HERTS SENIOR CENTENARY TROPHY 2ND ROUND
Despite a spirited performance by a side weakened by injuries and withdrawals Eagles were eventually overwhelmed by a Lions side that has won every game this season in all competitions, despite a heroic display by Eagles man of the match keeper Sam Swanton.
Eagles almost took a shock lead in the early minutes of the game when a Sam Gitting’s corner was headed just wide by Michael Deacon and then the keeper fumbled a shot from Jamie Platt from 20 yards, but Jamie Farrar was not close enough to poke home the loose ball from close range.
After the first 15 minutes Lions began to press the Eagles back, and after the no 9 broke through and shot just wide of the post Sam Swanton had to make the first of a series of great saves, parrying the ball wide. The ball was returned just wide of a post. Lions continued to create a host of chances with shots going wide, before after 35 minutes they scored the inevitable goal with an excellent shot into the far corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area giving Swanton no chance of saving.
Eagles responded with attacks on the break using Gittings and Kadeem Gutzmore. Gittings ran on to a through pass and was just beaten to the ball by the home keeper dashing to the edge of his penalty area and Platt fired over the crossbar from a pass by David Locke. Just before half time a Gittings chip shot from fully 20 yards forced the Lions keeper to make a great save to tip the ball over the crossbar at full stretch.
After half time Eagles tried to take the game to the Lions and Gittings ran past 2 defenders and a shot from the edge of the penalty area was well saved by the keeper. Swanton then had to punch a close range shot wide of his post and a goal bound shot was deflected on to the Eagles crossbar and to safety. Eagles were finally undone after 60 minutes by a tragic own goal by Iggy Thorne, who passed the ball back to his keeper without realising he had moved position, and the ball trickled agonisingly into the Eagles net.
Faced with an uphill task Eagles tried to claw a goal back. Costa Tragoustis broke clear on the left and his low shot was saved the keepers legs. Paul McGennity then made a great block to deflect the ball off the Eagles goal line and Swanton produced another excellent save. Lions wasted several good goal scoring chances and in the latter stages Swanton produced a string of wonder saves to deny them further goals. Eagles had their moments when a curling free kick by Carl Williams was headed over by Deacon, and Gutzmore was put through clear on goal only to shoot wide of a gaping goal from 12 yards.
Lions then scored 2 goals in the last 10 minutes as Eagles tired. A defensive error allowed the Lions no 9 to score comfortably from 10 yards, and then in added time Eagles defence went missing and failed to clear a low cross from the left giving an unmarked forward an easy chance to pass the ball into an empty net.