Stansfeld/Eltham Palace crashed to a 4-1 home defeat at the hands of league leaders Rusthall on Sunday.
An already injury-hit Stansfeld side were further weakened three hours before kick-off when in-form striker Ryan Hassan had to cry off through illness. Stansfeld are the only team to have beaten Rusthall in the League this season, after their 2-1 victory at Jockey’s Field in December.
That win ended the longest running unbeaten run in non-league football this season.
Stansfeld knew, therefore, that Rusthall would be looking to avenge that blip on their record. Stansfeld had the best of the early chances with first Billy Jolley forcing a good save from Rusthall keeper Sean Ingleson.
Perry Holland, Archie Johnson and Jolley all went close to an opener before Stansfeld stopper James Bradley saved John Sebbar’s shot.
Rusthall took the lead nineteen minutes in when Ian Parson’s long-range free-kick eluded Bradley, but Stansfeld were level three minutes later as Mark McKenna curled a superb shot into the top left-hand corner of the net from 30 yards.
But just when it looked like Stansfeld might take the lead they were undone again when Sebbar broke down the left wing and whipped in a low cross that was deflected home by Parsons for his and Rusthall’s second on 33 minutes.
Fourteen minutes from time Rusthall sub George Rogers crossed for John Phillips to head home from close range to give them a two-goal cushion. Stansfeld piled forward looking for a goal but that left them exposed, and Adam Davies sealed the win with a breakaway goal when he rounded Bradley to roll the ball into the empty net.
Stansfeld/Eltham Palace are at home to SC Thamesmead on Saturday in the Southern Counties East Football League Division One. Kick-off is 3pm. The 1st Team drew 2-2 with table-topping Greenways at the weekend, with Harry Sewell getting both Stansfeld goals. The Reserves game fell victim to a waterlogged pitch.