Brave Lions go down fighting

London Lions suffered a 2-0 defeat in their latest match in the Garston Vets League against a strong Bushey Sports Club team.



London Lions suffered a 2-0 defeat in their latest match in the Garston Vets League against a strong Bushey Sports Club team.

Despite playing virtually the entire game with a just 10 men, one of which was a goalkeeper on pitch, those that played came off with nothing other than immense credit as they held out for over an hour and remained in the contest until the last kick off the game against champions Bushey Sports Club.

Already shorn of a host of players through injury or other, losing big players including Hadley Silver, Adam Myeroff and then Danny Sugarman, on the morning of the game, left the Lions what had still looked a decent looking Lions squad arriving at the ground with just 10 men.

They drafted in a late 11th and Matty Kleinman bravely took to the field. But within five minutes an already difficult task began to look impossible. With his first kick, Andy Myers aggravated his thigh, Marc Greene realised his groin injury wasn't fixed and Kleinman limped off. Dan Jacobs came on in goal, George Friend went up top and keeper Brad Lee slotted in at right-back, but this left still only the 10 on the field.

Yet with those watching no doubt expecting a cricket score, those on the pitch had other ideas as they defended incredibly to frustrate their opponents, looking for Tony Gold's pace to hopefully make something out of their rare forays forward.

Dan Piler and Alex Levack were outstanding in the centre of the park, with Craig Pearl giving able support in trying to stem the tide at source. Pete Lazard and Jon Rayner were superb - volleying, blocking and heading anything that came their way, while Craig Henry and Lee gave their all full back ... the biggest compliment that can be paid to the latter is that it was far from obvious that he was a keeper playing outfield for the first time in ages.

Bushey, of course had their chances, but most were from distance, Jacobs though saving, catching and kicking well whenever called upon.

To get to the break at 0-0 was a fabulous effort, but to hold out until past the hour even better. Bushey dominated possession and threw cross after cross into the box as ex-league star Darren Currie saw plenty of the ball, but the Lions wall stood firm, the side even having the odd glimpse of goal that they unfortunately couldn't make the most of.

It was a crushing blow to them therefore when on 65 minutes they finally conceded, long time nemesis Junior Lewis getting his 6'4" frame onto the end of a whipped-in ball to plant a header powerfully home into the bottom corner.

Lions refused to wilt though, Levack running for three players throughout to keep the side going. And his endeavour was almost rewarded when five minutes from time his 30-yard free kick was spilled the keeper, Piler following up seeing his effort blocked, the loose ball scrambled to safety.

Lions pushed as best they could, Friend putting himself about and drawing a number of fouls, but they just couldn't get Gold away in good enough position to snatch an equaliser.

It was rough justice too when in the dying seconds Jacobs played a short free-kick to Levack outside the box, but when his pass was intercepted the goal was vacant, Currie needing no second invitation to lob it in from distance over Lions' stranded keeper.

Lions player-manager Dan Jacobs said: "It's usually hard to take more than the odd positive from defeat but not this time. An outstanding team display did the club proud.

"Every player deserves a 9/10 at worst for putting in an incredible effort, with Rayner, Lazard and Jacobs earning 10's and Levack's non-stop never-say-die attitude comfortably worthy of an 11!"

LIONS: Brad Lee, Andy Myers (sub: Dan Jacobs), Pete Lazard, Jon Rayner, Tony Gold, Craig Pearl, Dan Piler, Alex Levack, Craig Pearl, George Friend

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