EE Phoenix 0-2 Nottingham Lions
There’s an old saying that you can’t beat experience and that theory was borne out yet again as Nottingham’s savvy and resolute squad secured their fifth successive win against the GFSN league champions on the grass of Hackney Marshes.
Phoenix were left totally bewildered on how to break Lions down. A quick start saw Jack and then Robbie fire shots wide before the home team wasted their best chance of the game on five minutes.
With the striker two yards out unmarked it took Liam’s thrusting right foot to save the day and deflect the shot to safety.
Robbie had to come off thanks to a pot hole, but Mario stepped in and did a grand job.
‘…The togetherness and work rate for each other was fantastic to see from those that started to those that came on, every single one gave a man of the match performance should be proud.Andrew T | Nottingham Lions Chairman
Treaders’ neat cross-field pass released James H and with the keeper well off his line Lions winger lobbed him, the ball tantalisingly going in, or was it…the defender racing back for a goal line clearance.
A midfield battle ensued and although Phoenix were passing crisply Nottingham were stronger in the challenges, giving nothing away and making no silly mistakes, chances had to be earned.
James H came so close on 27 minutes firing his shot across the keeper with Asher inches away from tapping it home but the breakthrough came within two minutes.
Mathew’s teasing, well flighted free kick caused havoc and James H seized the moment to prod home at the back post.
That galvanised Lions even more and although Phoenix responded with two efforts, they were tame and tentative.
They then did in-fact score but Liam had been clearly fouled in the move. Unlike the Charlton game the ref saw this foul.
Nottingham’s most capped player was proving to be an absolute nightmare for the home right back as James H’s pacey run and accurate cross found Mat H in space and the “comeback kid” saw his effort tipped onto a post and safe.
HT: EE Phoenix 0-0 Nottingham Lions
Treaders was full of praise for the lads commitment thus far whilst the homesters must have received sterner words and they did come out fighting, gaining a higher percentage of possession.
However, football matches provide the odd inspirational moment and boy did we get one here, on 53 minutes.
In a five second sequence Pij somehow won a 40/60 ball in midfield with the ricochet looking to run into an opponents path, but Adam W timed his crunching slide tackle to perfection.
This incident certainly lifted Nottingham hearts and with pressure mounting, it was a godsend.
In a heavily populated area Liam did well to punch away a tricky free kick with Phoenix going up two gears from the first half.
Funnily enough though it was Lions who had the clearer chances on the breakaways.
A goalmouth scramble frustratingly wasn’t converted before Asher tested the keeper from distance.
James H then shot just over and one wondered if Nottingham were going to put this game to bed? The answer… YES!
Robbie’s strong throw in down the line on 75 minutes saw Asher run with determination, his cross found Chris N who intelligently squared to James H who thumped home.
Phoenix now gambled playing route one football but Lions defended as if their lives depended on it.
They played the clock down to perfection and to be honest,Liam had very few saves to make, a testament to a well disciplined and organised team.So a third away win in London in six weeks and much deserved.
FT: EE Phoenix 0-2 Nottingham Lions
Two full-backs are fearless and strong and really make the back four very solid.
Every single player had at worst a 9/10 game but one feels the experience of the side is a telling factor and it’s so reassuring to have Mat and Pij back in the fold.
This team seems to be getting better and better and one cannot recall in sixteen years of Lions history a better TEAM performance, to witness it was an absolute pleasure.
Lions – Liam, Robbie, Iain, Adam, Simon, Andy T, Andy P, Sean M, James H, Mathew and Jack.
Subs – Mario, Asher and Chris N.
Scorer – James H 2.