Sidle shines on Lions debut

A deadly double from Leor Sidle helped London Lions end a run of five defeats with a 2-2 draw against Stony Stratford Town.



A deadly double from Leor Sidle helped London Lions end a run of five defeats with a 2-2 draw against Stony Stratford Town.

Lions looked to be heading for maximum points, but not for the first time this season, in the dying minutes they had victory snatched from their grasp, conceding a late equaliser from a free-kick.

It may have been a case of two points dropped, but Lions will be grateful for the point and an end to a poor run of results. Many positives came out of the evening, with firstly Sidle scoring two very well-taken goals on his South Midlands debut and two really consistent performances from Lions young guns, Zac Rose and Sam Shooter.

For the 24th time this season, Lions lined up with a different XI following Saturday's 1-0 defeat at home to Southall. Guy Morris, David Soutar, Rafa Soccairello, Sam Shooter, Tony Gold and Lee Cash all returned to the starting line-up.

The game got off to a scrappy start and never really changed for the proceeding 89 minutes. The Hemel pitch has taken a battering following all the bad weather, so any conducive football Lions want to play, has had to be adopted to the condition of the surface.

Both sides huffed and puffed in the early exchanges. Stony relaying on balls over the top for their very pacy front three to run onto and Lions looking to get between full-backs and centre-half in the channels. First blood went to the visitors. A moment of hesitancy in the Lions 18-yard box following a cross from the left, allowed the alert Stony forward to nip in and tuck the ball home.

The setback galvanised Lions and within eight minutes they were level. Charlie Kasler found space and then the vision to release new boy Sidle. Allowing the ball to run across his body, he burst past his covering defender, before dispatching a composed finish past the onrushing keeper.

Lions suffered a blow 20 minutes before half-time as Lee Cash went off injured. The change meant Zac Rose advancing to a higher position on the right side of midfield with Cameron Most coming on and moving into right-back.

Neither side created any further chances as the half came to an end. The game was still very much there for the taking, but Lions new that if they dropped the intensity it was also there to be lost.

Showing great drive and determination Lions chipped away. Rafa Soccairello, Andy Glynne, Zac Rose and the hard-working Sam Shooter were making inroads.

Eventually on 68 minutes Lions persistence paid off as Sidle scored Lions and his second of the evening. Kasler once again the provider, freed Sidle, who on seeing the keeper rush off his line to shut the striker down, had the awareness and presence of mind to loft the ball over him and place it into the gapping goal. On the balance of play it was a lead Lions fully deserved.

Mario Cenolli in the Lions goal who had been a virtual spectator for 70 minutes then pulled off a fine save to keep Lions in front with 15 minutes on the clock.

Sidle had a chance to put daylight between the home side and visitors, but his effort was too close to the keeper and he made an easy save. Glynne went close next but his header failed to find the target before Soccairello missed the chance of the night shooting wide from eight yards.

As the game entered the final minutes Lions were to pay for not killing the game off with those previous chances. A soft free-kick awarded by the linesman and not the referee who was 10 yards away, was driven into the Lions box. Lions failed to react quick enough and allowed the Stony player a free run and header, which resulted in the ball flying past Cenolli.

Lions barely had time to take centre when the referee blew the final whistle. A point gained but the players all felt that it was two points dropped.

Lions boss Tony Gold said: "The most pleasing aspect other than the point was the way in which the group approached the game giving their all for the cause. A fantastic debut from Leor Sidle and some strong performances from 17 and 18 year-olds Zac Rose and Sam Shooter.

"Any point right now is a good point so we will take it. Over the 90 minutes we did enough to win the game, but not for the first time this season, one lapse of concentration in the final moments has cost us.

"Slowly but surely we are moving in the right direction and although we are so close to getting it right we are also so far in many other respects. We will keep plugging away and eventually hope that we get a greater consistency."

LIONS: Mario Cenolli, Tony Gold, David Soutar, Guy Morris, Andy Glynne, Zac Rose, Rafi Soccairello, Sam Shooter, Charlie Kasler, Lee Cash (sub: Cameron Most), Leor Sidle

Scorer: Leor Sidle

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