PETER MORRISON TROPHY ROUND TWO
MACCABI LONDON LIONS MASTERS 4 OAKWOOD A 2
The visitors started strongly, the pace and energy they were able to bring to the game saw them pin Lions back early on. But having ridden the storm, Lions were disappointed in the way they fell behind in the 10th minute, a challenge in the box saw the loose ball drilled home with some aplomb by Daniel Seligman.
Yet the hosts gradually got used to the tempo of the game and slowly began to get a footing in the match. Defensively they looked solid, and with Jon Ellis and Alex Levack getting on top in midfield they began to find themselves able to apply pressure at the top end.
Lee Cash and Saul Conway were a threat, but Oakwood were defending well too, but a late tackle on Dan Stanton gave Lions a free-kick midway inside the half. Levack delivered to perfection and up rose Joel Berg to power home an equaliser.
Lions were on top. Defensively the side were growing in confidence, skipper Rob Glass, Adam Myeroff and Berg dominating to the extent that Tony Gold and Russell Brill were freed somewhat to support further forward. Paul Hakim was introduced and his pace and power gave the side a further attacking dimension, but despite some promising positions another goal wouldn’t come.
But then with the break approaching a loss of possession allowed Toby Levy of Oakwood to deliver another excellent cross, a brave diving header at the far post from Seligman restoring Oakwood’s advantage against the run of play.
Lions tried to respond immediately, winning three corners in succession, but these Oakwood defended well, and when Gold’s curling effort wash clutched by the keeper the whistle went to end the half.
Lions changed their shape a little at the break, and with Stanton now finding space in good areas he was able to link with Cash, Hakim and Conway. One fine ball saw Cash slipped in, the Lions hitman caught on the knee by the keeper's boot, but home appeals for a penalty were turned away by ref Neal Cohen.
The Masters, with Conway a constant threat, continued to press, and deservedly equalised through the impressive Stanton. Fed in by Hakim he held the ball up, using the forward’s run as a decoy to earn himself a yard and poke a lovely finish into the bottom corner.
Sensing the game was there Lions continued to pass the ball, but when Conway clipped a ball inside to Cash no-one sensed what was to follow. He controlled on the move with his chest, his next touch saw him execute a stunning dipping volley with his left foot that from 25 yards simply flew over the flailing arm the keeper to find the back of the net.
The Masters kept the ball well, defensively outstanding to man, the one time Oakwood found space to get a shot away Rob Abrahams in the Lions goal was equal to it, at full-stretch palming the ball to safety.
Paul Lenchner entered the fray, and his presence up top gave Lions a permanent out, and he almost added a goal but just couldn’t react quickly enough when Stanton’s cross-shot came back off the post.
But with five minutes remaining Stanton sealed it, one touch getting the ball out of his feet, a second guiding the ball home. And despite seven minutes of injury time Oakwood failed to really put the Lions goal under any real pressure, the final whistle confirming passage into the next round that few would say they didn’t deserve.
Jubilant Lions boss Dan Jacobs told JC Sport: "The game was, of course, far more physically demanding than we are used to so we are pleased with how we matched up on that side of things.
"And having done so we’ve some prettygood technical players whose quality ultimately proved the difference.
"We set no expectations about winning any game let alone any competition, but the victory allows us to look forward to another chance to test ourselves against the youngsters.”
Oakwood joint-manager Dan Kristall conceded: "This was a bad day at the office for us."
Kristall told JC Sport: "Firstly, may I add that the best team won. I have no complaints with the scoreline. Our squad was stretched missing several key players but Lions used their experience and quality to come through.
"Having taken the lead twice, we didn't manage the game well enough. We gave away poor set-pieces and allowed Lions to play to their strengths.
"I felt as a football match, it hinged on a big decision when we led 2-1. A very poor challenge on Luke which their manager Dan agreed with me after the game could have been a straight red card in addition to a follow-up incident which to be fair to Neal, I don't think he saw. This should also have resulted in a red card.
"This didn't excuse who the better side were on the day but I feel we'd have gone on to win comfortably against 9 or 10 men.
"We will regroup, recover some of the missing players and aim to get back to basics. DC, Adam and I have some big decisions to make ahead of next week's quarter-final.
"We're having a wobble but we have lots to play for and we'll be in contention at the end of the season."
LIONS: Rob Abrahams, Russell Brill, Joel Berg, Adam Myeroff, Rob Glass, Tony Gold, Alex Levack, Jonny Ellis, Daniel Stanton, Lee Cash, Saul Conway. Subs: Paul Hakim, Paul Lenchner
SCORERS: Stanton 2, Berg, Cash
OAKWOOD: Joe Botchin, Harvey Kaye, Alex Lee, Tom Cantor, Lee Warner, Rafi Stone, Kyle Bentwood, Toby Levy, Daniel Seligman, Leor Sidle, David Woolman. Subs: David Cohen, Jonny Quinn, Luke Brookner
SCORERS: Seligman 2