Cash inspires another Neasden win
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HSCL Reserve Division One:
London Lions Res. 3 Buntingford Town Res. 0
Lions reserves improved their recent run of decent results with a sixth win in their last seven outings, but far more important than the win was the return to the high tempo passing game that had been missing in the last few fixtures.
Buntingford arrived on the back of an improved recent run of their own, with the maulings inflicted on them in the earlier part of the season now a distant memory.
After 30 minutes it was easy to see why, as while they offered little as an attacking threat they were hard working in midfield and disciplined in defence, doing all they could to shut Lions down.
However, what was also clear from the off was that the home side were up for this, and the high energy of the outstanding midfield trio of Grossman, Newman and Pincus saw Lions prompting and probing from the off.
Lions were getting plenty of joy, especially down the left where Graham linked up well with the extremely impressive JJ Spiro, making his first start on a rare weekend return from University.
Chances came aplenty, and although one could be critical that they weren't taken, credit must also be paid to the visiting defence and in particular their overworked keeper who, to be honest, single handedly ensured this didn't end in double figures. Pincus, Graham, Lazarus and Cash, starting for the Reserves in place of Ben Ellis due to the 1st Team's early kick off, all had great chances not taken, before two goals in five minutes just before the break gave the scoreline a truer reflection of play.
A brilliant passing move involving Pincus, Grossman and Spiro saw Graham slid in down the left, his fizzed in low cross was turned into his own net by the covering defender, although to be fair Cash was a yard behind him just waiting for the tap in.
The Lions hitman didn't have to wait long though to open his account. Again the speed of Pincus to the ball got Lazarus in front of his man. A slide-rule pass sent Cash away, a drop of the shoulder later and the ball was nestling in the far corner after an unerring finish.
There was still time for Cash to turn provider, but Lazarus having done all the hard work in getting clear somehow missed the far post from barely six yards.
The second half was more of the same - Lions attacking but failing to convert from numerous chances created, although again much of the reason for this was a string of fine saves. Cash though added a second for himself, a goal of great quality, cutting on from the right, beating two men before firing a cracking drive into the far corner.
His hat-trick should have come, but he fired wide twice before crashing one off the crossbar, a feat Lazarus followed up when his 35-yard pile-driver came back off the woodwork.
The skipper made way for Dan Green's return after a month out injured and the teenager's pace was an instant threat.
In fact he could have helped himself to a hat-trick, twice failing to guide the ball on target as he bore down on goal and once rivalling Lazarus' close range miss of the first half.
The only downside of the game came in the closing 10 minutes when Paul Samuels, only just back from so long out, damaged a hamstring that will see him out for a while again.
With all subs used Lions finished again with 10 men, but Hyman continued to command at the back ensuring Berliner effectively had a rare day off in the home goal.
Lions find themselves on the heels of the big boys in this league after this recent run - the big question is can this young side (once again half a dozen under 20) perform like this when they play them. Big question indeed, one they'll get a chance to answer as, after a week off, they host high-flying PSV and Met Police in consecutive weeks, teams who both inflicted defeats on Lions earlier in the season.
Lions Reserves: Danny Berliner, Danny Schindler (sub: Paul Samuels), Bradley Lazarus (sub: Shai Revivo), Frank Hyman, Ross Pincus, Ben Grossman (sub: Dan Green), JJ Spiro, Josh Newman, Lee Cash, David Newman, Ben Graham
Man of the match: Ben Grossman