Arnold at the double as Lions end Hendon's cup hopes

David Garbacz insists he was to blame after a deadly double from super-sub Adam Arnold put Lions A into the semi-finals of the Cyril Anekstein Cup as they came from two goals down to beat Hendon United.




Lions went into this last eight meeting off the back of a strong league victory against Raiders A the previous week. Managers Ryan Springer and Will Beresford knew nothing less than a fantastic performance would see them advance past Hendon A, who have dropped only two points in the league this season. This was arguably the toughest test yet.

After last week’s heroics, Lions opted for James Gershfield to start in goal, who once again distributed the ball well throughout the match and commanded his penalty box and back four with confidence. But there was nothing that the Lions stopper could do to stop Josh Harris smashing home a powerful, low strike from outside the box, which nestled sweetly into the corner of the net inside the first 20 minutes.


Both sides went at it hammer and tong, but there weren’t too many clear-cut  chances for either side before Hendon extended their lead. On a wet surface, a slip from the Lions centre half led to a golden opportunity for the Moses Seitler who didn’t need much time to confidently bury the ball into the corner of the Lions net.

The first half could have gone differently for Lions; Max Kyte had a half chance and both James Gold and Austin Lipman found themselves missing the target from a few yards out with good opportunities. But it wasn’t to be and Lions went in at half time with a two-goal deficit.

Lions lined up slightly differently in the second half, bringing on Cameron Most at right-back and Jamie Jackson moving into centre midfield from defence, to help give the midfield a greater physical presence. Immediately this half was a different game. Lions were taking the game to Hendon, showing more belief and hunger.

Within a few minutes Lipman was given a chance to make his mark on the game. Standing over a free-kick to the right hand corner of the Hendon box, he whipped a delicious goal bound effort that found its way into the far corner of the net. It might have taken a deflection along the way, but the dubious goals panel will be awarding that one to the Lions star. 2-1, the turning point of the tie.

Ben Lampert alongside Jackson in the middle of the park were beginning to dominate the game, putting in crunching tackles, winning the aerial duel and threading dangerous passes in and behind the Hendon back line and it was’t long before Kyte was put through invitingly, with just the keeper to beat, but the Hendon stopper palmed a ball to his left, but the livewire that is Adam Burchell, raced in from the right and slammed the ball home from a tight angle to level the score at 2-2. Lions belief and desire couldn’t have been any higher after this goal, which was a testament to how the team had battled back from being two goals behind.

The hard graft wasn’t over yet and with Lions back four of Most, Alex Taylor, Ben Goldberg and Beresford halting the Hendon front line from creating dangerous chances, it was left to Lions talisman, Adam Arnold to step up and take the game to the opposition.

More tenacious work in central midfield led to Arnold beating the offside trap and finding himself one on one with the Hendon keeper. Showing good composure, he showed the keeper one way and side footed the ball the other way, into the left hand corner for 3-2 Lions. There were scenes of jubilation among the Lions players but there were still 15 minutes left and lots of hard work to put in.

Soon after the third, Jackson expertly picked out a Burchell run down the right channel, cutting open the full back and centre half, before unleashing a wicked ball across the box which was met by Arnold who swiftly glanced the ball into the goal to make it 4-2 Lions.

With a two-goal cushion, it was now up to Lions to see the game out professionally; substitutions were made wisely, with Harry Marlow coming on and threatening the Hendon defence down the right, James Gold was rolled back on to add some grit and determination and Max Hassell made what was the tackle of Lions’ season, with a valiant last-ditch slide to stop Hendon from scoring a golden chance from six yards out. That tackle alone gave his team-mates the lift they needed last to see out the game and through to the next round of the cup.

A great cup tie that lived up to its expectations; had tremendous amounts of technical ability on show, from both sides, but, in the eyes of the Lions management, "more so the desire, commitment and belief shown from all of the Lions players to come back against an extremely talented Hendon side, was what impressed those on the sidelines the most today".

Disappointed Hendon boss David Garbacz told JC Sport: "This was the ultimate game of two halves. For 45 minutes we were absolutely superb, scored two great goals, were defending confidently and looked in total control. They then pulled one back early in the second half via a deflected free kick and from that moment on we self destructed, giving away three further very sloppy goals and we looked like a totally different team.

"I accept full responsibility myself for the defeat – we should have shored things up earlier once we looked like we were losing the momentum, but instead we were far too gung ho and were chasing the game unnecessarily. Even at 4-2 down though in the last 10 minutes we must have missed three total sitters and if one of those had gone in I'm sure we’d have managed to equalise late on but unfortunately it was not to be.

"Ultimately though, we came away full of regrets and out of both competitions and without a final to look forward to in either cup for the first time in years.

"Lions were always going to put out a strong team – I have no complaints about that at all and we expected it, but we were easily good enough to beat them if we would have been just a bit more savvy when things started to go wrong. Slowly but surely their big guns like Max Kyte and Adam Arnold took control.

"We will have learnt harsh lessons from this and we know we need to be much stronger mentally in games when the pendulum starts to swing.

"This defeat has knocked us badly and we now need to pick ourselves up and make sure we go again hard for the rest of the league campaign.

"There is still plenty to play for on that front but for a few days we will be licking some severe wounds."

LIONS: James Gershfield, Alex Taylor, Will Beresford, Ben Goldberg, Jamie Jackson, Ben Lampert, Sam Arghebant, Austin Lipman, Max Kyte, James Gold, Adam Burchell. Subs: Adam Arnold, Harry Marlow, Max Hassell, Cameron Most

SCORERS: Lipman, Burchell, Arnold (2)

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