Legends tame the Lions in clash of Glendale Titans

GLENDALE League U10s

Alnwick Lions 0 Longhoughton Legends 3

THE Legends ran out comfortable winners in their top-of-the-table clash with Alnwick Lions on Saturday, as the Glendale League resumed after an 11-week mid-winter hiatus.

With both sides sporting a 100 per cent record in the league prior to the winter layoff, something had to give.

From the off, the lengthy break appeared to have affected the Lions more than their rivals as the previously free scoring Alnwick side were frequently stretched by the fluid passing of the Legends. To the Lions’ credit, despite being well below their best, the game only slipped away in the final six minutes when they conceded two goals in quick succession.

The game started slowly as players from both sides got used to the idea of playing competitive football once again. With chances at a premium, the Lions just shaded the early exchanges.

Thomas Forster and Callum Robertson were calm in the Lions’ defence as the Legends probed down either wing and the Lions found a ready outlet going forward in Liam Jefferies who began brightly on the right wing for them.

One through ball from Forster set Jefferies free on the right after five minutes, but there was no one in the box to meet his cross. Two minutes later, Jefferies found himself clean through and while he was forced wide right by the Longhoughton defence, he still brought a good save at the near post from Matisse Richards in the Legends goal.

Mostly, however, the Legends’ defence was solid and Joe Pickard and Scott Dransfield up front for the Lions, often found themselves muscled and hustled off the ball by the physically bigger Legends defenders.

Three Legends’ corners in quick succession around the 12 minute mark tested the Lions, resolve, bringing two fisted saves in quick succession from Lions keeper Jay Graham.

From the third corner, however, a long Lions clearance set Dransfield away, bringing another good save from Richards in the Legends goal. Moments later, Dransfield saw a shot fly just wide after the Lions gave a glimpse of their passing ability. A swift short pass from substitute Raphael McCall played captain Will Sibson into space, and he in turn fed Dransfield in full flight.

However, just before half-time the Lions fell behind to a well worked Legends goal. A great cross in from the right was met with a powerful header that left Graham with no chance in the Lion’s goal. Moments later, a repeat move saw a second header flash just over the bar.

The second half followed a similar pattern to the first: Lions attacks foundering on a solid central defensive partnership for the Legends, while Forster and Callum Robertson, played at the top of their game in the Lions defence. Robertson in particular was called into action time and again to clear the Lions’ lines, also making a number of perfectly-timed tackles to break up promising Legends moves.

All the time that the Legends lead remained 1-0, you felt the Lions were in with a chance. In the 25th minute, Joe Pickard curled a lovely shot just wide of the post from the edge of the Legends’ area. Too often, however, the Lions’ attacks were easily broken up by the Legends’ players who were half a yard quicker to most balls.

In the 30th minute, the Lions had Forster’s backside to thank for saving them after keeper Graham rushed off his line to intercept an on-rushing Legends striker, only to miss. Forster, tracking back rapidly, just managed to block the goal bound shot. His defensive partner, Robertson continued to be in the thick of the action and even had a shot on goal himself which went narrowly wide from well outside the Legends’ area.

However, after rescuing the Lions on numerous occasions throughout the game, Robertson handled a cross into the Lions’ area on the 34th minute and gifted a penalty to the Legends, which was comfortably tucked away.

With less than six minutes left to play, the Lions’ heads dropped. The Legends seized the moment and added a third goal in the 38th minute when a sweeping move ended when Forster could only clear into the path of an advancing Legends’ striker who left Graham with no chance.

It was the Lions’ first defeat of the season and they now lie two points adrift of the Longhoughton Legends with five more games of this heavily disrupted season to play.

Alnwick Lions: Jay Graham, Reece Gaines, Raphael McCall, Jack Clements, Thomas Forster, Liam Jefferies, Joe Pickard, Scott Dransfield, Will Sibson, Callum Robertson, James Crisp.