|Sat 30th Dec||3:00 pm||SSML Premier Division||2017/18|
Leverstock Green ended 2017 with a 2-2 draw against Berkhamsted in a top-of-the-table local derby in front of a bumper crowd at Pancake Lane on Saturday. It shows how far this Leverstock side has come over the last couple of months that they ended up disappointed at only getting a point against the unbeaten league leaders. Berkhamsted had been reduced to nine men after 80 minutes but held on through the remaining ten minutes plus an extra ten minutes of stoppage time to gain what for them was a very hard-won point.
The Pancake Lane pitch had taken the rain of the previous couple of days well, and no morning pitch inspection was required. A bigger problem for the players was the strong wind, with both sides hitting corners that cleared everybody in the box in the opening half hour. The visitors had the first effort on goal, with Max Farrelly’s long-range shot going over the bar in the 5th minute. Four minutes later at the other end a pass from Chris Marsh set up Matt Bateman for a shot which Berko keeper Carl Tasker did well to turn round the post. From the resulting corner a thumping shot from Curtis Donaldson brought another good save out of Tasker.
The referee got his notebook out for the first time in the 29th minute, booking Berko’s Kyle Anthony for a foul on Bateman, followed by a booking for Ashley Morrissey for complaining about the first yellow card. After a long period with no clear chances for either side, the game exploded into life with three goals in four minutes. In the 34th minute a pass from Ross Adams set up Bateman to stroke home a neat finish and put Leverstock in front against his former club. Bateman has now scored in the last ten league games he has appeared in.
However, the lead lasted less than two minutes. Morrissey made a run into the box and laid off to Farrelly, who sent a lob over Green keeper Matt Evans to equalise against his former club. Before another two minutes had passed, Ashton Campbell fired home a shot from the edge of the box into the bottom corner of the net to put Berko into a 2-1 lead. Leverstock then had a great chance to equalise almost immediately as Brima Johnson squared into the six yard box for David Lawrence, who didn’t get a proper contact on his shot and sliced it just wide of the post.
Leverstock went into half time trailing 2-1, but with little over three minutes of the second half played they were level again as Brima Johnson hit a stunning shot out of the blue from 25 yards which gave Tasker no chance.
The Green side had a lot more of the ball in the second half and were looking the more likely side to score. Alex Marsh curled an effort just over the bar on 61 minutes, and on 67 minutes Bateman had the ball in the net again after a Johnson shot had been parried, but was flagged for offside. On 67 minutes Chris Marsh hit a great shot from distance which struck the base of the post and went wide.
The controversy began two minutes later when Berko were reduced to ten men, with Steve Hawes being shown a straight red card for a strong challenge, and they were further reduced to nine men in the 80th minute when Jack Stevens got another straight red for a dangerous challenge. There might have been a third red card when Berko skipper Jon Munday reacted angrily to being penalised for a foul on Bateman, but Munday got away with just a yellow card. Mick Vipond was also sent off from the Berko bench.
With their ranks reduced, Berko set aside thoughts of winning the game and dug in. The Leverstock side were unable to make their numerical advantage tell over the closing minutes, with the Berko defence putting in a very determined display to ensure that Tasker did not have a serious save to make.
The two sides remain in 4th and 1st places respectively, although Berko’s lead at the top was reduced by Welwyn Garden City, who beat second-placed Harpenden Town to leapfrog them.
Next game for Leverstock is away to Wembley next Saturday.
|Leverstock Green||(1)||2||Bateman 34, Johnson 49|
|Team: 1. Matt Evans, 2. Alex Marsh (15. Reynaldo Carbon 78 mins), 3. Brima Johnson, 4. Shane Wood, 5. Liam McCrohan (14. Luke Nugent 90+5 mins), 6. Jack Wood, 7. Ross Adams, 8. Chris Marsh, 9. David Lawrence (12. Luke Marsh 71 mins), 10. Curtis Donaldson, 11. Matt Bateman. Sub not used: 16. Martin Garvey.|
|Berkhamsted||(2)||2||Farrelly 36, Campbell 38|
|Team: 1. Carl Tasker, 2. Jack Stevens, 3. Dan Weeks, 4. Max Farrelly, 5. Jon Munday, 6. Kyle Anthony, 7. Ashley Morrissey, 8. Steve Hawes, 9. Ashton Campbell, 10. Dan Jones, 11. Josh Chamberlain. Subs used: 12. Josh Helmore, 14. Frankie Jowle, 15. Will Bisney. Not used: 16. Ashley Lewis, 17. Ben Bateman.|
|Leverstock Green Football Club|