MGBSFL DIVISION ONE
SCRABBLE FC 6 MACCABI LONDON LIONS B 2
Ray Abrahams saluted his Scrabble FC players after they overcame adversity to hand a six-goal mauling to table-toppers Lions B.
The game got off to a fierce start with both teams having chances but it was Scrabble who made the breakthrough on 14 minutes with the goal of the game when Adam Waters cut in from the right to hit a 25 yard pile-driver into the Lions net.
The visitors doubled their lead midway through the half when Josh Pugh fired in a stunning shot which gave the Lions keeper no chance.
Memories of the first encounter were evoked on 30 minutes when Scrabble made it 3-0 - a repeat of the lead they raced into at Rowley Lane earlier in the season but this time there was no coming back from the Lions.
The next goal was always going to be important and it was the Lions who were awarded a route back into the game on 55 minutes when the referee awarded a controversial indirect free-kick to Lions just six yards out and dead centre. With the Scrabble players lined up on the goal line from six yards out the Lions striker hammered the ball home to bring Lions back into the game at 3-1 and thoughts of a comeback like last time were at the back of everybody's mind. Scrabble keeper Ben Law continued to dispute the decision and was then showed the Red Card and sent off for his troubles.
Ten-man Scrabble with right-back Waters taking the keeper's jersey now had their backs to the wall as Lions threw everything at the 10 men.
But manager Abrahams reorganised his side and the 10 men were absolutely outstanding - winning the midfield battle and hitting Lions on the break they took the game to Lions with everything they had.
With Brandon Sassoon marshalling his players at the back and Josh Bharier and Josh Pugh giving their best and most confident displays of the season in midfield, Scrabble broke forward on 60 minutes with Danny Sherman firing in at close range to make it 4-1.
The Scrabble team, already hit by absences and injuries before the game, lost young striker Zac Summerfield on 70 minutes with a head injury and Josh Flax, one of the Scrabble heroes from last season, came off the bench to shore up his side.
Pugh grabbed his second 15 minutes from time after a three-man move and Sherman got his second on 80 minutes to make it 6-1.
Lions got a consolation goal a few minutes from time to stem the rout and the game finished 6-2.
Scrabble manager Ray Abrahams was full of praise for his side after the game and told JC Sport: "We were magnificent today and had 13 heroes who all played their part in this win. But after going 3-0 up as we did at Rowley Lane earlier in the season my boys were determined not to let Lions back in this time.
"When Ben Law was sent off we could have collapsed, but such is the spirit in this squad that we reorganised ourselves and we took the game to Lions. To lose one of the best goalkeepers in the league with 35 minutes left was a huge blow for us but in response we dominated all over the pitch and grew in confidence as the game went on. "Sometimes when you are reduced to 10 men and your backs are to the wall you raise yourself to another level and we did exactly that today. Adam Waters ooked comfortable and could do nothing about their late second goal.
"The players took responsibility for their own game in this one and were determined not to let this game slip. To beat the league leaders and a good side in the manner we did today says a lot for what we have in our locker."
Looking at the title race, Abrahams continued: "The league is wide open now and we are unbeaten in five games so we are on a bit of a run at the moment and reached a level today that we need to stay at.
"We've had such a tough run of games in our first eight league fixtures bu thave still been picking up points in these important games.
"After today's result and last week's against Oakwood B we've put ourselves in a very strong position in the leading pack in the league and we are proud of what we have achieved over the the last two seasons. We've also got an exciting Cup quarter final to look forward to in the New Year.
"Hopefully our injury situation will improve as the weeks go on and we just have to keep going,keep picking up points and see where it will take us."
Lions boss Sam Marchant gave an honest assessment of the game. He told JC Sport: "In my year and a half of managing this side, today is the first time I can safely say we were outclassed.
"The team knew what this game meant for the season ahead, yet the determination and passion was non-existent.
"You can have the greatest footballers in the world, but if they’re not hungry to win, they will always be outfought by their opposition.
"The last couple of months have brought some difficult results for us to take, and we are in a low-patch. It does happen to all teams at times and we just need to crawl our way out of it.
"The December break couldn’t come at a better time for us now and we can rethink our plans going forward. There’s no reason why we still can’t be fighting for promotion come the end of the season but todays result has certainly made that a lot harder to achieve.
"I must say Scrabble were superb today, especially their midfield trio who were up-and-down the pitch the whole game and very hard to deal with."