|Date||14th April 2019|
|Competition||Garston Vets League|
|Kick-off Time||10:30 am|
|Result||Won 2 ‐ 0|
After 13 years of trying, and having come so close in the last two seasons, Sunday finally saw Dan Jacobs’ Masters 35+ side win the Garston Vets League following this superb performance away at 3rd placed Interwood, goals from Saul Conway and Daniel Stanton securing the 3 points required to win the trophy.
Make no mistake, this is an incredibly tough league that this season was extended to 10 teams for the first time. Most sides feature players who played professionally or close to – over the years it’s been a privilege to share the pitch with so many names household names. In the first place we just played to enjoy, for a kick about, and got royally beaten most weeks. But over the period the side has improved, has attracted the better players, and now sit proudly as league champions.
Lions knew only a win would do. Missing only Lee Cash and John Rayner, a full squad travelled to East London for the match giving a plethora of selection headaches to the management. But all 16 in the playing squad knew their roles and performed them in what was the consummate team performance. Defensively Rob Glass and Guy Morris were outstanding, aided and abetted by David Soutar, Tony Gold and Adam Harvey, the latter giving his all despite having played the day before in the 1st Team. The opposition, with giant striker (and captain of Montserrat no less!) Ellis Remy a real handful, proved a constant threat, but they were kept at arms length by an outstanding defensive performance. Skipper Alex Levack and his partner Craig Pearl covered every blade to allow the front four to do their stuff. Paul Hakim, Saul Conway and Mike Pearson full of running to ask question after question, the supply line to them via the guile of Dan Stanton.
An even start saw both sides with early sighters of goal, but it was Lions who, on 25 minutes, took the lead. A ball forward was helped on by Pearson into the path of the marauding Conway who got the ball under control, stepped inside his man and lashed a left footed effort from just outside the box into the net past the keeper’s despairing dive. The lead however was put under threat not long after when after Abrahams failed to cleanly collect a cross, the referee saw an infringement no one else did. Justice seemingly prevailed though as the spot kick was struck wide. Lions then should have doubled the lead when Hakim literally burst past the right back and from the byline pulled the ball back into the path of Paul Lenchner, but he blazed the attempt over.
The second half remained a fiercely competitive battle, both sides giving their all. Lions shading it on the chances but unable to find the finishing touch, the Interwood keeper playing his part in keeping the visitors at bay. Lions, on the hour, were left ruing the referee again, when a Levack free kick was taken off the head of Soutar by the fist of the centre back. A clear handball but nothing given. Hadley Silver, James Abrams and Max Radford all entered the fray to give the side fresh impetus and all played their part. Abrams with a marauding run that saw him through on goal, the keeper though saving his effort. But when Silver twisted and clipped the ball inside it found its way to Stanton just inside the box. He let fly, the net bulgled and Lions had the cushion they needed. They played out the final few minutes with few alarms, the final whistle cued appropriate celebration.