Four-midable Lions Vets maintain perfect start in cup

Richard Baum, Craig Pearl, Paul Lenchner and Lee Cash were the marksmen as Maccabi London Lions maintained their winning streak in the SAL Vets Cup with a hard-fought victory over Albanians.




A much-improved second-half performance saw Lions make it two wins from two in this new cup competition, but they were pushed all the way by Albanians in a really good, competitive game at Rowley Lane.

The hosts started quickly and took an early lead when good play saw Pearl’s initial shot blocked to the edge of the box from where Baum took a touch before arrowing a fine strike into the top corner.

Lions continued to press, but Cash, Baum and Lenchner were all denied by some last-ditch defending. A great move presented the best chance to level, Tony Gold and Baum combined, the latter finding Pearl’s well-timed run. The keeper was out in a flash to make a superb block, the loose ball however came out to Lenchner, but his first time strike whistled just over.

Albanians began to get a footing in the game, Brad Lee showing some fine handling in collecting dangerous balls into the box. David Soutar and Pete Lazard were kept on their toes and did well, but a slip from the former gifted a golden chance, the striker though struck the post with the goal at his mercy.

Lions failed to heed the warning and their play became scrappy. Giving the ball away in bad areas allowed Albanians to break, and two such counters in the space of five minutes turned the game on its head as both were finished with aplomb to give Albanians the lead.

The hosts were jolted into a response, and just before the half ended they levelled. Baum jinked into the box, his initial shot blocked for a corner. The ball was swung in but only partially cleared, the return finding the back of the net off the defenders head under pressure from Lenchner.

Lions came out for the second period with renewed purpose. With Adam Harvey at full-back and Danny Piler calmness personified in the centre, the hosts were the dominant force, Albanians hindered by a couple of injuries that limited their efficiency on the counter.

The visiting keeper was kept busy, excelling with several fine stops to keep his side in the game – Cash, Pearl, Alex Levack and Max Radford all denied. But when Baum found Cash inside left he beat his man and pulled the ball back for Pearl to find the back of the net with the deftest of touches.

Lions then had the chance to make the game safe, but after being upended in the box Cash saw his penalty kick saved by the keeper.

Lenchner and Soutar, ably supported by Jon Rayner and Harvey repeatedly batted away all Albanians attempts to get back in the game, but as long as the fourth goal didn’t arrive the game remained in the balance.

The one chance they had been waiting for did arrive with five minutes left, but Lee was out quickly and bravely to make a crucial save. Lions then went down the other end, Gold’s pace seeing him gallop clear, his fine low cross on the run finding Cash who this time made no mistake.

The final game in the group for Lions takes them to Winchmore Hill. A point in that would secure a semi final berth.

LIONS: Brad Lee, Tony Gold, Adam Harvey, David Soutar, Pete Lazard, Richard Baum, Alex Levack, Craig Pearl, Paul Lenchner, Lee Cash. Subs: Danny Piler, Max Radford

SCORERS: Baum, Lenchner, Pearl, Cash

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