London Lions Reserves' double hopes were dealt a blow as they were beaten by second-placed Risborough Rangers who moved six points clear in the South Midlands League Reserve League Division Two
Risborough came to Rowley Lane and gave their hosts a lesson in how to defend for 90 minutes, completing a smash and grab by converting their only chances and, in so doing, recording a league double over Lions and taking a firm grip on second place.
Losing goalkeeper Ziggy Lichman to first team duty meant an enforced start for manager Danny Jacobs between the sticks. In truth he was required to do little, sadly though his only two meaningful contributions to the game saw him pick the ball out of the net in a five minute period just shy of the half hour. Firstly from a soft penalty, awarded when Adam Myeroff hung out a leg, then, having wastefully conceded possession, Adam Lauffer brought down the forward on the edge of the box, Jacobs unable to do more than help the ensuing free kick into the net.
Aside from this Risborough did not muster an effort on goal, Myeroff and Ellis in particular rock solid. So it was down to what they could do at the other end. Some of their passing and football was as good as they've produced all season, Craig Ellis, Ben Joseph, Linger and Ben Lampert creating space and openings, but the clear cut chances would not fall. Jospeh jinked into the box but shot straight at the keeper, Green shot wide and Linger's instant volley flew barely an inch over.
The second half saw Lions sacrifice a defender in Lew and a midfielder in Lampert as they really went for it. Bringing on wingers Jeremy Julius and Charlie Cohen they more or less played 3-3-4, but for all their huffing and puffing and total domination of possession it was hats off to Risborough who defended magnificently.
Denying Lions space they protected their lead admirably. There was of course the odd chance - Green got round the back but his shot lacked power before seeing his cross-shot miss the outstretched boot of Nick Goodman by the smallest of margins.
The Lions skipper had a header off target before late drive from Ellis was palmed over the bar. In truth though there was little that had the visiting bench covering their eyes.
So Lions are left to rue what might have been. Two mistakes proved costly in the extreme - Lions though need to dust themselves down and go again.
With six league games to go and a cup final on the May 7 there is still plenty to look forward to as Lions look to finish what can only be seen as a highly successful debut season with something tangible to show for their efforts.