London Lions reach first round proper of FA Vase

Lions survived a nervy last 10 minutes but held out to deservedly secure a home tie against Essex Senior side Clapton in the first round proper of the FA Vase in front of a record crowd at a wet and windy Rowley Lane.




A scrappy opening half hour saw both sides work hard without really creating, lots of long balls leading to nothing, with both seemingly not wanting to make any errors.

But the outlet of Adam Burchell always seemed the most likely; twice he skipped over vain attempts to hack him down but on neither occasion was his final pass quite able to find Lipman.

The hosts broke the deadlock with 26 minutes on the clock. Burchell again testing the visitors, winning the side a corner. Charlie Rubin swung it in on the wind, Ellis challenged the centre half, the loose ball squeezing out to an unmarked Sam Hamerton, the 17-year-old firing home through the bodies from eight yards to give Lions the lead.

The goal seemed to fire Victoria, and a series of long-throws and crosses saw them fashion openings of their own, but a combination of poor decisions, off target shooting and brave Lions defending saw the 1-0 lead in tact at the break.

Despite having the wind at their backs Victoria were unable to mount the expected early second half onslaught, and rather it was Lions, with the guile of Austin Lipman and Charlie Kasler combined with the pace of Burchell that looked by far the more threatening. And so it was thoroughly deserved when the lead was doubled just past the hour mark, although it owed a huge slice to good fortune. Hamerton found space on the break down the right, his early cross aiming for Lipman was spectacularly sliced past his own keeper from the edge of the box by the unfortunate Vics skipper.

To their credit the visiting bench gambled, removing their left-back and pushing one extra forward. They pumped numerous balls forward, but Jon Ellis and Nick Landesberg both stood up to the physical challenge expertly.

The extra space at the other end should really have led to more goals, each time Lions won a defensive challenge they seemingly were up the other end in a flash that ended with a shot at goal.

Whilst Lions might be critical of their finishing, credit must go to a quite brilliant performance from the Vics keeper who saved time and again to deny Lipman, Burchell, Kasler and youngster Jack Mattey twice. Kasler saw one come back off the post too … but with just the two-goal margin the visitors served notice that they weren’t done, an absolute fizzer from 35 yards smashing back off the bar with Dan Lipman a spectator.

With 10 minutes left Victoria won a free-kick on the right, the delivery this time they got right with the ball finding its way into the net via the faintest of touches.  2-1. Cue grandstand finish!

With the clock about to tick to the 90th minute the chance they’d been waiting for. Bursting away down their right they were in on goal, the forward for some reason chose to square to two unmarked team-mates rather than shoot himself, Landesberg though slid in from nowhere to poke the ball behind for a corner for what proved to be a match-winning tackle.

From the corner itself the ball bounced about, the eventual shot skimming the top of the bar with Lions hearts in mouths.

Deep into stoppage-time one last long ball was headed away yet again by Landesberg, this time on the break Lipman held off his man, dummied the keeper and rolled the ball home.

The game barely restarted – Lions were through.

LIONS: Dan Lipman, Jon Ellis, Nick Landesberg, Adam Harvey, Charlie Rubin, Jake Furman, Tyler Smith, Austin Lipman, Charlie Kasler, Adam Burchell. Subs: Josh Shack, Jack Mattey, Ben Goldberg, 

SCORERS: Hamerton, own goal, Lipman

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