ANAGRAM RECORDS TROPHY FINAL
SPRINGFIELD FC 1 LONDON LIONS 3
Andy Landesberg saluted his London Lions squad after they won the Anagram Records Trophy for the first time following a 3-1 victory over Springfield.
Two goals from Max Kyte, who made it an incredible 41 for the season, plus one from Austin Lipman sparked scenes of wild celebration at Letchworth FC as the Lions ran out worthy winners over the Essex Olympian League side.
Missing skipper Josh Kennet, Will Beresford and Josh Pistol, Lions were the victim of a punishing run of games, but showed their strength with a good team performance when it mattered.
The opening exchanges were at a high tempo, but neither side really forced an opening. Lions midfield of Charlie Kasler, Lipman and young Adam Arnold in particular were getting on top when Lions took the lead out of nothing.
Former-Arsenal Under-21 midfielder Lipman whipped in a ball to the far post from 30-yards out, which eluded everyone and nestled in the corner of the net to send the 300-strong crowd into raptures.
Lions looked increasingly confident on the ball but it was Springfield who were then the most threatening team up until the interval.
Lions' 16-year-old goalkeeper Reuben Rabstein belied his age with some excellent handling and one breathtaking save when left one-on-one with the Springfield centre-forward to deny an almost certain equaliser.
The crucial moment came less than 10 minutes into the second half; that man Lipman showed determination and skill in equal measure, winning the ball wide on the left before wriggling into the box only to be tripped as he was about to shoot – the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot for a penalty. The honours were left to Kyte to step up and send the Springfield keeper the wrong way to double Lions lead. The goal was Kyte’s 40th of the season and the first time a Lions first-team player has broken the 40-goal barrier.
Just 10 minutes later, the game was effectively won with the best moment of the game as Springfield pressed to get a much-needed goal, Lions were ruthless on the break. The influential Kasler freed Kyte with perfectly-weighted pass, and Kyte lifted the ball brilliantly over the ‘keeper into the top corner to make it an unassailable 3-0.
Landesberg shored things up, introducing Jake Furman, Adam Lipman and late on Jack Mattey, but the defence was still called into action as the imperious Nick Landesberg, Rubin and Zac Rose alongside skipper Andy Glynne needed to stay alert to protect the clean sheet and any idea of a comeback.
By the time Springfield did eventually find the net the game was already well into stoppage time, and the goal merely served as a consolation.
It was Lions' day – and a significant regional trophy returns to Rowley Lane for the first time – a good reward for the season’s work. They had defeated some good teams on the way to the final, including South Midlands League opposition and Herts County Premier champions, Standon & Puckeridge. Even more impressive was the relative youth of the side Lions fielded today, with two players at just 16 years of age, and the whole side averaging just over 21 years old.
Landesberg said: "This trophy is for teams across the Home Counties and is just one notch below the FA Vase, so it really is the most significant knockout cup the club has ever won.
"The team all played very well today, and this was a great way to end the year and reward for a season of hard work. I am really pleased for the club and all the players."