Lions reserves arrest Met Police
A five-goal second half show helped London Lions Reserves march into the next round of the Herts Intermediate Cup as they overcame Met Police Bushey 6-1.
After a defeat and two draws, the Reserves got back to winning ways against their old rivals, running riot in the second half without reply.
Injuries and work commitments forced the usual five changes to the squad. James Stanley started at right back, Ross Pincus and Ben Joseph returned to midfield alongside Shai Revivo, making his first start of the season, and Cameron Most came in at centre half, having played 90 minutes that morning for Highgate School.
For once Lions were fast out the blocks, Pincus, Joseph and Revivo passing the ball at high tempo with Goodman, running the channels, coming short and working the centre backs hard, at the centre of every attack.
First Green then Revivo created space for themselves down the right but both crosses lacked quality. Pincus fashioned a chance for himself but shot straight at the keeper and Stanley, 30 yards out and coming from deep, struck a tremendous half volley only a couple of feet wide.
Met Police, meanwhile, big and strong through the spine of the team and with plenty of pace out wide, were coming more into the game. particularly looking dangerous from the numerous free kicks Lions were conceding in the last third of the pitch. From one of these, keeper Matt Davis saved well, the ball having gone straight through a defensive wall; another he clawed away at the far post under challenge from two home forwards.
Lions had to reshuffle after 20 minutes as Richard Baum was forced off by a hamstring injury, being replaced by JJ Spiro. Soon after, the home side took the lead, although in bizarre fashion. Lauffer might have cleared but chose to turn the ball back to Davis connected only with fresh air and leaving the home forward with a 'gimme'. To their credit, Lions kept their composure and were level within minutes. Ben Joseph cut inside from the left and shot for goal. His drive was beaten out by the keeper only as far as Dan Green who finished coolly.
1-1 at half time and the players were reminded first to match their opponents physically and then let the football flow. Lee Cash replaced the tiring Revivo and Lions switched to 4-3-3, with Lauffer coming into midfield and Spiro slotting in at left back. The improvement was immediate. Stanley started to exploit space down the right flank. Hyman and Most were dominant in defence, winning every header, breaking up attacks and playing the ball at every opportunity into the feet of Joseph and Pincus. These two, now given the freedom to play further forward by Lauffer's defensive solidity, ran the home midfield ragged.
On the hour, Spiro intercepted a clearance, drove forward and chipped the ball over the advancing defenders. Green, playing off the last man, collected, rounded the keeper and rolled the ball into the empty net to give Lions the lead. Almost from the restart, Met Police worked the ball into space between Hyman and Spiro, the forward shot hard across goal from 15 yards and Davis, diving to his right, got a strong hand to the ball and turned it around the post.
Goodman and Stanley then combined to lay the ball back for Cash, whose cross-shot was deflected home by Pincus from 10 yards for 3-1.
And then the game’s defining moment. Green, struggling with an ankle injury, limped off to be replaced up front by the last remaining substitute. Dan Jacobs bolted onto the pitch and his impact was immediate. First he watched from the halfway line as the impressive Most was caught over the top by a Police midfielder - whether through frustration or exhaustion, a straight red card was the only possible outcome.
He then made the fourth goal, possibly by not getting involved in a neat interchange of passes between Joseph and Pincus, the latter's low cross converted expertly by Goodman. Regrettably, Jacobs is destined not to be fully appreciated in his own lifetime and it was left to Cash to wrap things up with two close range finishes, both times after great work by Pincus.
A final score of 6-1 was reward for a clinical second half display but harsh on the home side who were right in the match for 70 minutes. There were good performances throughout the team with Joseph and Pincus outstanding and also to the referee, John Feenstra, who had an excellent game.