Gershfield double steers Lions into cup final


London Lions produced a performance of pure grit and determination to beat London Colney 2-1 in the semi-final of the Herts Centenary Trophy.

Having been well beaten on two previous league encounters by their hosts, Lions had a real point to prove.

Manager Tony Gold had for the first time in 10 weeks at his disposal a full 16-man squad to choose from and the difference it made was immense.

Two goals from leading goal scorer James Gershfield and a superb defensive display put Lions in the final against Letchworth on Tuesday week.

The victory meant that the Lions had reached the final of the Herts FA Centenary Trophy for only the second time in their history. The last time they achieved this feat was under the stewardship of Andy Myers where they eventually beat Met Police 4-1 to lift the trophy.

The route has been a tough one with Lions having beaten Sun Postal Sports, Baldock Town, Kings Langley and now London Colney along the way.

It would have been easy to write Lions off given their recent form and the fact that London Colney had beaten them twice with ease already this season, but Lions manager Tony Gold is never one to shy away from battle and with a full squad at his disposal for the first time in months, he finally had the elements to get a result.

The Colney pitch was bumpy and rutted which meant neither side was going to be able to play much football and for the first 15 minutes that proved right with the ball flying backwards and forwards.

Lions had an even greater task defending the slope in the first-half which made life even trickier. However, skipper Guy Morris, Adam Myeroff, Jon Ellis and Aron Barnes led the line tremendously defending with nerves of steel.

Chances were virtually non-existent bar a couple of pot shots and it looked like the only way either team was going to score was through an individual mistake. Low and behold Lions took the lead via a goalkeeping howler and a lot of tenacity shown by Gershfield.

A back-pass from a Colney defender was charged down by Gershfield, the keeper clearly shaken by his sudden appearance rushed to the clear the ball to safety only for it to hit the Lions forward, ricochet off his back and fly into the empty goal.

However, the lead was short lived as referee Gary Bailey awarded the home side a somewhat dubious penalty for hand to ball when it quite clearly looked like ball to hand. The home side were not complaining and were delighted to be handed a route back into the game as the spot kick was rammed home.

It was game on, but where in recent weeks when Lions have gone behind or conceded a soft goal they have some what folded, this time is was a different Lions with a far more intense purpose and they rolled up their sleeves and went again.

With the Lions midfield of Craig Ellis, Ben Lauffer and Daniel Stanton working tirelessly for the cause and the hold up play and direct running of TJ Keterman, Matt Stock and Gershfield, London Colney were finding increasingly more difficult to get any kind of grip on the game.

The home side then fell further behind 10 minutes before half-time. Great work from Stock down the Lions left helped him cut in on an angle as he raced towards goal and shot the keeper made a good save only for Gershfield to pounce on the rebound and bundle home.

Lions’ management team would have been delighted to hold a lead going into the break given that they were also defending the harder end due to the slope.

Neither side managed to carve out any clear-cut opportunities in the second half, although the Lions suffered a late scare when 10 minutes from the end, left back Barnes failed to make contact on a tackle which saw the Colney player burst through and shoot agonisingly wide of the far post.

Lions defended superbly for the remainder of the match. Pure elation was shown at the final whistle with Lions worthy and deserved winners following a true team performance.

Tony Gold, the Lions manager, said “Today was a true reflection of what we are about as a club and a team. The fact of the matter is when we have available the squad that we had today week in and week out, we know we can match and beat any team in our league.

“This has not been reflected in our league form of late because we have had a different 11 out each week and sometimes a lack of quality needed to make a difference.

“London Colney is a well-run club and have a good team. They have players that can hurt you as we had found out to our cost in two league encounters. However, today we were at full strength, bar two long term injuries, and it made a massive difference. Having options to change situations can often.”

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