SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS RESERVE LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
LONDON COLNEY 1 LONDON LIONS RESERVES 2
Goals from Dean Nyman and George Fierstone guided London Lions Reserves to a battling 2-1 victory over London Colney.
An at times scrappy Lions performance nonetheless yielded three points, although once again a hatful of missed chances almost saw them leave with just a point; a last-minute Fierstone winner relieving their frustrations.
Defending the slope and the breeze in the first half, with the bumpy pitch not helping, it took Lions a while to settle.
Their hosts, hard-working, disciplined and direct, were on the front foot from the off. A failure to retain the ball in midfield and an altogether shaky start from the Lions back four - featuring Myeroff, Bentwood, Hyman and Berg - saw Colney create some openings. But last-ditch challenges from the latter two coupled with Berliner's assured handling saw this early storm weathered.
Lions began to do the simple things, and in doing so started to become a force in the game. Fierstone and Harry Hatchwell began spraying the ball out wide, and one sweet pass from Hatchwell freed Revivo who's excellent cross was somehow volleyed over by Lauffer from close range.
Nyman then set up a chance for Goodman, but his fierce shot was also off target.
Shortly before the interval the game should have swung hugely in Lions' favour. Nyman won a corner that Fierstone whipped in. Hatchwell met it with a goalbound header that was kept out only by the hand of the defender - the referee having no choice but to award the spot kick and send off the offender. Nyman stepped up, but the keeper guessed right and made a fine save, the scores remaining level to the interval.
Reminded to keep things simple Lions did just that, and for 15 minutes were excellent as they penned Colney back. The closest they came to a goal was from one Fierstone free kick that was inches from finding the head of an unmarked Nick Goodman.
The breakthrough finally came though on the hour, and a peach of a goal it was too. Hatchwell and Fierstone linked superbly with a double one-two, the final chipped pass over the defence was sublime, Nyman cushioning a volley into the far corner.
Lions, perhaps thinking the hard work had been done, then relaxed, and although fashioned (and spurned) several openings, were guilty of overplaying.
Their hosts needed no second invitation, and having suddenly had sights of Berliner's goal began to believe they could get back in it. Lauffer was doing all he could to protect a back four that was suddenly under pressure.
Wrestling on the edge of the box saw Lions survive the free kick that was given against them while Berliner saved excellently with an outstretched leg, but with less than 10 to go a Colney player was given time on the edge of the area to shoot, the pace and shape of the shot deceiving Berliner and the hosts were level.
The game, now in the balance, could have gone either way, but what pleased the Lions bench was the way the team dug back in and got back on top. Fine play saw Goodman released, but a great tackle stopped him, before a fierce drive from the Lions skipper was too close to the keeper.
But in the dying moments he won a corner, Bentwood flicked on and, cool as you like, Fierstone took a touch, cut in side and struck the ball into the far corner before finding himself at the bottom of a pile of jubilant players.
Lions visit Kent Athletic next week in the league knowing they'll need to up it somewhat if they're to compete with a side they did the treble over them last term.