SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
CODICOTE 2 LONDON LIONS 3
London Lions finally earned the win they have been striving for following six draws and two defeats in their last eight games.
It was a win truly deserved and more impressive as Lions came back from being two goals down at half-time. A scintillating second 45-minute display, against a workmanlike side on an extremely difficult pitch made the three points even sweeter.
In the last few months Lions have been threatening to produce some excellent results, but like with most teams at the wrong end of the table, sometimes the footballing gods have gone against them.
After 10 minutes on Saturday against Codicote, who were sixth in the table before kick-off, it looked like those circumstances were about to repeat themselves. Lions conceded two poor goals from their point of view and it looked like the writing was on the wall for another difficult afternoon.
How apt then on Grand National day that the winner should be Many Clouds, because in Lions case this was an afternoon for their silver lining. The pitch put paid to either team attempting to play football, so 98 per cent of the game was played in the air and over the top with both teams looking to exploit the set-pieces.
Codicote adjusted to the conditions far better in the early exchanges. The visitors were unable to get any real foothold in the game. Apart from two sloppy goals being conceded, Lions back four actually did well. Kyle Bentwood and Nick Landesberg in the heart of the defence were immense aptly supported by Charlie Rubin and Adam Lipman in full-back areas.
Lions made some tactical adjustments at the interval, with one enforced change following a groin injury to Andy Glynne with Zac Rose coming on and moving to right-back and Lipman slotting into midfield. Jamie Nagioff, who spent the first 45 minutes up front alongside David Soutar, moved into left-back allowing Rubin the freedom to play higher down the left.
Lions came out all guns blazing and showed how much they have grown in recent months. Rubin excelled down the left, causing endless problems for the home defence. The pressure eventually told as Soutar crashed home a bullet header following a corner from Charlie Kasler.
With the momentum and impetus firmly in Lions's court, they were level eight minutes later. With the ball lofted into the home side's box, Rubin reacted quickest to the ball in the air and with the keeper caught off his line, has somehow managed to perform a backward header which took the ball into the empty net.
With 20 minutes remaining there only looked like one winner and Kasler ensured Lions would leave Gosling with all three points, following a tidy finish having been put clear by a Soutar pass.
In the end Codicote could have no complaints, Lions stuck to their task, worked incredibly hard on a testing pitch and finally got what their last several performances deserved, three very valuable points.
Proud Lions boss Tony Gold said: "Collectively, to a man, this was a real team effort. The win was fully deserved and it was an extremely pleasing three points.
"It took us a while to adapt to the pitch which form a footballing point of view was unplayable. The pitches in our last three games have done us no favours, and yes it's the same for both sides, but for a footballing side like us who want to play and get the ball down it's very frustrating.
"Every team we play against seem to adopt the same tactics or approach the game in the same manner and neither involves much football, so our mindset has to change and we have to learn to apapt and be comfortable with that.
"In the last month we have seen the signs and today it showed, especially with the younger players who are starting to show they can mix it and now win ugly."
LIONS: Mario Cenolli, Kyle Bentwood, Tony Gold, Nick Landesberg, Charlie Rubin, Adam Lipman, Andy Glynne (sub: Zac Rose), Charlie Kasler, Rafi Soccairello, Jamie Nagioff (sub: James Belchak), David Soutar
MAN-OF-THE-MATCH: Nick Landesberg