Brereton Lion continued their CCFL Premier League title charge with a battling but at times poor display against CK77. The Lion hammered CK at home 7-0 and carried a few too many players who thought this game was going to be another stroll in the park. Manager Corrigan was let down badly by players who did not even appear at the Social for the match departure. Not good enough and could have been costly, with The Lion only able to field two subs in Allison and Baker. CK only had a bare 11 and grafted hard to keep the dominant Lion at bay. The Lion should have opened the scoring when Simpson found himself in the box with time to shoot on his normally accurate left foot. However Simpson hit wide and star player Ashley Andrews missed a sitter not long after. The Lion were looking to Fulton for inspiration but the CK defence were marking him tightly and not allowing him to complete his powerful runs at goal from the flank. Perry was constantly testing the away defence with lung busting and energetic runs into the channels. When The Lion did settle some good football was played, with Stevey Allen once again being behind most of the good stuff. Carter was his usual powerhouse presence in the midfield and had his hands full trying to stop the CK danger man Dan Lomas. Ainger and Cushen showed strong defensive work.
The Lion switched on midway through the first half and were starting to become over reliant on top keeper Matty Cottrell. Casper was a calming presence and showed superb handling and footwork all game. CK could have scored and The Lion needed to start grafting a little more. Chandler and Franklin were probing in attack, with Chandler’s direct running and Franklin’s accurate lofted balls getting the CK defence working hard.
The Lion opened the scoring on the half hour mark with Stevey Allen striking low past the CK keeper after his first shot was well blocked. A well taken goal by a player who is showing his class after an injury hit Brereton Lion start. 1-0.
This goal gave The Lion a shot of confidence, and despite a sluggish start they soon scored one of their best goals of the season. This goal was reminiscent of a ruthless counter attacking Germany or Real Madrid side. A CK corner was superbly caught in a packed six yard box by Casper who immediately had the vision and awareness to throw a long ball to Flash who spun and played in an onrushing Beckham Fulton. Young Beckham, who was in a complete drunken state at The Lion Christmas bash on the Friday night, once again wowed The Lion supporters with his cheekiness and composure by lofting the ball over the stranded CK keeper from 20 yards. Surely the best start to a season from a youngster since Ryan Giggs in 92/93. 2-0.
The Lion went into HT happy with the score but not the overall performance.
Bad news for The Lion at the start of the second half with Flash pulling up injured with a hamstring strain after only five minutes of the half. A bad blow for the club with Flash revelling in his playmaker role. On stepped the returning Bullet Baker after a recent suspension with Perry stepping into the CF role. The Lion nearly wrapped up the game when Simpson smashed an acrobatic volley against the bar. Simpson was enjoying the licence to attack and bamboozled the away defence on a few occasions.
CK hit The Lion hard with a swift counter attack on the hour that brought them smack back into the game. 2-1. Allison was introduced to help deal with the expected long ball game and as hoped headed the ball away from danger well time after time. CK never really threatened a massive comeback but 2-1 is always a scary score line and The Lion needed to put this game to bed. Baker and Allen spurned good chances after slick approach play and Corrigan's nerves were jangling. Finally, the always willing Ross Perry finished home from close range in the box, showing predatory instincts to beat the excellent CK keeper. 3-1 and Game Over!
A good 3 points for The Lion, with a battling and gutsy display. A true sign of a strong team if you can win when playing poorly. Must improve next week though with a massive game due with Hawkins visiting Armitage Lane for a crunch league fixture. And MUST have at least three subs!
Man of the match: Casper, who was overworked at times, and showed what a great keeper he is.