Lions overcome their toughest test yet
Herts FA Centenary Senior Trophy:
Kings Langley 1 London Lions 2
London Lions produced arguably their best performance of the season so far beating high-flying Kings Langley of the South Midlands Division One 2-1 in the Herts Centenary Cup.
This was a typical old fashioned cup game played at a pulsating pace with Lions and Kings Langley both playing their part in a great game of football.
The Lions squad was some what depleted with Guy Morris and Ben Lampert away, Lee Cash having work commitments and Nick Goodman still injured. Even with those absentees it shows the strength in depth within the Lions camp this year as manager Tony Gold was able to still name a strong squad of 14.
Alex Levack came into midfield alongside Ben Lauffer and Danny Castle with the trio all having exceptional games, especially the latter. Rob Glass moved into centre-half alongside Adam Myeroff and also had an excellent game. Eddie Manson and Adam Lauffer put in their shift at full-back and the front three of Adam Stolerman, Dominique Cheniart and Guy Helman frightened the life out of the home side every time they went on the attack.
The pitch was sticky and heavy and certainly not conducive to the free-flowing football the Lions often like to play. However, they adapted fantastically well and when asked to mix it up did so without question. Kings Langley played one way and played it effectively smashing the ball forward for the two big forwards to run on to and get behind the Lions defence.
Matt Davis in the Lions goal was called into action immediately making a fine save and keeping Lions on the front foot. As both teams continued to probe each other it was clear that the Lions had nothing to fear against a side lying second in the league above and having lost one game all season.
Levack, Lauffer and Castle continued to work overtime in midfield and gradually get a foot hold on the game. Right on cue and deservedly so, Lions took the lead. Adam Lauffer slipped a lovely ball down the line to Helman who raced past his marker playing a one-two with Stolerman. Receiving the ball back in the 18 yard-box, Helman drilled a perfect shot past the keeper and into the goal.
Game on! Responding the way you would expect a higher league side to do, Langley upped their game and hit back with force. The Lions back four still held strong with Myeroff and especially Glass dealing with everything coming their way.
Coming under increasing pressure, Lions finally succumbed to a Langley equaliser all be it from a corner after a lapse in concentration in the six-yard box.
In years gone by Lions would have perhaps crumbled and given up the ghost but this current crop of players is a different entity and the equaliser seemed to spur them on.
It was clear to all watching that the next goal could prove decisive and so it was to prove as Lions put a move together deserving to win any game.
Castle, not known for his flair and football skills, produced a moment of magic that even Ronaldo would have been pleased with.
As the ball was played into him, he opened up his body let the ball run in front of him and placed a delightful chip into the path of Stolerman. In true Stolerman fashion and like so many times this season already he latched onto the pass, showed tremendous composure and lashed the ball home.
The real test was about to unfold in the second half as the question posed was whether or not Lions had the mental strength to hold on to what they had worked so hard for in the first 45 minutes.
The answer was ‘a resounding yes’ and then some as Kings Langley threw everything at the Lions including the kitchen sink and still the away team held firm.
Davis produced two great saves late on to ensure Lions were firmly in the hat for the next round which incidentally is a home tie against Wormley Rovers.
A jubilant Tony Gold said after the game: “The lads really worked hard for that result today and showed tremendous character in getting it.
“A lot of the time words like character, mental strength, desire and belief are over used but not today.
“That was one of the best performances from a Lions side I have seen since my time at the club and it cannot be underestimated.
“We worked exceptionally hard against a team that are second in the league in league above us and who have lost just one game all season, playing some great football on a difficult pitch and I think we thoroughly deserved the win.
“It is now massively important that the players enjoy that victory then come Wednesday night at training forget about it and focus on a very important league game against Mill End on Saturday.”
Lions: Matt Davis, Adam Lauffer, Ben Lauffer, Guy Helman, Eddie Manson, Rob Glass, Alex Levack, Daniel Castle, Dominic Cheniart (sub: Ben Ellis), Adam Stolerman. Sub not used: Sam Reeves, Tony Gold
Man of the match: Daniel Castle (Lions)