There were nine of the new summer signings in the starting line-up for Leverstock Green as they began their competitive league season with a trip to London Colney in the SSML Premier Division.
But it was a bit of a false start for the new-look side as they were beaten 2-0 on a swelteringly hot afternoon at Cotlandswick.
The hosts took the lead in the third minute from a free-kick. The ball was crossed to the far post, where Kambo Smith headed back across goal for Zack Holding to come in and head home.
Leverstock’s first effort on goal came in the ninth minute when Elliot Dobbs pulled the ball back from the bye-line to Chris Blunden, who curled an effort just over the angle of post and bar.
There was another chance in the 24th minute when Jonathan Lacey’s corner was headed on by Jude Bell towards the far post, where Shane Wood slid in but he couldn’t keep his effort under the bar.
Colney took their lead into half-time and almost extended it five minutes into the second period when Leverstock gave the ball away in their own half, but Kambo Smith’s shot was turned round the post by Green keeper Arvydas Kacinkevicius.
Leverstock’s hopes of getting back into the game were dealt a blow in the 55th minute when they were reduced to ten men. Jordon Goode went up for an aerial challenge with Joe Reynolds and appeared to win the header, but the referee adjudged that he had led with his elbow, and showed a straight red card while Reynolds was receiving treatment.
A second goal for the home side in the 65th minute left Leverstock with a mountain to climb, as Reynolds’ replacement Chris Griffin got on the end of a cross from the right wing with a powerful header past Kacinkevicius.
Colney held onto their lead for the rest of the game as Leverstock’s ten men rarely looked like pulling off a comeback in the energy-sapping conditions.
It was a disappointing result and performance, especially after some of the impressive displays seen in pre-season, but joint managers Peter Waller and Mark Royal were keen to turn things around when they played Tring Athletic last night (Tuesday) as the Gazette was going to press.
This Sunday they then visit Southall in the FA Cup extra- preliminary rounds.