Victorious Lions bow out in defeat

SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
LONDON LIONS 0 KINGS LANGLEY 1

London Lions signed off a truly magnificent and memorable season with a 1-0 home defeat against Kings Langley.

The day was somewhat spoilt by the man in the middle who seemed more concerned about himself than the occasion, but with the league already in the bag Lions didn't want the day to be remembered for his performance.

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It would be fair to say that Lions were well below their best but following 14 games in 21 days - with 12 wins and two draws - the home side were entitled to an off day.

With a 16-man squad available, Lions named a strong starting 11, missing only Andy Glynne, Guy Helman and Aron Barnes.

However, after 15 minutes it was clear this game was just one too many in what has been a ridiculous fixture pile-up in the last four weeks.

Neither side created much to write home about in the first 45 minutes. The visitors, at times, competed over-zealously, often leaving a foot in or arriving late in tackles, yet Lions were the only team that received bookings and a harsh red card which was completely unnecessary following Jake Gottlieb's dismissal.

Josh Kennet had Lions's best chance of the half but his rasping shot grazed the cross bar and flew out of play.

Mario Cenolli did everything to keep Lions in the game with a string of excellent saves and it is no surprise that his 18 clean sheets have contributed massively to Lions winning the league.

Sadly the second half was all about the referee and in what should have been a great occasion for the players and everyone watching became one big irritation as the game descended into farce.

This was all confirmed when Kings Langley were awarded a goal following a tap-in when Lions had stopped after the ball had gone out of play. However, the linesman, who was at least 10 yards behind play, insisted it hadn't. Even the Kings Langley players were embarrassed by what was clearly a terrible decision.

The season had finally caught up with the Lions as the players looked shattered but it was all irrelevant once the final whistle was blown.

London Lions were finally crowned Spartan South Midlands Division One Champions and April 27, 2013 will be a day forever etched in the club's history.

A delighted Lions manager Tony Gold summed up his sides exploits: "All credit to the lads, this season was a monumental effort.

"To be promoted is a massive achievement but to go up as champions is fantastic. The players have got to enjoy the moment which I am sure they will and once the euphoria dies down and the reality sets in then and only then will they really appreciate what they have achieved.

"For Steve, Darren and me, we are just so proud of the players. This season they have delivered an incredible commitment to this team and each other. They have shown incredible character on more than one occasion but for me the one defining moment, the moment I believe we won the league was the comeback at Kings Langley when we were 2-0 down with 15 minutes left and ended up winning 4-2.

"This group of players is unique and I am honoured to be a part of them. I wish all of the lads who are representing Great Britain at the Maccabiah in July the very best of luck.

Last updated: 12:08pm, April 30 2013