Leverstock Green added another three points to their total with a 4-1 win from an excellent performance at Oxhey Jets in Saturday’s SSML Premier Division game at the Boundary Stadium.
The Green side made a good start to the game and went close in the 3rd minute when Jonathan Lacey got a glancing header to Casey Linsell’s cross, but it drifted just wide of the far post. A minute later Lacey robbed Oxhey skipper Sim Armstrong and played a pass through to Nick Jackson, but Jackson put his effort across goal.
Having started the game so well, it was somewhat against the run of play when Oxhey took the lead in the fifth minute from their first attack. Two of their five former Green players combined to score, as Curtis Donaldson floated a free kick to the far post where Lewis Smith headed home in off the bar.
Leverstock went close to equalising within a minute as a shot from Lacey was turned round the post by home keeper Ryan Keeley, and three minutes later Jackson’s pass put Lacey through again, but again his shot was deflected wide of the post. Finally in the 13th minute Chris Marsh played a superb pass to put Jackson through on goal, and Jackson made no mistake this time, lifting the ball over Keeley for the deserved equaliser.
Oxhey had a good chance to go back in front three minutes later when a crossfield ball put Patru Marius-Cosmin through on goal, but Green keeper Matt Evans did well to save with his legs. In the 20th minute Donaldson played in another free kick which Lewis Smith got his head to again, but this time Evans saved.
Leverstock had another great chance in the 32nd minute. Jackson won the ball near the left touchline and threaded a pass through to Lacey, whose shot was blocked by Keeley. The rebound fell nicely for Brima Johnson six yards out but his sidefooted shot went inches wide of the post. Five minutes later Evans produced the save of the match as Donaldson hit a shot from long range which took a huge deflection, but Evans did very well to dive full-length and turn it onto the post. Evans made further saves in the last minute of the half from Elijah Seymour and Chris Blunden as an end-to-end half finished with the scores level at 1-1.
Three minutes into the second half Leverstock went in front for the first time. Chris Marsh floated in a free kick which Nick Jackson got his head to, and Jackson’s header took a looping trajectory into the very top corner of the net, out of Keeley’s reach for a 2-1 lead.
Oxhey came close to an equaliser a couple of times, with Donaldson heading over the bar from Seymour’s free kick on 55 minutes and Abhushan Part shooting inches wide two minutes later. However, Leverstock opened up a two-goal lead with the crucial third goal in the 64th minute. Jonathan Lacey went on a dazzling solo run, showing great footwook to take him past two defenders and into the box. Lacey’s shot was saved by Keeley, but substitute Luke Nugent was following up and slid in to net the rebound.
In the 78th minute Nugent returned the favour, playing a pass which set up Lacey to make another mazy run into the box, and this time he emphatically lashed a shot past Keeley for a superb fourth goal. Evans made another couple of saves in the closing minutes to preserve the three goal lead as Leverstock ran out convincing 4-1 winners.
There were several outstanding performances today, including Jackson and the returning Chris Gosling, but man-of-the-match went to Lacey.
Leverstock Green moved into the semi-finals of the St Mary’s Cup, where they will be at home to Tring Athletic on Tuesday 2nd May.
Goals from top scorers Curtis Donaldson and Jonathan Lacey were enough for a 2-1 win at Oxhey Jets, the winner coming in the last minute against a Jets side that had been reduced to ten men.
It’s now five games without a win for Leverstock Green, and they were denied even a point from Saturday’s trip to Oxhey Jets by the woodwork in the last second of the game, also missing a penalty along the way.
Oxhey had the game’s first near-miss in the 8th minute, with Liam Jahn having to turn a shot from former Green striker Chris Blunden round the post. Five minutes later Leverstock had their first chance when Danilson Vicente and Jonathan Lacey combined to put Curtis Donaldson through on goal, but his shot from a narrow angle went across goal and just wide of the far post.
Oxhey took the lead in the 18th minute with a goal that had an element of fortune about it as a shot from outside the box was blocked by a Green defender, but straight into the path of Patro Marius Cosmin, who had the goal at his mercy and shot home.
Leverstock had a great chance to level the scores four minutes later. A kick from Jahn was flicked on to Ross Adams, who ran into the box but was pushed over from behind by Bradley Thompson. The referee awarded the penalty, but Lacey’s spot kick was well saved by home keeper Rob Partington.
Oxhey went close again on 30 minutes, with another former Green striker John Smith curling a free kick just over the bar. A minute later at the other end a good ball from Luke Preedy found Donaldson, but his shot was saved by Partington. There was little to choose between the sides as half-time approached, but crucially in the last seconds of the half the home side put together a great move, ending with Andrew Ampah playing a one-two before shooting past Jahn for a 2-0 Oxhey lead at the break.
Jets were reduced to ten men just after the hour mark when Cosmin was shown a yellow card for dissent having already been booked, although given that Leverstock had twice in recent weeks lost to sides with ten men for half the game, this didn’t give the Green followers great cause for optimism.
However, on 70 minutes they were back in the game. Lacey chased a ball down towards the corner flag and delivered a great cross which found Donaldson, who brought it down and composed himself before firing past Partington to reduce the arrears to 2-1.
Oxhey twice went close to sealing the points, with Simeon Armstrong hitting the bar on 82 minutes, and Smith hitting the post four minutes later, but Leverstock had the chance to save the game in the 89th minute when Lacey was through, but took a little to long to get his shot away, allowing a defender to block it.
Jahn came up for a couple of corners during stoppage time, but couldn’t force an equaliser. In the third minute of stoppage time, with everyone up in the box, Donaldson floated in a free kick from distance. Partington failed to gather the ball, and Shane Wood got a touch on it, but agonisingly it hit the post and went wide. It proved to be the last touch of the game as the referee blew for full time.
Leverstock have seven games left to try to secure a top-half finish, with the next one being at home to Stotfold on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.30 pm.