Former leaders London Lions slipped down to third after suffering their first defeat of the season, going down 3-1 to fellow high-flyers Baldock Town in the Herts Senior County League Premier Division.
In a performance described as “Jekyl & Hyde” by manager Tony Gold, the Lions forged ahead in the first-half before a lacklustre second period saw them go down at Clarence Park, home of St. Albans City.
Top-scorer Adam Stolerman gave the Lions the perfect start with an early scorcher but Baldock hit back through a goal from a corner, a dubious penalty and a late strike on the break as Lions had thrown everyone forward in search of a late equaliser.
It was all-round gloom for Lions as in-form Andy Glynne had to leave the field of play 25 minutes in after injuring his ankle. Glynne was instrumental in all the good Lions play until his day was ruined by the injury.
With Lee Cash, Matt Stock unavailable and Aron Barnes still injured Lions set up with a compact midfield five. The new shape was working perfectly until Glynne’s early departure.
The Lions set out on exactly the right track by taking the game to Baldock and causing them all sorts of problems.
Lions goal arrived after a great passing move involving several players with prolific Stolerman unleashing an unstoppable drive that flew past the visiting goalkeeper.
The hosts could have and probably should have forged further ahead on 30 minutes but Ben Lauffer shot horribly wide when well placed.
Baldock seemed undaunted and with half-time offering them a chance to re-group and re-evaluate they came out for the second-half with fire in their bellies. Lions believing the job was done and that everything would just fall into place were handed a severe lesson.
Conceding a corner after intense pressure Lions once again showed their Achilles heel and were undone with an unmarked player drifting in at the far post and heading home.
Now it was the visitors on top and causing all the problems as Davis in the Lions goal was under constant pressure. Danny Cole in at left-back was given a torrid time by the nippy Baldock winger who was instrumental in all the decent Baldock build up play.
Four minutes after conceding Lions found themselves behind. A free-kick 20 yards out smashed against the Lions wall and the referee awarded a penalty for handball as he surmised that there was a deliberate handball. Davis dived the right way but the ball had too much power and nestled into the goal.
With 30 minutes remaining and the Lions seemingly unable to lift themselves out of the rut manager Tony Gold took off Lampert and Lauffer and introduced Ben Ellis and debutant Aron Freeman and reverted to 4-3-3.
Freeman offered a little spark with some decent runs and some decent delivery but the home side had nothing left.
And to rub salt into the wound going in search of an equaliser, Lions were hit on the break and one on one Adam Myeroff was outmuscled, injuring his ankle in the process, and the Baldock forward went clear to score and finally kill the game off.
Gold said: “You have to watch Baldock; they have pace out wide and up front and will cause you problems if you are not physically and mentally strong. First-half he proved more than capable second-half was the complete reverse and to be frank I am finding it impossible to explain why. We have spoken about it and we will address it, we have to address it.”
Lions: Matt Davis, Danny Berg, Danny Cole, Ben Lampert (sub: Ben Ellis), Guy Morris, Adam Myeroff, Rob Glass, Daniel Stanton, Ben Lauffer (sub: Aron Freeman), Andy Glynne (sub: Daniel Levenfiche), Adam Stolerman