Leverstock Green suffered their second cup exit in a week as Hoddesdon Town put five goals past them, all in the second half, in Tuesday night’s Challenge Trophy second round tie at Lowfield. After a good first half display from the Green side, Hoddesdon found the target with some fine long-range strikes which turned the match firmly in their favour.
Leverstock had the better of the chances in the first half. In the 10th minute a pass from Luke Preedy put Ross Adams through on goal, but a too-heavy first touch saw the ball run through to home keeper Harry Isham. Two minutes later Chris Marsh threaded a pass through to Matt Bateman, but his shot went across goal and wide. In the 15th minute Bateman was through again and took the ball round Isham, but with an empty net to slot the ball into he pulled his shot wide. Hoddesdon’s best effort of the first half was a shot from Tom Cowell which brought a good save out of Green keeper Charlie Hoskins in the 28th minute.
There was another promising moment for Leverstock in the opening minute of the second half as a cross from Adams took a deflection and forced Isham into an acrobatic save to keep it out. However, four minutes into the half, it was Hoddesdon who broke the deadlock, as the loose ball from a challenge inside the penalty area ran into the path of Harry Bushell, who met it with a rasping strike from the edge of the box that gave Hoskins no chance.
Leverstock were still in the game at this stage. Brima Johnson twice went close to an equaliser, firstly in the 51st minute shooting wide after an interchange with Bateman, and then two minutes later when another deflected cross brought another acrobatic save out of Isham. However, seconds later Hoddesdon were at the other end, and a cross from the left was met with an unchallenged glancing header inside the six-yard box from Louis Rose to double their lead.
The game was put out of Leverstock’s reach by two more long-range strikes in the 66th and 70th minutes, both from Tom Cowell. The first was a rasping drive through a crowd of players after a corner had been cleared to the edge of the box, the second a shot which took a deflection and looped over Hoskins into the net.
The one bright point of the game was the return from injury of Casey Linsell, who came on as a substitute in the second half. There might have been a consolation goal on 76 minutes when a shot from Bateman wasn’t held by Isham, but a defender came in to the clear the loose ball just ahead of Linsell. Kyle Johnson swept home a fifth goal in the 79th minute against a Green side that by now was looking dispirited, but that was the end of the scoring.
Leverstock Green’s five-match winning run came to an end at Hoddesdon Town in Saturday afternoon’s SSML Premier Division fixture. Two first half goals were enough for Hoddesdon to continue their own winning run and condemn Scott Dash’s side to their seventh league defeat of the season.
Leverstock started the match brightly and could have gone in front in the 5th minute. A great ball from George Biggadike gave Jonathan Lacey a run at goal. Lacey’s shot was blocked, but the rebound fell to Karl Davidson, who steered the ball wide of the goal. Lacey was through again in the 10th minute from a Zak Howells pass, but home keeper Harry Smart did well to dive at Lacey’s feet and claim the ball.
Within a minute Leverstock were behind after Davidson had been caught in possession in his own half. Matty Turpin played the ball through to George Hunt, who squared across goal for Jordan Watson to score from close range.
Leverstock had to make a change in the 31st minute as Shane Wood, who himself hadn’t been considered fit enough to start the game, replaced the injured George Biggadike. Hoddesdon were waiting to take a corner as the substitution was made, and when the corner was taken Joss Lillis slotted the ball home at the near post to put Hoddesdon into a 2-0 lead.
The game was still evenly-contested and continued to be in the second half. In the 53rd minute Liam Jahn had to tip a shot from Jason Brown over the bar after several chances to clear the ball had been missed. A goal would have put Leverstock back into the match, and they came very close to that on 62 minutes. Lacey started the move before Ben Darby took over and played a great pass to put Davidson through. From a narrow angle Davidson put the ball across goal where Curtis Donaldson came in with a diving header but didn’t quite get enough of a contact on it to divert the ball inside the post.
That proved to be Leverstock’s best chance of the game, and in the closing minutes it was Hoddesdon who looked more like adding to their lead as they created a number of good chances, but some good saves from Jahn ensured that the score remained at 2-0.
Next Saturday Leverstock host Welwyn Garden City in an all-SSML tie in the second round of the Buildbase FA Vase.