Cash rich Neasden bypass the Lions
A hat-trick from last season's JC MSFL Player of Year Lee Cash helped defending champions North-West Neasden A to a comfortable victory over the Cyril Anekstein Cup holders in Arkley.
Cash gave his side a well-deserved lead on 55 minutes when he slotted home after being put through by Matt Stock and sealed the win in stoppage time with a powerful header from an Adam Levine cross.
Ajubilant Cash told JC Sport: "It was important we won the game and we could have had a few more if the finishing had been better. In fairness to them they did not give up, but ability shined through in the end."
Joint Neasden boss Daniel Fox added: "I always thought that once we got the first goal we would go on to score a few more. We wasted far too many chances and the scoreline certainly flattered them. Hopefully this result will send a message to the rest of the league that we are the champions and do not intend to give up our title without a fight."
The visitors began brightly, David Dinkin blazing over on five minutes after a one-two with Tony Gold. And the pair combined with devastating affect eight minutes later, Dinkin turning provider for Gold whose powerful header found the net.
Lions continued to look threatening in the final third and only desperate Neasden defending prevented them moving further ahead following a flowing move involving former Neasden star Max Fieldgrass, David Cohen and Dinkin.
Back came Neasden who sprang to life on 14 minutes, Cash drawing a fine save from Lions' keeper Daniel Pauwen after neat interplay between Danny Daggers, Daniel Stanton and Cash.
The home side were in the ascendancy, Matt Stock shooting straight at Pauwen when well placed and Cash failing to beat the impressive Pauwen having latched on to long ball from centre-back Johnny Ellis.
Ellis himself almost equalised on 22 minutes, his towering header smashing the crossbar after a well worked corner between Stanton and Daggers.
But Neasden continued to press and were back on terms five minutes later when Sammy Ross headed home a pinpoint cross from Jake Gottlieb.
Lions were struggling to keep their opponents at bay and were almost behind straight from the restart, Ellis' shot cleared off the line by a visiting defender.
Cash again went close on the stroke of half-time, but was denied by a wonder save from an overworked Pauwen.
Neasden began the second half as they finished the first, Stock crossing for Ross who headed inches over. But the reprieve was shortlived with Cash bagging his first of the afternoon.
A Fieldgrass own goal from a Gottlieb corner put the hosts further ahead and Ross and Stock both went close before Cash inexplicably shot wide on 63 minutes after being teed up by the lively Stock.
Lions were struggling to get out of their own half, but were handed a lifeline three minutes from time when player-manager Andy Myers rose above his marker to head home a Gold corner.
Neasden substitute Lee Bibring, who signed from Lions in the summer, almost settled matters moments later when he shot wide with just Pauwen to beat.
The Lions came close to a dramatic equaliser when Dinkin sprung the Neasden offside trap and rounded keeper Ed Bloom only for his effort to be cleared off the line by a covering defender.
They were made to pay moments later when Cash completed a well-taken goal.
Lions' player-manager Andy Myers said: "There was nothing really much in the game at times. We have a lot of youngsters and at times they showed they could outplay Neasden. We gave away a couple of silly goals and didn't defend as well as we could in certain areas."
Neasden A: Bloom, Levine, Gotlieb, Ellis, Schindler, Sofier, Daggers (sub: Bibring) Stanton, Ross (sub: Cohen) Stock, Cash, Yarlett
LM Lions A: Pauwen, Rose, Elf, Graham, Astaire, Newman, Cohen, Gold, Fieldgrass, Schwarz, Dinkin, Myers