With the majotity representing Lions in the Garston Masters league, the rest bolstered by Dan Jacobs’ 35+ Maccabiah Squad, Lions took to the Peter Morrison Trophy as part of their preparations for Israel and inflicted a first defeat on holders Hendon for 3 years.
As expected Hendon were at them from the off, pressing all over the pitch as they sought to stamp their authority on the game. But against hotshots Lewis and Fehler were a defensive line that stood firm, Corrin, playing in goal against his club side in this comp, having little to concern him. Morris, Glass, Myeroff and Harvey simply excelled throughout.
And from this rock solid base, supremely screened by the live wire Levack, the Masters were able to play and it was they who, 15 minutes in, began to threaten. A fine Bentley pass found skipper Sloma’s defence splitting run, but a heavy touch allowed Caplin to get out to smother. The deputising Hendon keeper was in the action soon after to parry a stinging Stolerman strike before Pearl was next to test his agility, the keeper this time grabbing at the second attempt. But he was a relived man when Levack’s swinging corner went over his head and into the far corner, Masters celebrations cut short by a whistle for a pretty soft foul 6 yards away. The Masters were then frustrated by the lack of a whistle when Sloma’s heels were clipped by Peterman when away and again just before the break when Hakim burst clear but his strike struck the outside of the post and cannoned away to safety.
Hendon remained a threat on the break, Last impressing in the heart of their midfield, but the strength and know how of The Masters continued to keep them at bay. Daggers, Cash and Conway were by now on with Sloma having to leave and Pearl pulling up with a hamstring injury. But the changes didn’t hamper the side, Daggers continuing to keep things ticking over while the willing running of the two new forwards pushed Hendon back. Levack, now joined by Linger, bossed things in midfield, full backs Harvey and Myeroff taking every opportunity to get forward. One such break saw Hakim upended on the edge of the area, the free kick curled by him superbly into the top corner, but again the goal was chalked off, this time for a most generous offside call that left everyone bemused. Hendon fortunate to be let off the hook for a second time.
The game continued in the same vain – Masters with the ball looking good but Hendon always a danger, and when Greg Corrin freed Lewis the livewire cut back in and shot goalwards, but straight at Russ Corrin who made a comfortable save. At the other end Linger and then Myeroff both struck efforts from inside the box over the bar and, with the stalemate intact the game went into extra time.
The Masters midfield, with Bentley, Levack and Daggers, were strong both with and without the ball. Cash and Conway continued to be a real threat, but the goal wouldn’t come. That was until a minute into the second period when Stolerman controlled and drove into the box. He shot powerfully across the keeper, Caplin doing well to keep out the strike initially, but this time Conway was first to react, bundling the ball home from close range to give The Masters the lead. Hendon tried to react, but in truth The Masters on the break should have put the game to bed. Conway blazed over from close range following great work from Cash, Cash then frustrated by an excellent save from Caplin and a great block by Lebens. But as the game entered the final minutes the one clean sight of goal Hendon had been craving came along as a parry from Corin found Fehler at the far post, but from inside the 6 yard box he looped his header over the bar and with it the chance to extend their incredible run in this competition.
Few would deny however that The Masters were, on the day, good value for the win, and they will use the next tie in this competition to continue their preparations for Israel next summer. Dan Jacobs was delighted with the work out and pleased his charges got the reward their endeavours deserved. “We’ve a long way to go to ready ourselves for Israel, but playing together in competitions like this can only help us. We’ve a squad with plenty of ability and a hunger to improve as a Masters team. The group looked fit and strong today with all impressing – we look forward to the exciting challenges ahead”.
Lions Maccabiah Masters:
Russ Corin, Adam Myeroff, Guy Morris, Rob Glass, Adam Harvey, Alex Levack, Craig Pearl, Josh Bentley, Sam Sloma, Paul Hakim, Adam Stolerman, Lee Cash, Saul Conway, Danny Daggers, Paul Linger
MOM: Alex Levack