HERTS COUNTY CUP ROUND TWO
MACCABI LONDON LIONS 3 KNEBWORTH 0
The Lions overcame a pretty decent opposition and a most bizarre refereeing performance to eventually secure safe passage into the third round, but Knebworth certainly made them work hard and play well for the privilege.
With this competition allowing just four players aged under 40, and with several away or on the treatment table, Lions took just 12 players to the game.
They started brightly, but took some time to get to grips with the way the game was being officiated, with clear fouls going unpunished yet bookings being dished out to both sides for not retreating at a free-quick or daring to question a decision. When at one point a clear foul was not awarded at one end, the game threatened to descend into farce when the game was stopped and the ball marched up to the other end for a free-kick the other way. But credit the players on both sides for just about keeping their cool and, in fairness, to the referee who changed his approach and with it and handled proceedings expertly in the second period.
In between both sides played their football. Lions were certainly in the ascendancy but it took a smart save with his feet by Lee as well as some timely defending from Andrew Myers, Jon Rayner, Rob Glass and Adam Harvey to ensure parity.
Chances though came for the hosts – one excellent run from Paul Lenchner saw him latch on to a through ball from Hadley Silver on the stretch, and denied only by a super save from the visitor’s keeper. Craig Pearl headed over when well placed and Gideon Barnett saw another effort smothered by the keeper.
Lions upped the tempo in the second period, Myers crashing a brave header off the crossbar. Max Radford and Brad Lazarus both forced good saves from the keeper, and from the second of these Lazarus delivered a deep corner, Myers nodded back across goal and Glass stretched out a leg to poke the ball home and give Lions the lead.
Matt Kleinman’s industry ensured Knebworth remained principally on the back foot and chances came. But the woodwork was in fine form, first denying Radford’s audacious 30-yard chip before deflecting away a thunderbolt from Lazarus.
So at 1-0 the game remained in the balance, and Knebworth missed a glorious chance to equalise when on the break their striker stabbed a volley wide of the upright from six yards.
For that miss they were soon punished, as a fine move gave Lions an overload at the far post. Silver’s pass found Radford with time and space to take a touch and slam home from eight yards and the killer second goal.
Lions were now in control and could have scored more than a late third, Silver releasing Barnett who expertly held off his marker, bursting clear and slotting home with aplomb on the run.
A quarter-final away at Wormley Rovers is the reward for what was overall a decent performance from Lions.