Two goals from Lee Bibring helped the Lions earn one of the results of the day as they overpowered defending champions Neasden at The Hive. Further efforts from Jordan Marks, James Stanley and Ben Joseph completed the rout.
On a cold December morning, the two most successful clubs in Jewish football over the last decade took to the pitch to once again do battle in a fixture that has produced some of the best and most intense football seen in the MSFL in recent memory.
By the end of the game the scoreline suggested that it had been a stroll for Lions but this wasn’t the case in the first half. Nesden started the brighter of the two sides with Rob Lerner and Vienna-bound James Gershfield linking up very well giving the Lions centre back pairing of Oli Leslie and Pete Lazard plenty to think about, but on the narrow pitch space was very tight and chances were few and far between.
The first shot on goal came as Ben Joseph found himself in space down the right hand side, jinked past a couple of Neasden defenders before flashing a low drive across the face of Max Shields’ goal.
On the 35th minute the most controversial moment of the game arrived when Mike Elvey was adjudged to have handled the ball just outside his area. With two defenders running in behind Elvey, the referee showed a relieved Elvey a yellow card much to the discontent of the Neasden players. Jake Gottlieb sent the resulting free kick over the bar in what turned out to be Neasden’s best chance of the half.
The first goal came on the stroke of half time and it was a moment of outstanding individuality that brought it. Receiving the ball from James Stanley on the right hand side 40 yards out from goal, Lee Bibring’s first touch took him beyond the tackle of the Neasden captain Jon Ellis. Spotting the keeper of his line Bibring drilled a shot that flew in to the opposite corner from 35 yards. Shield’s barely moved, neither did Bibring, his celebration reminiscent of Eric Cantona’s after his wonderful chip against Sunderland.
Going in at the break a goal up seemed to spur on the Lions whilst the dejection in the Neasden boys was clear. Ben Ellis, also recently named in the Maccabiah squad, was brought on to provide a greater goal threat for Neasden.
Soon after the restart, a series of 1-2’s between Bibring and Joseph down the left hand side left Joseph with the ball inside the area. Shaping to shoot into the far corner, Joseph then dropped his shoulder leaving Neasden’s Elliot Stern for dead, his quick feet saw him round Sammy Ross before calmly slotting the ball between Shield’s legs to send the Lions players and fans alike in rapture.
Neasden were now starting to lose their shape in the middle of the park as they began to throw more men forwards to chase the game. The Lions back four of Colman, Leslie, Lazard and Morris with the assured presence of Elvey behind them stood up to the test.
With 60 minutes on the clock, a shanked clearance from a Lions corner found the ball flying 8ft through the air across the six-yard box. Eighteen-year-old Jordan Marks, making his debut for the Lions A team, powered his in front of his marker and leapt like a salmon to head the ball across Shields to put Lions 3–0 up. Marks was brought off soon after to great applause from teamates and fans.
With Neasden confidence shot, the Lions could sense a mauling, good work from Jon Green found Bibring inside the area and he managed to get ball out his feet and open his body before curling a shot inside the far post to put the Lions 4–0 up.
Soon after a quick free kick on the egde of the Neasden area fell to James Stanley who managed to slide in and still strike the ball with his left foot into the corner of the net for his second goal in as many games.
Neasden almost managed to put a dent in the victory when Lerner exquisitely brought a ball down on his thigh before unleashing a dipping volley that looked destined to dip under Elvey’s bar. Scrambling backwards, the Lions keeper managed to leap and throw out a strong fist pushing the ball over the bar for a corner. If Paul Merson was commentating he would have called it a worldy.
When the final whistle finally blew Lions had recorded a league double over their great rivals with their biggest victory over them since the 6-1 thrashing in 2007.
Lions manager Eilon Kennet told JC Sport: "With almost a full squad to choose from, its no coincidence that this was probably our best performance this season.
"If we can finally stay injury free and with more or less a full squad to select from, we can hopefully, finally kick start our season.
"Obviously, the boys are always very motivated against Neasden and so my work in these games is already half done.
"My primary role is to ensure that we stay true to our footballing style. I think that because of the way we like to play, opponents sometimes underestimate the hard work it takes to make sure we get on the ball.
"We get lots of comments from opponents about the game-plan they had against us and so on, but the truth is that we have so much quality in this team, no-one can stop us when we are on form.
"The boys are still buzzing and celebrating, but one swallow does not a summer make and we need to do it all over again on Sunday or it counts for nothing. The difference this week, is that we can't wait for Sunday to come around soon enough."
Ben Joseph, one of Lions' goal-scoring heroes, told JC Sport: "A special mention must go to Eilon and Ricky Kennet, on behalf of all the boys who represent Lions A. During what has been a tough season with continuous injuries, losing Louis Basger and now Mike Pearson, those two have shown unbelievable passion, desire and love for this team - oh and "masterminded" a 5-0 demolition over our arch rivals."
Jamie Cole, the Neasden manager, told JC Sport: “We had a good first half and were unlucky to come in 1-0 down. Nothing went for us in the second half and it was a poor display.
“We will have to put this behind us and move on, and learn from our mistakes.
“The keeper should have gone in the second half for a blatant handball outside the area. I felt that the ref bottled it.”