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Soccairello sends Lions through

London Lions got through to the second round of the Division One Cup for the first time since 2012 thanks to a late Rafi Soccairello strike at Hemel Hempstead on Wednesday evening.

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SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE CUP ROUND ONE
LONDON LIONS 4 AMERSHAM TOWN 3

London Lions got through to the second round of the Division One Cup for the first time since 2012 thanks to a late Rafi Soccairello strike at Hemel Hempstead.

The hosts cruised into a two-goal lead against Amersham Town early in the first-half, but like Saturday were pegged back to 2-2 early in the second-half, before a Josh Kennet wonder strike restored Lions lead and Soccairello made sure. There was still time in added time for Amersham to pull one more goal back but it was too little too late.

If you want goals, entertainment and unpredictability then Lions certainly seems the place to currently watch football. Following an extremely ragged start by Lions, it was the visitors that inexcusably gifted the home side an opener.

The visiting keeper fumbled the ball into the path of the on rushing Max Kyte, who gratefully accepted his third goal of the season.

Amersham Town seemed to work harder and have a little more desire than their hosts, but that didn't stop Lions from adding a second against the run of play. Alex Lee playing in an unfamiliar wide right role, cut in and lashed the ball home.

Lee should have added his second of the night and Lions third on 30 minutes but his shot from six yards smashed against the crossbar and was cleared.

Even with the two-goal set back the visitors always looked likely to score as their forward movement caused the Lions back four trouble all night.

The half ended with Lions having their best period of the game in the final 10 minutes. With Lions very aware that they came out for the second half in exactly the same situation as they did on Saturday, it was worrying to once again see them squander a two goal-lead perhaps down to losing a little focus.

Amersham's first goal was a ball played straight over the top, down the middle with the attacker slotting home against an exposed Jordan Davidson. Their second was one the latter will have nightmares about. Misjudging a long kick, saw the ball bounce over the Lions keeper and straight into the goal.

Nerves started to jangle around Hemel in the knowledge that a third Amersham goal would bring back stark reminders of what happened on Saturday against Harpenden, when Lions threw away another two-goal lead. As a result, the hosts seemed unsure whether to defend or attack and ended up doing neither particularly well.

With 15 minutes left on the clock, man of the match Josh Kennet produced a moment of brilliance to put Lions back in front. Cutting in from the left Kennet unleashed a wicked curling shot from 25 yards that flew past the visiting keeper.

With the clock ticking down relentlessly super-sub Soccairello netted a vital fourth goal after some fine individual play to edge Lions to victory.

In the 95th minute Amersham still found time to score a third, but as the ball nestled in the goal the referee ended a pulsating final 15 minutes by blowing his whistle.

"I never thought we were going out of the competition, Lions joint-manager Andy Landesberg explained after the game. "We have created a bunch of lads that have great spirit and fantastic character and that was evident especially in the last 15 minutes of the second half.

"It was a poor collective performance in the first half, but we still managed to go in at the break two goals up, which is a good sign.

"Second half we were more controlled but conceded two poor goals to allow Amersham a way back into the game.

"The biggest positive of the night was how we finished the game. Lessons were certainly learnt from Saturday. We enjoyed it tonight, we deserved to go through and now we look forward to Saturday."

Lions: Jordan Davidson, Jake Rinsler, Tony Gold (sub: Ben Winters), Adam Myeroff, Adam Hakimi (sub: Rafi Soccairello), Joe Sharpe (sub: Zac Rose), Alex Lee, Andy Glynne, Josh Kennet, Max Kyte, James Belchak,

Scorers: Max Kyte, Alex Lee, Josh Kennet, Rafi Soccairello

Man-of-the-match: Josh Kennet

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