Five local footballers stepped up to help injury-hit Kings Langley last night as their Southern League Challenge Cup campaign ended at the first hurdle with a 3-0 defeat at home to AFC Dunstable.

The lack of interest in the tie was reflected by a small attendance which Kings stated failed to cover the cost of the officials, with the hosts facing a tie with nine first-team players injured and four days ahead of their crucial FA Cup third qualifying round clash with Corinthian-Casuals.

This meant the home side had to sign five players with hours to spare but Jamie Calvin, Owen Deamer, Jack Halcomb, Danny Warwick and Charlie Webster did the home side proud.

Indeed, interim boss Ryan Jackett’s side dominated their opponents for the first 20 minutes, but a goal on the half-hour, a penalty just before half-time and a third goal against 10 men in the latter stages saw Dunstable prevail.

Calvin, Halcomb and Warwick joined Kane Farrell and debutant goalkeeper Jake Victor in a new-look defence, Deamer started in midfield, Webster was a second-half substitute and Stevie Ward returned from a loan spell on the wing.

As well as conceding a spot-kick on the pitch, the defeat resulted in other penalties for the hosts.

Ward’s game lasted only 26 minutes before he aggravated a back injury and Harry Crawford was sent off for a second booking after the break.

The striker had been yellow carded along with Billy Baird following a first-half altercation between the pair and paid the price following a show of frustration in the 76th minute. The suspension will not take effect for Saturday’s tie, but Crawford would be banned for any replay.

The forward had been central to Kings’ good start to the contest when a Farrell shot was tipped over, a Mitchell Weiss cross shaved the top of the bar, a Matty Campbell-Mhlope shot was inches over and Crawford himself sent a close-range header into Dan Green’s arms before forcing the keeper into a flying save.

However, the experienced Dunstable side gradually got back into the game, with Taylor Rhiney hitting a post and although Leon Cashman’s low drive could be said to be against the run of play, the penalty for a trip on Martell Powell, converted by Newman Carney put them in the driving seat.

The second half was a long one, in miserable weather, and although the patchwork team looked the equals of their opponents, the reduction to 10 men allowed Powell to grab an opportunist’s goal towards the end of an unusual, but strangely positive night for the hosts.

Kings Langley: Victor; Farrell, Halcomb, Calvin, Warwick; Ward (Hercules 26), Deamer (Webster 80), Coldicott-Stevens, Campbell-Mhlope; Crawford, Weiss. Subs not used: Minter, Edgar.