Football: Barclays league division one-The Lions roar past Anse Reunion in league opener


The Lions fully deserve this narrow win especially based on their first half performance where they showed more purpose.

In fact, The Lions threatened as early as the eighth minute from new recruit Laurent Vel’s short corner which flew across goal to Darrel Damoo who failed to connect with the goal at his mercy.

Two minutes later, The Lions defender Dean Bristol set up new Malagasy recruit striker Antonio Rakotoarinosy who missed a sitter.

Eliminated from the Confederation of African Football (Caf) Confederation Cup by Kenyan outfit Gor Mahia on a 0-5 aggregate score (0-0 away and 0-5 at Stad Linite) in the preliminaries, Anse Reunion struggled to find their rhythm with a reshuffled squad as Malagasy defender and captain Eddy and Andy Ernesta are out injured.  However, the Land Marine Cup holders had a half chance in the 20th minute from Norvil Gaspard’s floated free-kick to Yelvanny Rose who lost his marker to tower a header agonisingly wide.

In the 22nd minute, The Lions again created a decent opportunity as Rachim Padayachy broke clear to pull the ball back to Laurent Vel who miscued his shot from a good scoring position.

On the half hour mark, Malagasy Antonio drilled a powerful low free-kick from just outside the penalty area which goalie and captain Ricky Rose just managed to turn into corner.

The Cascade-based side’s best chance to break the deadlock came in the 35th minute as they broke forward from an Anse Reunion corner which was cleared to captain Randolph Lablache. The Lions skipper linked up with Damoo who raced half the length of the pitch to set up Vel who in a one-on-one situation allowed goalkeeper Rose to block his shot. Vel got a second bite of the cherry but he surprisingly shot in the side-netting with his colleague awaiting a cross.

Vel again failed to hit the target in the 40th minute as he picked up a loose ball to cut inside a defender and let fly a cracking shot which goalkeeper Rose just managed to tip over the crossbar.

The boys of coach Gavin Jeanne got their due reward seven minutes into the second period (52d minute) as Malagasy Antonio collected a long ball from Ahmed Maurice. Antonio held off the challenge of Pierre-Luigi Nibourette to slot the ball past goalkeeper Rose to pen the score at 1-0.

Anse Reunion must be ruing themselves as it was a lack of concentration that cost them the goal as they prepared to make a double substitution but there was some confusion about who was supposed to come off.  They did manage to effect the two substitutions as Hubert Ernesta and Roderick Rose came on to inject more urgency into their play.

In the 57th minute, Anse Reunion’s Malagasy striker Hugo Sezou burst through but goalkeeper Jerome Dingwall blocked his shot with his feet.

Two minutes later on a counter-attack, Jude Nancy bore forward to release Vel who pulled the ball back to Malagasy Antonio who rifled wide.

In the 67th minute, Malagasy Antonio had an even better chance as Dean Bristol surged forward to elude defender Bernard Rose and lay the ball on a platter to him but from two metres out, he blazed the ball over the crossbar when it looked easier to score.

Anse Reunion huffed and puffed but failed to carve an opening and nearly conceded a second goal as captain Lablache ripped open their defence to thread a pass to Vel who fired wide.

The Lions though had done enough to secure three vital points against Anse Reunion who never looked the part.

The Lions manager David Khan said he is pleased that his team have registered a victory though their performance was not to the expected level and is hoping for a much improved showing in the next outing.

Anse Reunion’s coach Juel Ah-Kong told Sports Nation that he was disappointed with the result as his team needed a win to boost morale in their camp.

R. J-L.

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