London Lions saw their 13-match unbeaten run halted after they went down 2-0 at AFC Dunstable in the South Midlands League Division One.
Missing three key players in Guy Morris, Rob Glass and Matt Stock, who have been influential in recent weeks, Lions struggled defensively but oddly still created a handful of opportunities to take something from the game.
As it was they were punished for a lack of focus as AFC Dunstable completed a league double over their visitors.
The two sides played earlier in the season in a game that Dunstable won 2-1. It is fair to say that that encounter was far better then one played in fog at Creasey Park.
Tony Gold, the Lions manager, was forced to make three changes from the side that drew with leaders Berkhamsted the previous week. With a completely new partnership at centre half, and lacking pace out wide, the visitors never truly got to grips with the game. Lions huffed and puffed but lacked penetration up front and cohesion at the back.
Having said that, Lions leading scorer James Gershfield had arguably had the two best chances of the first half bar. He hit the post early on before firing wide when one on one with the keeper followed by another effort that was well saved minutes later.
The home side always looked threatening as the Lions back four was never at ease which was some what surprising given the experience of Craig Ellis, David Soutar, Aron Barnes and Adam Myeroff.
As the first half drew to a close and the fog thickened, Lions were fully aware that they were below par in relation to performance and had to vastly improve in the second period to come away from Dunstable with anything positives.
There was a vast improvement as they dominated the first 20 minutes of the second half without carving out a single goal scoring opportunity. With Lions good overall possession and constant attacking threat it looked like the game was going to finish goalless.
That was until a bit of magic from AFC’s right winger sent Aron Barnes on a merry dance and left him chasing shadows before cutting in and smashing home an unstoppable shot.
The goal came completely against the run of play and how Lions would rue those two early first-half misses by Gershfield. With Lions pushing for an equaliser, Adam Stolerman lost possession of the ball which was eventually punished as the AFC Dunstable player played an inch-perfect pass between Soutar and Ellis which his attacking team mate latched onto, dragged round Danny Berliner and slotted home.
The home side shut up shop with 10 minutes remaining with Lions tasting league defeat for the first time in 14 games.
Lions manager Tony Gold said: “On paper we had a strong solid team even with three regulars missing, but bits of paper don’t win football matches. Our application and attitude today quite simply weren’t up so scratch. Yes, we had our moments which you would expect with the amount of possession we had but we were far to complacent at both ends and paid the price.”
Lions: Berliner, Barnes, Myeroff, C. Ellis, Soutar, Stanton, Lauffer, Glynne, Gershfield, Keterman, Stolerman (sub: Lew)