The gods were against us, says Gold

Tony Gold cut a frustrated figure after London Lions went down in a five-goal thriller against Arlsey Town in the SSML first division.



Tony Gold cut a frustrated figure after London Lions went down in a five-goal thriller against Arlsey Town in the SSML first division.

The joint-manager believes his Lions were "extremely unfortunate" to leave the Armadillo Stadium with nothing to show for their endeavours.

Lions' undoing wasn't to do with their performance as it was arguably up there with one of the best this season. It was more to do with conceding two avoidable goals and a slice of extreme bad luck which presented Arlesey Town with the winner in stoppage time.

Arlesey Town have a rich history and pedigree in non-league football dating back to 1995 when they beat Oxford City at Wembley to win the prestigious FA Vase. Last year they made the first round of the FA Cup, drawing Coventry City away at the Ricoh Arena, eventually losing 3-0. The first team now ply their trade in the Southern Calor Premier League which is a feeder into the Southern Conference League and have a strong group of players to choose from.

Lions arrived at Arlesey having not kicked a ball in 14 days thanks to the weather putting paid to two games due to waterlogged pitches. In the early exchanges, one would not have been aware of the visitors' inactivity, as they moved the ball with purpose and showed a great collective work ethic keeping the home side on the back foot.

Both sides looked lively in the offensive thirds with Lions front three of Sam Shooter, Josh Kennet and Max Kyte causing endless problems. However it was the midfield trio of Benji Weinberger, Ben Lampert and Andy Glynne who really excelled with all three performing admirably.

Arlesey's main threats were from wide areas whose two livewire wingers looked to get in behind on every occasion, but they were contained well by some fantastic defending from the returning Kyle Bentwood, Cameron Most, Tony Gold and the ever-impressive Jake Rinsler.

Lions' defensive frailties in recent months looked a thing of the past as they continued to hold strong as the first half drew to a close, allowing the visitors that platform to take the lead. A swift pass from Rinsler to Glynne in the middle of the park saw the latter play a terrific defence splitting pass, which allowed the prolific Max Kyte to run onto and score his 11th goal of the season.

As the half was brought to a close by the referee, it was a lead Lions fully deserved for their endeavours and hard work.

The idiom 'Old habits Die Hard' was the moral of the story in the second half, and although Lions continued to work hard and create chances, they were undone by two avoidable goals which could have been prevented by individuals taking responsibility from set pieces and being more disciplined, and a horrible stroke of bad luck which resulted in the home sides winner.

Arlesey levelled on 60 minutes from a corner and then took the lead 10 minutes later from another set-piece. In games gone past that would have been the cue for Lions to feel sorry for themselves and fall apart, but not this time. The team rolled up their sleeves and showed great determination to fight back and eventually draw level 10 minutes from time.

The hard-working Shooter was replaced by debutant Rick Jacobson to add some much needed legs going into the final quarter of the game.

Lions then scored an equaliser that would have graced any game at any level and if Messi, Ronaldo or Suarez would have scored it, the world football fraternity would have been speaking about for a long time. Josh Kennet burst past two players down the home sides left, before cutting inside the full-back and unleashing an exquisite outside of the foot, curling shot, that nestled beautifully into the back of the net.

Lions had chances to win the game in the final 10 minutes, with Glynne, Weinberger and Kyte all going close, but they were unable to find that finishing touch.

As the game moved into injury time, Lions would have been delighted with a point for their afternoon's efforts, that was until they were hit with a terrible piece of bad luck which resulted in Lions leaving with nothing. Having worked their way 20 yards from Lions goal, a speculative shot more out of desperation than anything else from the home side's no. 8, took a wicked deflection off Rinsler's shin sending Cenolli one way and the ball the other, resulting in the ball crossing the Lions goal. It was a harsh blow and highlighted the cruel nature of football that connects itself with teams finding it difficult to turn around their misfortunes.

Gold commented: "We were very good in the first-half, but Arlesey were always a threat and we had to continue to work hard to prevent them getting space.

"In the final 20 minutes tiredness, a lack of match-play and a huge slice of bad luck caught up with us.

"I thought we showed great quality going forward with Max, Josh, Sam and Benji getting into some good areas. But credit to Arlesey, they put us under pressure in the final 20 minutes, certainly physically, and they got that stroke of luck all teams crave to win a close game.

"I wouldn�t say on the balance of play we deserved to lose the game because we certainly deserved something for our efforts, the players gave everything, unfortunately that's football.

"What was most pleasing about today is that the players showed a lot more confidence and certain individuals showed a new level of performance and a reaction that suggests they do have what it takes to play at this level.

"I would add if there are any Jewish footballers out there who have genuine football ability, love their football and would like to test themselves out of their comfort zones at a good, competitive level, give me a call or send me an email, you will be given every opportunity.

"Lions Saturday team has great facilities, great coaching and a great pitch at Hemel Hempstead. All you need is a commitment and good attitude towards the game.

"This is about a new beginning, laying new foundations and starting fresh. It will take time and patience and is achievable, but players need to buy into it and be willing to work hard and commit, the latter is paramount."

LIONS: Mario Cenolli, Jake Rinsler, Kyle Bentwood, Tony Gold, Ben Lampert, Cameron Most, Josh Kennet, Andy Glynne, Max Kyte, Benjamin Weinberger, Sam Shooter (sub: Rick Jacobson)

Lions MOM: Andy Glynne

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