London Lions bowed out of the FA Vase in there first ever appearance in the competition losing 2-1 at home to London ASPA.
FA VASE FIRST QUALIFYING ROUND
LONDON LIONS 1 LONDON ASPA 2
Having fallen two goals behind from a penalty and a poor piece of marking at a set-piece, David Soutar pulled one goal back and gave Lions hope, but a late surge on the ASPA goal could not muster that much needed equaliser.
Lions' indifferent start to the season continued at Broxbourne in a physical encounter. It was a close game in the end but had Lions not conceded two poor goals and taken several good opportunities to score the result could have been very different.
A horrible wind made conditions for football extremely difficult. However, a young and inexperienced Lions side started well and had two decent efforts on goal in the first 10 minutes.
First, a quick break into ASPA’s half resulted in the ball falling to Dean Nyman but the forward watched his shot fly past the far post.
Then Daniel Stanton made room for himself to fire the ball straight at the keeper.
The game then entered a period of midfield stalemate, before ASPA’s No. 7 started to make an impact. His tenacious play always instigated everything good going forward for the visitors.
Zac Lichman in the Lions goal needed to be alert, especially with the blowing wind he was facing.
As half time approached it seemed both teams were content with keeping things tight and settling for the goalless first 45 minutes.
The early stages of the second period saw the visitors pressing forward, and with a rush of blood to the head Harry Hatchwell conceded a blatant foul in the Lions box giving the referee no option but to award a penalty. The spot kick was dispatched clinically by Umair Mauthoor as ASPA took a 1-0 lead.
Lions rallied and forced the ASPA keeper, Baker, into a brilliant save to repel Stanton’s point-blank header.
Lions were then denied a penalty themselves when Nyman looked to have his legs taken from him in the ASPA box but the referee chose to ignore the pleas.
Play immediately switched ends, and suddenly Lions found themselves 2-0 behind. ASPA delivered a routine corner into the Lions box but not one of the Lions players reacted to a late run from ASPA’s No. 11. Unmarked and with the goal at his mercy, Zubair Haleem - the shortest player on the pitch - headed home.
There was still enough time for Lions to get back into the match and actually win it. After another period of prolonged pressure Lions pulled one back. David Soutar swept the ball into the back of the net from barely 10 yards out, giving ASPA’s keeper no chance.
With 20 minutes remaining it was virtually one-way traffic as Lions sensed that the game could be saved.
Stanton, Soutar, Marks, Barnes and Nyman all had decent chances to score but none of them could convert when it mattered.
As the final minutes approached Lions threw everything at ASPA’s goal and despite the visitors being reduced to 10 men following a rather late tackle by Jagbir Singh Birring on Adam Myeroff, Lions just couldn’t dispatch the ball into the goal for a deserved equaliser.
It was a disappointing outcome for Lions as once again they were ultimately punished for not being clinical enough.
Lions manager Tony Gold said: "We missed a great opportunity today. Not through lack of effort from the lads who played, but from individuals who chose to be somewhere else and not show the commitment of their teammates.
"I have no doubt in my mind whatsoever with another attacking option and a couple of other subs I could have changed the final 30 minutes and got a positive result.
“I am caught between the devil and deep blue sea at the moment but radical changes within the club are imminent and the sooner the club get players that are committed to it 100 per cent the better it will be for everyone.
“I accept now we need to take one, two maybe three steps back in order to take several steps forward and after today that is exactly what will happen.
London Lions: Ziggy Lichman, Danny Berg, Aron Barnes, Adam Myeroff, David Soutar, David Cohen, Daniel Stanton, Ben Lampert, Harry Hatchwell, Jordan Marks, Dean Nyman (capt)
London ASPA:<: G. Baker; A. Salim, J. Birring, M. Hussian, Z. Chuhan; U. Mauthoor, Z. Haleem, Z. Husein, U.Hussain (capt) Y. Patel; M. Dakri. Subs used, A. Semiu, S.O'Hara, I.Patel