London Lions were well beaten by Wodson Park in a game where they were up against it before a ball was kicked.
An hour before kick-off, Lions lost their keeper to a repoted flat tyre and Josh Kennet pulled out to last-minute work commitments.
Manager Tony Gold managed to pull in 18-year-old Declan Green at 40 minutes notice to take charge between the sticks.
As it was there were eight changes to the side that managed a decent point at home to Cockfosters and it was clear from the off it was going to be a long night.
Before Wodson Park began their domination it was Lions who carved out the first chance of the evening. Dean Nyman storming down the right flank and whipping in a dangerous cross only for the on-rushing Jordan Marks unable to make the connection needed to divert the ball into the net.
That unfortunately was as good as it got for the visitors in this South Midlands League Division One clash.
After 15 minutes Lions found themselves a goal down. Green in the Lions goal failed to deal with a high cross and following some comical defending Andy Myers hurried clearance ricocheted off David Soutar and ended up in the back on the net.
Gold would have expected an immediate response but it never materialised. Disjointed, devoid of ideas and lacking in heart summed up the remaining 30 minutes of the half. Nyman and young Marks were two Lions players who could come off at half time with their heads held high as they worked tirelessly for their team in the attacking third.
Wodson Park play a fast, direct style of football, getting the ball forward quickly into the channels and the spaces behind the back four - in other words perfect for counter-attacking. With Lions needing to chase a goal, this suited them down to the ground.
The second goal came more simply than that, however, when the speedy and dangerous Tyler Hatherly pushed the ball past Danny Berg and got to the bye-line where he delivered a cross which Daniel Burke smashed past Green.
Half time was reached with no more goals but that was mainly down to Green in the Lions goal who produced three excellent saves. Gold changed the formation at half-time and used both subs to change personnel. Andy Myers, who pulled his hamstring, and TJ Keterman were replaced by Ben Lampert and Nicky Lewis, who was making his full first team debut at the age of 18, respectively.
Any hopes of a Lions comeback were dashed 10 minutes into the second half when lively Tyler Hatherly smashed a 25 yard shot into the top corner.
The fourth and final goal came late in the game when Adam Myeroff’s poor free-kick was intercepted by Hatherly. He burst past Myeroff and ran in on goal finishing clinically.
There could have been more but once again Green was equal and kept the score-line down.
It was a dispiriting evening for the Lions faithful who were left just as bemused as the management but in truth the team got what they deserved. Nothing.
Wodson Park seemed to revel playing against the Lions and having taken the lead, were able to adapt to the pitch, play the ball around confidently and play to their strengths.
The Lions were never able to deal with the pace of the opposition forwards or fitness and with confidence dented, players started to take too many touches and passes started to be misplaced. All in all, the game was another lesson that even against a team who were one of the pre-season favourites to struggle, there are no easy games in the Spartan South Midlands League.
"It seems that I am in the same company as Arsene Wenger and Harry Redknapp right now, good company just not the right circumstances,” Gold said following the defeat.
“I think Wenger and Redknapp will have taken something out of their defeats on the weekend and learn from them and I will do the same tonight.
“Every so often you have to have a reality check however at the moment it seems like we are having one every other week. There is never just one cause for a bad defeat. It is invariably an accumulation of different factors. My eyes have told me everything I need to know and the players are fully aware of the situation as well.
“Our results will continue to fluctuate between good and awful until collectively we become a settled team. There is no other way to dress it up. The level of football the club are now playing at needs a full commitment from the players playing in it. Anything less then that and what you end up with is the results the team are currently producing.
"Changes will be made on Saturday and if it means weakening the team in the short-term they will be better for it in the long-term.”
Lions: Declan Green, Andy Myers (sub: Nicky Lewis), Danny Berg, David Soutar, Adam Myeroff, Daniel Stanton, TJ Keterman (sub: Ben Lampert), Andy Glynne, Jordan Marks, Steve Summers, Dean Nyman,