Linsell injury leaves FA tie in the balance

Leverstock Green’s fate in the FA Cup is now in the hands of the FA after tonight’s replay was abandoned in stoppage time due to a serious injury to Green defender Casey Linsell with Edgware Town leading 3-2.

It was a bad night all round for Leverstock, who had already lost their other full-back Zak Howells to an injury in the 8th minute. Edgware took the lead in the 23rd minute through substitute Hanni Berchiche, who had only been on the field for a minute. It was an unfortunate goal for David Lawrence, who stuck out a boot to win the ball on the edge of his own box, only to divert it straight into the path of Berchiche, who slotted past stand-in keeper Luke Preedy.

Leverstock’s woes in front of goal continued, with Sam Nair hitting the bar from a corner on 30 minutes, and a long-range effort from Chris Marsh hitting the post on 42 minutes. However, a minute before the break Leverstock levelled the scores with a stunning 25-yard shot from Linsell, straight across the keeper into the corner of the net.

The second half opened brightly for Leverstock, with a looping header from Lewis Bowers going just over the bar inside two minutes, and a great move involving Lawrence and Ross Adams ending with a shot from Nair being tipped over the bar by Edgware keeper Cain Davies in the 49th minute.

However, two minutes later a free kick from Ethan Mooney was parried away by Preedy, but Fergus Moore netted the rebound to put Edgware back in the lead at 2-1. Edgware could have clinched the tie shortly afterwards, but Preedy produced a great save to turn a shot round the post when the striker was clean through, and a goalline clearance from the resulting corner kept Leverstock in the game.

This proved crucial as the scores were levelled again in the 64th minute when a great cross from Linsell was met with a superb diving header from Lawrence to make it 2-2.

Seven minutes from time it looked like Leverstock were about to go in front when Jonathan Lacey picked the ball up inside his own half and turned on the pace to race clear through the middle of the Edgware defence, but somehow last season’s top scorer pulled his eventual shot just wide of the post. Three minutes later Lacey got on the end of a cross from Linsell but his header hit the bar.

The game was still level at 90 minutes, but a controversial goal put Edgware back in front in the second minute of stoppage time. Linsell was clearly fouled in the build-up, but the referee gave nothing, and even more unfortunately for Leverstock the eventual cross took a big deflection and Mooney was left with a with a tap-in from a yard out.

There had been a number of injury stoppages during the second half, and six minutes of stoppage time had been played when Linsell went up for an aerial challenge, came down awkwardly and didn’t get up again. It looked like a serious ankle injury, and with an ambulance having been called and Linsell unable to be moved, the referee abandoned the game, indicating that there had still been another minute to play.

The FA will decide tomorrow whether the result will stand or the game will be replayed, based on the referee’s report.

UPDATE: Casey Linsell suffered a cracked bone in his ankle and ligament damage, while Zak Howells suffered a fractured metatarsel. Both full-backs will be out for 8 weeks. Still no word from the FA on whether the result will stand.