Lions edge past Thornes
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Played in blustery conditions at Rowley Lane, London Maccabi Lions Masters faced the familiar opposition of Glenthorne Masters in the first round of the LFA Veterans Cup.
Both teams fielded stronger sides to that which contested last weeks league game (which the Lions won convincingly 5 -2) and it was the home side that started the better, controlling the earlier stages of the game with Warren Leader and Craig Henry out muscling Glenthrone's Sid Shaw and Paul Van Gelder with Ed Zneimer and Adam Lee also getting the better of their opposing players.
Within ten minutes a long diagonal ball from Tony Gold on the right hand side found Lee out wide on the left, his low cross was met by Danny Reuben and the Lions forward side footed into the open net, however this effort was adjudged to be offside and the goal was disallowed by the referee. However Lions were now buzzing and within a few minutes were 1 - 0 up. Leader won a 50 - 50 challenge and the ball broke to Reuben just outside the box, he eluded a tackle from the excellent ex - Wingate star Adam Hart and chipped the on - rushing keeper into the bottom left hand corner of the net.
Lions at this stage should have turned the screw and added more goals to their tally, but a combination of poor passing, failure to take chances and poor final balls gave Glenthorne renewed confidence. However Lions' experienced back four of Jon Steinberg, David Kyte, Andy Landesberg and Peter "Pan" Lazard were looking fairly comfortable, containing Jon Bolle and livewire Adam Lennard.
On 35 minutes, a long throughball from the away side's Shaw put in the quickest player on the pitch Elliot Mullish, he beat Steinberg for pace and finished well into the right corner past the diving Robbie Sharp tp draw the sides level at 1 -1.
The wind picked up and the pace slowed down - the teams went into the break level. Lions had dominated most of the half, but had not finished the game off and allowed the visitors back in it. Adam Lee reorganised the home side with Paul Buxton replacing Ed Zneimer on the right hand side of midfield and himself swapping positions with Gold.
The second half got under way with both teams fashioning chances, but not taking them, until the 65th minute when Lee won an aerial challenge, the ball fell to his strike partner Reuben who played a first time through ball to Gold who took the ball on a twenty yard run, beating the defending right back, rounding the keeper and slotting coolly into the back of the net to put the home side 2 - 1 up.
The game ebbed and flowed, with the quality diminishing due to the increasingly blustery conditions. Adam Brand and Phil Lewis were introduced to the fold for the home team, giving them fresh legs and a new dynamism.
Again though Lions were in danger of letting the spirited Glenthorne side back in the game, by overplaying in dangerous areas. A slightly under-hit backpass from Steinberg left his keeper Sharpe vulnerable and a foot race between him and the lively Mullish resulted in the pair colliding in the area. The away team had a strong appeal for a penalty, but the referee to the relief of the Lions awarded a goal kick.
Further half chances fell to both sides, but no further goals were scored and it is London Maccabi Lions who find themselves in the hat for the next round.