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Lions will learn from defeat, says Gold

Tony Gold believes London Lions will learn some valuable lessons from their 3-2 defeat against Harpenden in the SSML.

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SPARTAN SOUTH MIDLANDS LEAGUE DIVISION ONE
LONDON LIONS 2 HARPENDEN TOWN 3

Tony Gold believes London Lions will learn some valuable lessons from their 3-2 defeat against Harpenden in the SSML.

The Lions were left to rue what could have been on Saturday afternoon in a first-half performance that merited more, but where the team's application in the second-half meant they came away with nothing.

Two goals up at the break, the Lions looked like they might win a second game on the bounce, producing a spirited and determined display, but never has the cliche 'a game of two halves' been more apt as they were undone by complacency and a lack of discipline and fitness in the final minutes of a pulsating game.

The Lions took on Harpenden Town in their third home game of the season, looking to build on two previous wins. But Harpenden, who arrived top of the league, came with their own aspirations of finishing the day where they started it as league leaders.

Both sides settled quickly but it was the hosts that got into gear quicker as they took the game to their opponents in the early stages. Lions's second corner of the afternoon found the back of the net, courtesy of a great Josh Kennet delivery and a good header from Michael Sacks.

Harpenden pushed and pushed for the equaliser, but Lions back four held firm and dealt with everything that came their way even though the visitors Harry Hunt looked dangerous.

One soon became two, as a great move which started in the Lions half ended with Rafi Soccairello releasing Max Kyte who scored his second goal of the campaign.

Lions ended the half in the ascendency but Harpenden were far from out of it. The second half was one Lions will want to forget about quickly and learn from even quicker moving forward. Harpenden went straight for the jugular and Lions slow out of the blocks never recovered.

The visitors pulled a goal back on 55 minutes, an inviting ball swung deep across the box was met by Collin at the far post and he finished coolly.

Lions had a tremendous opportunity to extend their lead when Kennet fed in Kyte, but the latter's shot was brilliantly saved by the opposing keeper.

With important decisions now going against the Lions, bad turned to worse as Harpenden equalised. Four Lions players failed to put a tackle in and pressure on the ball and Elliot could not believe his luck as the goal opened up and he shot past an exposed Mario Cenolli in the Lions goal.

Lions then had Cenolli dismissed following a controversial incident. With one of Harpenden's players down injured, Cenolli kicked the ball into touch so the player could receive treatment. When play resumed, rather than throwing the ball back to the Lions keeper, one of the visitors players thought it clever to boot the ball towards the corner flag for a throw. Cenolli was incensed, as were the Lions bench, and the keeper's frustration ended with a confrontation with one of the opposing players, which resulted in the referee brandishing a red card. Sub keeper Jordan Davidson was immediately dispatched into goal, as Lions had 15 minutes to try and hold onto a point.

Lions soaked up incredible pressure as the game etched towards full time. Then in the 94th minute of injury time, Lions suffered a cruel and undeserved blow as Harpenden snatched all three points. A dangerous ball found its way across goal and into the path of Henderson who sent a crashing shot past the hapless Davidson.

Gold was disappointed with the goals his side conceded. He said: "We've got to the end of August with six points out of 12 which is about right. I've told the players we'll go through the course of the season like this until we get a greater consistency and better fitness levels.

"You saw the best of us in the first half and the worst of us in the second. The team needs to show greater collective responsibility when defending without the ball, but this can only be addressed and worked on at training.

"Today the players learnt another valuable lesson, when we kicked off for the second-half we didn't do things right and football isn't a game you can turn on and off like a tap.

"All that said, we will take away the positives from a great first-half."

Lions: Mario Cenolli, David Soutar, Michael Sacks, Kyle Bentwood, Rafi Soccairello, Joel Sharpe, Andy Glynne, Alex Lee, Dean Nyman (sub: Jordan Davidson), Josh Kennet, Max Kyte

Goals: Michael Sacks, Max Kyte

Sent off: Mario Cenolli

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