Lions make Hatfield pay the penalty

London Lions produced arguably their result of the season so far, beating unbeaten Hatfield Town on penalties in the Herts Centenary Cup.


HATFIELD TOWN 2 LONDON LIONS 2 AET (Lions won on penalties)

London Lions produced arguably their result of the season so far, beating unbeaten Hatfield Town on penalties in the Herts Centenary Cup.

The teams were deadlocked at 2-2 after normal time, neither side could find the winning goal in extra-time and the game went to spot-kicks. In sudden death, Hatfield missed, leaving 17-year-old Ben Winters with the responsibility of scoring the winning goal. Calm and composed he dispatched his penalty superbly to put Lions into the next round.

When Lions and Hatfield met earlier in the season in the league Hatfield won a close affair 3-2. This time however Lions had the bit firmly between their teeth and the young inexperienced side applied themselves excellently.

Lions worked relentlessly and applied themselves to the task in hand splendidly. For the first 15 minutes it was Lions well in control of the game. Holding a good line at the back and busy in the middle with Josh Kennet, Andy Glynne, Rafa Soccairello and Benji Weinberger all putting in a shift. Up top Max Kyte and Sam Shooter gave no quarter closing down the opposition at every opportunity.

The only thing missing from that 15-minute period was a goal. Then Lions were hit with a sucker punch, when on a rare attack forward, the hosts launched a hopeful ball into the Lions box, finishing with the referee awarding a penalty for a needless push in the area. Jordan Davidson in the Lions goal did his best to save it but the spot-kick was well dispatched, 1-0 and game on.

Lions didn't let that disappointment distract them from a good start and 10 minutes later they were level. Kyte, who certainly has his eye for goal right now, broke clear down the visitors left, cut in and swept his shot past the on rushing keeper, it was a cool, clinical finish and well deserved equaliser.

Both sides continued to chip away but the half ended 1-1. The second period followed the same pattern as the first. Jon Kurrant and Nicky Landesberg at the heart of the Lions defence never gave an inch and Kyte, Kennet, Weinberg and Shooter continued to probe at the other end.

Hatfield were back in front on 65 minutes. A good break down the right ended with a decent cross and Lions failing to clear their lines far enough, paid the price, as the ball dropped to an unmarked player 12 yards from goal and he smashed the ball home.

Once again Lions dusted themselves down and then seemed to move up another gear. However, as the game drew to a close it looked like being one of those days where it just wasn't to be, when in time added on, Soccairello made a great run into the box and was bundled over leaving the referee no choice but to award the penalty. It was the gift Lions deserved for all their endeavour and Kyte made no mistake placing the spot kick beyond the reach of the Hatfield keeper and taking the game into extra time.

Extra-time was a battle of fitness and desire and both sides had chances to win the game but tired legs, wayward finishing and goalmouth scrambles saw the game needing penalties to decide the result.

Lions scored their first three penalties with Kyte, Shooter and Judah doing the honours. Hatfield missed their third, giving advantage to the visitors, but Landesberg saw his penalty saved evening it up again. Benji Weinberger scored the fifth, as did Hatfield, meaning sudden death. Hatfield then missed which meant Winters had the opportunity of securing a deserved win. Calm and composed the 17-year-old made no mistake and all the hard work and endeavour Lions had shown and given over the 120 minutes paid off.

Lions have now won three on the spin and travel to Bedford on Tuesday night in what is sure to be another stern test.

Lions: Jordan Davidson, Ben Winters, Jon Kurrant, Nicky Landesberg, Laurence Judah, Josh Kennet, Andy Glynne (sub: Tony Gold), Rafa Soccairello, Benji Weinberger, Max Kyte, Sam Shooter

Man-of-the-match: Ben Winters

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