SOUTHERN AMATEUR LEAGUE
SOMERS TOWN 4
MACCABI LONDON LIONS 4
Despite the scoreline implying this was the equivalent of a playground kickabout, nothing could be further from the truth in a contest where no quarter was given by either side in a high-paced, high-quality match between two well-matched sides.
That Lions, in the concession of two very late goals, left the field disappointed shows how far the group has come on their short journey to date.
The visitors held a clear physical advantage, but it was the hosts that started the brightest, some quick and incisive play from Josh Shack and Shaun Levine in midfield saw openings created for Tyler Smith and the supersonic Creese.
The latter had the first clear sight of goal, serving notice of his blistering pace as he latched onto a through ball before rifling goalwards only for the keeper to make a fabulous save.
At the other end, the back four performed admirably, skipper Nathan Anders, with a series of brave, timely blocks and headers, while alongside him Ben Schwarzmann once again impressed with a fine all-round display.
And sharp as ever was keeper Nathan Bloohn, quickly off his line to smother danger when it arose.
Both teams were creating openings with their attacking verve, but a fine Lions move saw them take the lead. Having been denied moments earlier by a smart save, Arnold showed great composure to stroke the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the box after Shack and Creese had combined to find him.
The visitors however had pace all over the park, and their dynamic running saw Lions pegged back, and just after the half hour turned the game on its head with two quick fire goals.
Having made a brilliant goal-saving challenge, Schwarzmann seemed to be impeded as he tried to get to his feet, but the loose ball tucked home and the goal allowed to stand despite protests from the home bench.
But there was little one could do other than applaud the second. Whilst the harsh critic might say the man could have been closed down, the run and strike that found the top corner from 20 yards was of the highest order.
Lions’ energy levels seemed to drop and the basics that they had been working so hard on began to be ignored as the side struggled to retain possession. They continued to create opportunities to draw the side level before the break, but none were taken and they took their half-time oranges a goal down.
Encouraged to get back to what had been working so well, the Lions came out with renewed vigour in the second half. Zac Rose slotted in at centre half while both Aspis and Lazarus at full-back were asked to play that little bit higher.
Suddenly the crisp passing and options were back, Max Misrahi was to have a quite superb half at the base while Levine’s quick feet drove Lions forward.
A brilliant piece of interplay between Creese and Leigh saw the latter played in on goal, but he was denied by another fine save.
On the hour though the deserved equaliser finally came, Arnold again in the right place to tuck home after good work from Misrahi.
Creese’s pace and trickery were causing all sorts of problems, three times balls across goal deserved to be put away. So next time, collecting the ball midway inside the half, he decided to go alone, skipping three challenges, putting a fourth on his backside before rifling an unstoppable strike into the net. A top quality piece of individual play.
And Lions were soon sitting with a two-goal cushion, Leigh’s teasing free-kick could only be parried by the keeper, Shack on hand to bundle home the loose ball.
That should really have been that, Lions’ determination at the back saw Rose and Misrahi snuff out any signs of danger while chances came and went at the other, one fine move saw a great run and cross from Aspis volleyed a foot wide by Arnold.
With the game entering the final five minutes, a sloppy pass across midfield was intercepted, and with Lions out of position the ball was worked across and rifled home.
Lions, however, seemed to be in control, but in the dying seconds, rather than see the game out but in the seconds the referee added on the free-kick was swung in, and in a scramble the ball was prodded home literally on the final whistle.
A Lions spokesman said: “These games are all about performance, and the side turned in another impressive one. Misrahi was outstanding in the centre of the park while Creese showed his unquestionable talent. Obviously there is some disappointment at not seeing the game out, but so much to be positive about.
“The boys look forward to their two remaining games, with a positive result in either enough to earn them a place in the grand final at the Bank of England ground at the end of April.”
LIONS: Nathan Bloohn, Louis Lazarus, Zac Rose, Max Misrahi, Ben Schwarzmann, Nathan Anders, Josh Shack, Shaun Levine, Adam Arnold, Tyler Smith, Dan Creese. Subs: Joe Bellman, George Leigh
SCORERS: Arnold 2, Shack, Creese