Lions make flying start
London Lions got the new season under way with a firm and tidy performance to beat Sandridge Rovers 3-1 in the Herts Senior County League Premier Division.
Victory came courtesy of goals from Guy Morris, Adam Stolerman and debutant Daniel Levenfiche for last season's runners-up.
Defender Guy Morris registered Lions first goal of the brand new season as Tony Gold’s men ensured a scoreline which reflected their superiority.
But they had to be patient and persistent to unlock a Sandridge rearguard which looked especially solid in a eventful first half.
This was the first league meeting between these two sides since Lions were defeated at Sandridge 2-0 last March.
Manager Gold has spoken of his desire to find some new heroes to match the likes of flamboyant Ben Lauffer, Lee Cash and Ben Lampert who was last season’s player of the year, and by recruiting Daniel Stanton, Daniel Levenfiche, Danny Berg and Aron Barnes, he might just have managed it.
The Lions faithful will also be hoping Stolerman can repeat his 30-goal salvo from last season – after he notched his first and Lions second of the season.
Lions had the vast majority of possession, chances and set-pieces against a Sandridge side who from the kick-off, looked like they’d come for a point.
With the visitors defending stoutly with two banks of four, Lions still created some decent first-half chances, but found the Sandridge keeper in fine fettle.
The visiting keeper's best save denied the hard-working Cash, after six minutes, before defender Morris broke the deadlock. Lions, for whom Stanton shone in midfield, came close on 28 minutes but again was denied.
With the game closer then it should have been Lions needed to find that crucial second and who better then to produce the goods but that man Stolerman. Calm and composed he finished beautifully turning to his peers and standing in a stance very similar to that of ex-boxing champ Chris Eubank waiting for congratulations.
Lions lead was reduced 10 minutes from time when slack marking at a set piece allowed Sandridge a way back in.
With the home side unable to clear their lines Sandridge pounced to poke the ball home from close range.
Sandridge’s only previous effort on target had been after 33 minutes, when they shot over from 20 yards.
So it was tough to concede seeing as Lions were in complete control, but credit Gold’s men for sticking to their task.
Goal number three finally and deservedly came in the 89th minute, when substitute Levenfiche turned in his first goal for Lions after great work from man-of-the-match Cash.
As well as enjoying the victory, Lions fans in a 58 crowd (15 from Sandridge) also got a chance to see Danny Cole back from his holidays and he showed some class by signing autographs in the main stand for all his young fans.
Gold hailed the 3-1 win over Sandridge but the boss then added the victory will count for nothing if his side don’t follow up with another three-point haul against Met Police back at Rowley Lane on Thursday.
Gold said: “I’m delighted with the winning start. It is always nice to win your first game of any season. We played good controlled football in the first half and had a real urgency about us. The second half wasn't as good but we tired physically and mentally and given we are still three weeks behind most teams in terms of individual fitness. Overall, there are plenty of positives to take from the game which gives us a decent platform to build from."
On Stolerman, Gold said: “He knows where the goal is and this season there is no reason why he can’t match or better the exploits of last year.
“The best thing is he’ll have some real competition this year with Cashy and Levenfiche capable of pushing him all the way due to a tremendous work ethic.”
Lions: Matt Davis, Aron Barnes, Guy Morris, Adam Myeroff, Rob Glass, Ben Lampert (sub: Daniel Levenfiche), Danny Berg, Daniel Stanton (sub: Ben Graham), Lee Cash, Adam Stolerman (sub: Andy Glynne). Subs not used: Adam Lauffer, Daniel Castle