Kennet guides London Lions into cup quarter-finals


An inspired display from Josh Kennet led London Lions to this superb Herts Centenary Cup victory over a high-flying Cuffley side who in truth had their keeper to thank for keeping things respectable as the hosts threatened to run riot in an excellent second half.

Despite the heavy rain and some surface water, the pitch at Rowley Lane was passed fit and played its part in fast flowing game.

Kennet was on hand to give Lions the lead that their start deserved after great wing play from Lipman.

Cuffley slowly got their way back into the game and they drew level on 20 minutes after Harry Hatchwell failed to close down the Cuffley midfield, the ball was sprayed into the feet of the Cuffley forward who dinked the ball over Josh Tray.

Cuffley at this point got on top in midfield, and although Tray in the Lions goal wasn’t actually forced into any saves, that was mainly thanks to some fine last ditch defending, with Zac Rose and Jon Ellis in particular putting themselves on the line for the cause.

But when they got the ball forward Lions were a constant threat. Cuffley’s no. 1 serving notice of what was to come with a magnificent point-blank save to deny James Gershfield from Kennet’s cross.

Lipman then found space and fired goalwards, the keeper down low to parry the ball to safety before a 3-on-2 break saw Charlie Kasler shoot wide when perhaps there were better options available. The half ended with another Lions foray and another brave save.

Coach’s Steve Grenfell and Darren Yarlett were not satisfied at the interval, but what was said behind closed doors worked a treat as Lions encamped themselves in the Cuffley half almost from the off in this the first half of competitive football played under the new lights.

Kennet was in scintillating form, a quite brilliant run down the left saw him outpace the full back before delivering a peach of a driven cross on the run that Gershfield was an inch away from connecting from.

A curling Kennet shot was palmed away at full stretch, the keeper then spectacularly tipping a Hatchwell flicked header over the bar and then performing even better to turn over a rasping Kasler drive.

As the game entered its final quarter Lions could have been forgiven for thinking this might not be their day, but with Cuffley simply unable to get anything going the pressure finally told.

Lipman and Kasler worked to create a yard of space and this time that was all the latter required as he curled an exquisite finish into the far corner from just inside the box. It needed something special to beat a keeper on this form and this was it.

With their tails now fully up, Lions kept coming, and within a couple of minutes made the tie safe, Kennet bursting past two defenders and flicking the ball as cool as you like over the on-rushing keeper for 3-1.

That’s how it stayed as Lions secured their passage into the quarter-finals, a game they will face next month, although with most ties falling foul of the weather the draw is yet to be made.

Lions coach Darren Yarlett said: "The first half was poor from an organisation point, we created chances but left too many holes in midfield for Cuffley to exploit.

"Some harsh words were said at half-time and to their credit, the lads were fantastic in the second period. The energy, desire and work-rate was tremendous.

"The only criticism was not scoring seven or eight goals after the break, we created so much."

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