London Lions reach last 16 of Challenge Cup
CHALLENGE CUP ROUND FOUR
BUCKINGHAM ATHLETIC 2 LONDON LIONS 3 AET
London Lions moved into the 4th round of the Challenge Trophy where they face Colney Heath after a crazy and quite unbelievable night of football.
Lions came away from Buckingham Athletic with a 3-2 victory but that doesn’t even begin to tell the story.
With Mario Cenoill, Aron Barnes, Michael Sacks, Daniel Stanton, Dean Nyman, Matt Stock, Guy Helman, Jake Gottlieb and several other players all unavailable, including assistant-manager Steve Grenfell and coach Darren Yarlett, Lions travelled to the furthest echelons with the vast majority of the Lions contingent taking a minimum of two hours to reach their destination.
With a 7.30pm kick off, by 7.15 Lions had eight players changed and ready to go. By time of kick-off Lions started the game with 10 players, had no warm-up, Ben Ellis flu-ridden and Josh Kennet still five miles away.
The Buckingham pitch was a complete leveller making it virtually impossible for Lions to play their free-flowing football. Ten minutes into the game - as Kennet was getting changed in the dug out - the home side took the lead. Danny Berg got caught in possession which resulted in the stolen ball being dispatched past an exposed Dan Lee in the Lions goal.
Finally the visitors had 11 men of the pitch but the game continued to be sloppy and littered with mistakes by both sides.
The visitors trailed 1-0 at the break but had finally had their warm up, now it was time to step it up and see if they could get back into the game.
Lions did step it up but with the home side getting everyone behind the ball every time Lions broke forward, it made it very difficult to find the decisive opening.
On 65 minutes Andy Glynne was replaced by Adam Hakimi after picking up a slight knock on his knee. Lions continued to drive forward and Buckingham continued to hold strong. As the game entered two minutes of injury time it looked as if Lions were going out of the trophy and were leaving with nothing for their efforts.
How wrong that assumption was. Adam Myeroff managed to keep a loose ball in play which he smashed long. Adam Bolle gave chase like he had all night and out muscling the defender lashed a wicked shot goalwards. The ball ricocheted off the keeper back off Bolle and flew into the goal. Never before has a goal been less celebrated then this, I think the shock of another 30 minutes and the fact that most Lions players weren’t getting home until 1am had something to do with it!
So extra time it was and what an action packed 30 minutes it turned out to be. Sam Sloma, who by now had developed a golf ball underneath his right-eye following an off the ball incident, continued to wind up the Buckingham players and their supporters with his trickery and energy.
Seven minutes in and Lions once again fell behind. This time Myeroff gave away a soft penalty which was nearly saved by Lee in the Lions goal but his outstretched hand just couldn’t quite do enough.
Five minutes later and just before the half drew to a close it was Lions turn to be awarded a spot-kick following a foul in the box on Bolle. Up stepped Rocky Sloma to slam the ball home, 2-2.
After a quick turnaround, and with 15 minutes left before penalties, it was anyone’s guess who was going to win the game. Ben Ellis was virtually dead on his feet having bravely soldiered on for 105 minutes with flu and was replaced by manager Tony Gold.
The game became rather stretched as both teams started to feel the heavy pitch and energy consumed over the course of the game. Both sides had chances to once again take the lead but good goalkeeping, wasteful shooting and a cross bar kept the 2-2 scoreline intact.
As the game entered injury time in extra time and with everyone getting themselves psyched up for penalties, Lions stole the show. Kennet picked up a loose pass from the home side slipped Sloma in down the right and his peach perfect cross was headed home right on cue by the deadly Bolle, sparking crazy celebrations which even saw David Snelman do a ‘Jose Mourinho’ down the touchline.
After a three-and-a-half hour and 120-mile round trip, Lions secured a great midweek win and more importantly a place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Trophy cup where they will host Spartan Premier Division opponents Colney Heath.
Summing up a crazy night, Lions manager Tony Gold said: “That was gorilla football at its best, you couldn’t have made that up tonight. Tonight was a prime example of how NOT to prepare for a game of football and yet we still managed to pull off a great win. I always say if you get yourself mentally right and show the right attitude on a football pitch anything is possible.
“Playing the first 10 minutes with 10 men, with one of those 10 suffering bad flu and facing a journey from hell, the lads showed unbelievable character to come away with a place in the next round and they deserve all the credit."
Lions: Dan Lee, Danny Berg, Adam Myeroff, Guy Morris, David Soutar, Andy Glynne (sub: Adam Hakimi 65), Josh Kennet, Sam Sloma, Adam Bolle, Ben Ellis (sub: Tony Gold 105)
Scorers: Bolle 90, Sloma (pen), Bolle 120
Man-of-the-match: Adam Bolle