(A) Welwyn Garden City

Leverstock Green exited the Herts Senior Cup at the first hurdle on Wednesday night as they went down 1-0 to an early goal at Welwyn Garden City.

It was the second game between the sides in four days, and another closely-fought game, but with fewer chances than the first game. Curtis Donaldson returned to the Green side after an injury-hit spell at Barton Rovers.

The deciding goal came with just over a minute on the clock. Josh Bronti supplied a superb cross from the right touchline, and Reggie Ross got above his marker to direct an unstoppable header past Green keeper Caolan Doyle-Creamer.

After a shaky start the Green side recovered to to create some chances. In the 16th minute a cross from Reynaldo Carbon just missed the head of Ross Adams. Donaldson got to the loose ball, but his first shot was blocked and his second was saved by Welwyn keeper Ben Watson. Adams hit a long-range shot just over the bar in the 20th minute, and a shot from Carbon brought a great save out of Watson on 41 minutes.

The game was still finely-poised at half time, and Leverstock went close again in the 59th minute when Liam McCrohan got on the end of a Chris Marsh cross with a header that hit the bar.

One of the factors in Leverstock’s recent revival has been the return to the side of Zak Howells after a metatarsal injury, but the unfortunate Howells looks set for another spell on the sidelines after sustaining another foot injury from a foul challenge with 20 minutes remaining.

Leverstock kept pushing for an equaliser, but weren’t able to create any more clear-cut chances. Welwyn looked set for a second goal in stoppage time as Doyle-Creamer was lobbed, but Scott Bonner got back to hack the ball off the line.

The Green now return to league action, with a home game against London Tigers on Saturday.

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(A) Welwyn Garden City

Leverstock Green were within seconds of ending Welwyn Garden City’s unbeaten league record, but they were denied by an equaliser in the third minute of stoppage time. Even so, the unanimous verdict around the Herns Lane ground seemed to be that Leverstock had deserved to win the game having given an excellent performance against a team that they had lost 6-0 to only three weeks earlier. It was the Green side’s first away point of the season.

Leverstock made a strong start to the game, and almost went in front in the 5th minute when Matt Bateman played a dangerous ball across the face of the six yard box which just eluded Chris Marsh sliding in at the far post. In the 13th minute Marsh played an excellent through pass from the halfway line which found Bateman on the edge of the box between two defenders. Bateman controlled the ball and got ahead of the defenders before slotting a confident shot past keeper Charlie May to put the Green 1-0 up.

In the 18th minute Bateman got on the end of a Marsh corner with a header that was blocked on the line. Towards the middle of the half the home side started to put more pressure on, winning a succession of corners, but not creating any real chances to trouble Caolan Doyle-Creamer in the Leverstock goal. At the other end Bateman was continuing to impress. In the 34th minute Bateman ran onto a quick throw from Alex Marsh and tried to beat May at his near post from a narrow angle, but his shot hit the post. Two minutes later a pass from Casey Linsell put Bateman in with a great chance, but May pulled off a good save with his legs. Leverstock were good value for their lead, but five minutes before half time Welwyn struck back as a ball from Dave Corran put Charlie Joy in behind the defence to shoot home the equaliser.

The second half continued in a similar vein, with Welwyn having marginally more of the ball but not creating much against a disciplined and determined Green defence marshalled by Shane Wood, while Leverstock looked dangerous on the break. A rare mistake at the back allowed Ash Kersey a shot on the hour, but Doyle-Creamer saved.

Jonathan Lacey, whose appearances are limited now due to college commitments, came on early in the second half to replace the injured Chris Marsh, and a corner from Lacey in the 72nd minute found Bateman with a header that went just over the bar. Three minutes later a pass from Bateman put Lacey clean through on May, but although his shot beat May, it went agonisingly inches wide.

That miss might have proved costly, but Leverstock were still able to get back into the lead with a goal in the 79th minute. Zak Howells’ ball out of defence found Alex Marsh in acres of space down the right. Marsh continued his run before playing a superb low ball into the penalty area. Bateman was coming in at the far post, but it never got to him as Welwyn defender Jay Rolfe got there first and turned it into his own net for a 2-1 Green lead.

It might have been 3-1 two minutes later as Chris Gosling and Luke Nugent combined to set up a chance, but Nugent’s shot was saved and neither of them were able to put the rebound away. Leverstock still held their slender lead going into stoppage time, and looked capable of holding out, but three minutes into stoppage time a strike from the edge of the box out of the blue levelled the scores. Appropriately enough the scorer was Rolfe, who atoned for his earlier own goal with the shot that rescued a point for his side. The final whistle went soon after the restart, showing just close Leverstock had come to the win.

The two sides do it all over again on Wednesday night, again at Herns Lane in the first round of the Herts Senior Cup.

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(A) Welwyn Garden City

A severely depleted Leverstock Green side fell to another defeat in Saturday’s SSML Premier Division game at Herns Lane. Scott Dash was without even a recognised goalkeeper for this game, with midfielder Luke Preedy taking his place between the sticks as a makeshift keeper.

The Leverstock side was caught cold by a goal inside 30 seconds of the kick-off. A long throw was hurled into the box and flicked on, and with none of the defence dealing with the danger, there was an easy tap-in for Sean Brettell from a yard out.

Welwyn had the ball in the net for a second time in the 19th minute from a free kick, but it was ruled out for offside. Zak Howells was booked for the foul which give away the free kick, and was lucky to stay on the field after another tackle in the 28th minute that could also have been yellow-carded.

By this time the Leverstock side had settled down after a shaky start, with Preedy beginning to look more confident. There should have been an equaliser in the 36th minute when Jonathan Lacey floated a free kick across the face of goal, but Curtis Donaldson didn’t get quite enough of a touch on his header to divert it inside the post. Two minutes later Lacey exchanged passes with David Lawrence before his shot was saved by the feet of keeper Jack Metcalfe. There was a third chance on 42 minutes when Lacey put the ball over the bar from Lawrence’s cross.

Leverstock were still very much in the game as the second half started, and in the opening minute Metcalfe had to produce another save from a long range effort by Lewis Davis. Welwyn had the chance to increase their lead in the 62nd minute when Kendall Allen was harshly penalised for handling the ball inside the box while lying on the ground, however Josh Bronti’s spot kick was superbly tipped over the bar by Preedy.

Leverstock’s best chance of an equaliser came in the 79th minute when a Donaldson free kick was parried by Metcalfe. Davis came in for the rebound but lifted the ball over the bar from six yards out with the Welwyn defence shouting for an offside flag that never came.

Welwyn had put plenty of pressure on the Leverstock goal during the match, although had few efforts on target to show for it. They finally sealed the points with a goal in the first minute of stoppage time, as Ash Kersey lashed the ball into the roof of the net from a narrow angle.

The goals seem to have temporarily dried up for the Green side, with last Saturday’s two at London Colney being their only strikes in the last four games. They will hope to get back on track next Saturday when they visit Oxhey Jets.

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