MOLTEN SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS RESERVE DIVISION TWO
Old Bradwell United 1 London Lions 3
Goals from Michael Kenley, Myles Beerman and Ricky Engleman helped a patched up Lions side returned from the second leg of their Milton Keynes trilogy with a hard earned three points, in a game where they also missed two penalties.
With so many regulars missing from both Saturday squads, and the late withdrawal unwell of Harry Franks, Lions relied on the guts and commitment of the few, in particular Ross Pincus, back after six weeks, who gave his all for an hour, Ricky Engleman, who played through the pain barrier, Max Kyte, who made the long late journey to provide cover on the bench, and to veteran Richard Baum, who stepped in at short notice.
Lions were on it right from the off. Dan Lipman's running earning an early corner from which Kenley thumped a header against the bar, the referee not spotting was seemed a clear shove in his back preventing him from nodding in the rebound.
Baum then tricked his way through but couldn't finish before the normally reliable Engleman latched onto Beerman's pass only to screw his shot wide.
Bradwell's always excellent keeper really wasn't being worked, so despite creating a plethora of chances, Lions failed to take the lead in the opening period. The closest they came was via a Lipman curler that hit the inside of the post.
Too often they failed to apply a solid contact on the heavy pitch, grateful therefore that Bradwell failed to take advantage of occasional uncharacteristic lapses in the Lions rearguard, and the teams went into the break on level terms.
The urgency levels rose in the second period, and with Beerman and Engleman having an almost vice-like grip in midfield it was Lions who again threatened from the off.
Pincus was replaced by Kyte just shy of the hour mark, and it was his ball out wide that sent Lipman away. His cross was headed back across goal by Baum and there was young Kenley at the far post to apply the finish.
This gave the young man a real boost of confidence, and for the next 20 minutes his running caused Bradwell all sorts of problems.
One run saw the ball squared to Baum who should have scored, but the rebound saw a foul in the box presenting Engleman with the chance to double the lead from the spot, but he blazed his kick high over the bar.
Thankfully it wasn't to prove critical, and soon after a superb team goal all but sealed the points. Breaking up play on half way Beerman found Baum who brilliantly held the ball up before laying off a return into the onrushing midfield man's path. As he burst forward the ball was laid off to Kenley who returned it via a delicious flick where Beerman's third touch of the move was a neat flick with the outside of the boot that nestled in the back of the net. On such a tricky surface it really was a goal of great quality.
When they won another penalty, this time for a foul on Sheena, Kenley took responsibility, but succeeded only in being the third Lions player in a row to not just miss a penalty but to fail to even hit the target!
Engleman though atoned for his earlier miss, latching onto a through ball to round the keeper and tap home for a goal his performance deserved.
In truth Lions should have added to their goals column - Sheena, Baum, Kenley, Stanley and Engleman all having attempts, but as they poured forward they succeeded only in blotting their defensive copybook when a rare Bradwell break saw a shot that squirmed under Green's body - a shame for the young keeper who'd otherwise shown a safe pair of hands throughout.
A tricky game at New Bradwell next Saturday completes this three week away day stint to Milton Keynes before three games in a row against the league's form sides which will go a long way to determining the success or otherwise of the season.
Lions: Declan Green, Laurence Judah, Frank Hyman, Ross Pincus (sub: Max Kyte), James Stanley, Myles Beerman, Rob Blackman, Richard Baum, Dan Lipman (sub: Andy Sheena), Ricardo Engleman, Michael Kenley
Scorers: Beerman, Kenley, Engleman
Man of the match: Myles Beerman