SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION
LONDON LIONS 2 LEVERSTOCK GREEN 1
The Lions slept well on Saturday night after recording their first victory of 2014, with a 2-1 victory at home to Leverstock Green at a sunny Hemel Hempstead home ground.
After a quiet first half, with both teams battling to establish the ascendancy, the game exploded into life in the second period. In the 65th minute Guy Morris broke out of defence and played a superb through-ball in the inside left channel for James Gershfield to run on to; Gershfield outpaced the Leverstock defence and cut into the box, only to be felled by the opposition goalkeeper as he pulled the ball back into the danger area.
The Lions have not always had decisions go their way in this challenging season, but this time the referee pointed to the spot and Gershfield got up to calmly stroke the ball home.
The lead did not last long however, as on 68 minutes a Leverstock Green corner was only half cleared and the ball feel to their centre half who smashed in an equaliser.
Leverstock piled on the pressure and goalkeeper Dan Lee was called on to produce two fine saves.
It is a mark of the increasing maturity and determination of the Lions team that they were able to bounce back and find a winning goal. On 75 minutes Will Beresford, advancing from left-back, sent in a teasing cross and Harry Hatchwell ghosted in at the back post to volley the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The Lions sent on Adam Lipman to replace Sam Shooter and reverted to a tighter formation to help withstand Leverstock’s determined efforts to find another equaliser. Their rearguard held strong, with the returning Jon Ellis providing a sturdy barrier in defence, full-back Brad Lander snuffing out the danger on the right and David Soutar acting as a forceful shield in front of the defence alongside the tireless Ricky Engleman and James Belchak. Frank Hyman replaced the exhausted Gershfield for the last five minutes and the Lions saw out the game. It was a tight fit, but the Lions secured a precious victory.
Captain Guy Morris said: "It just shows what you can achieve when you stick to your task and keep the belief."