AFA VETS TROPHY SEMI-FINAL
PECKHAM TOWN 2 MACCABI LONDON LIONS 4 (after extra-time)
On a difficult pitch in tricky cold and windy weather, Lions put in a truly first-class battling performance that eventually saw them win through to a place in the prestigious AFA Cup Final following this extra-time win over Peckham Town.
Missing Andy Myers and Guy Morris, a defensive reshuffle saw Paul Lenchner take up a spot alongside Jon Rayner at the heart of the back line where the pair, ably assisted by the evergreen Pete Lazard and Dan Piler, had simply outstanding games. And in front of them, while they’ll receive few of the plaudits, the tireless work of Matt Kleinman and Craig Pearl ensured that Peckham’s excellent midfield and front man were made to earn every opening they were to fashion.
The heavy pitch made pretty football a thing to forget, but Lions will be pleased at how they adapted and, when they did find time on the ball, played enough good stuff to show they could be a threat, Mark Wagman and Tony Gold both denied by the safe handling of the home keeper, while Baum poked an effort just wide.
At the other end, the power and pace of the Peckham no. 9 asked questions, but barring one shot that he tipped over and another that he blocked with his feet, Brad Lee in the Lions goal was expertly protected.
The visitors opened the scoring after 30 minutes when Silver played in Mark Wagman whose goalbound strike was blocked by the arm of the defender, the referee had no doubt in pointing to the spot where Silver took responsibility and fired home.
And this lead they kept until literally the last kick of the half when a quickly taken free-kick caught Lions out, the drive deflected in from close range to see the sides go in level at the break.
The battle continued into the second period, Max Radford was upended crudely but the free-kick came to nothing. Danny Sugarman came close, and Pearl closer as his shot on the run went just wide. At the other end, though, it took a quite magnificent challenge from Lazard to stop a certain goal.
With neither team able to score a decisive winner we went into extra-time. A great run from Pearl saw him latch onto Baum’s flicked pass before he was tripped, again the simplest decision for the referee to award the spot-kick and again Silver was the calmest man about town as he fired home.
Again, however, the lead didn’t last too long as at the start of the second period of extra-time the Peckham forward executed a perfect lob over the stranded Lee to restore parity.
Did Lions have anything left in the tank? They sure did. As they broke away the ball was played into Wagman who held it up superbly before laying off into the path of Baum who first time rolled the ball coolly into the far corner.
Leading 3-2, with 10 minutes to hold on, Lions threw everything in the way, the referee adding what seemed an eternity, but when another quick break ended with Wagman smashing home from close range the result and a space in the final were secured.
LIONS: Brad Lee, Pete Lazard, Dan Piler, Matt Kleinman, Paul Lenchner, Jon Rayner, Craig Pearl, Richard Baum, Mark Wagman, Hadley Silver, Tony Gold. Subs: Danny Sugarman, Max Radford
SCORERS: Silver 2, Wagman, Baum