Bentwood, Laurence Judah, Nick Goodman, Liron Mannie, Matt Stock, Daran Bern, TJ Keterman (sub: Matt Green)