(H) Edgware Town

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(H) Bovingdon

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(H) Kings Langley

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(H) Hadley

Leverstock Green extended their winning run to four games and moved up another place to 7th in the SSML Premier Division with a 4-2 win over Hadley at Pancake Lane on Tuesday night. Hadley had been the only team to have beaten Leverstock in the previous ten games, but there was no repeat of that night’s performance as the Green side turned in another excellent display for a win that was perhaps more comfortable than the scoreline suggests.

There was a scare in the opening minute when Hadley hit the post after a cross from the left wasn’t dealt with, but it was Leverstock who got the early goal. There was an element of fortune about it, as Chris Marsh floated in a cross from the left edge of the penalty area that was intended for David Lawrence, but the ball drifted off course and caught Hadley keeper Tom Le Tissier off his line, sailing over his hands into the net with just two minutes on the clock. Although Marsh has many assists this season, this was the first time he had found the net himself.

Liam McCrohan came closest to extending the Leverstock lead in the 24th minute when he got on the end of a Marsh corner with a header that was saved by Le Tissier, and two minutes later Lawrence hit a shot just wide. A somewhat harsh handball decision against Scott Bonner presented Hadley with a penalty five minutes before the break, and David Laird made no mistake from the spot to level the scores.

Leverstock went close to regaining the lead in the last minute of the half as Marsh played an exquisite ball through to Matt Bateman, but Bateman’s clipped effort came back off the post.

Four minutes into the second half Leverstock were back in front. A corner from Marsh was not dealt with by the Hadley defence, as Shane Wood firstly had a header at the far post that was blocked, and then lobbed the ball back across goal where Bateman came in to nod home from close range.

There could have been another goal within a minute as Chris Gosling’s pass put Adams through on goal, but a defender got back to block his shot. Hadley could have struck back on 62 minutes when the Green defence was caught out by Alfie Bartram’s ball from the back to put Jake King through, but he hurriedly hit his shot wide.

Three minutes later Leverstock were attacking again as Bateman had the ball and made a powerful run down to the bye-line before squaring for Ross Adams to finish from close range for a 3-1 lead, scoring in similar fashion to his goal in Saturday’s game.

On 72 minutes a well-worked goal made it 4-1 to Leverstock. Alex McCarthy started the move, finding Bateman who in turn fed Alex Marsh down the right. Marsh’s cross was missed by Adams, but the ball went to Bateman, who calmly turned and stroked home a shot from the edge of the box for his second of the night, taking his tally for the season into double figures from just 13 appearances. Casey Linsell should have made it five on 77 minutes but he headed over the bar from Lawrence’s cross.

The points looked safe, but with 8 minutes left Hadley were given a faint glimmer of hope when a challenge from Linsell resulted in the referee awarding another penalty, and Lewis Francis netted the spot kick to pull the score back to 4-2.

The referee hadn’t finished yet, awarding another penalty three minutes later, this time to Leverstock for handball in the box. Bateman stepped up to complete his hat-trick, but it was not to be as his spot-kick hit the bar and went over. With skipper Wood carrying an injury over the closing minutes the Green side were content to hang onto their two-goal lead and register another win.

Next up for Leverstock is a visit to fifth-placed Hoddesdon Town on Saturday.

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(H) Biggleswade F.C.

Leverstock Green continued their rise up the table as a 5-3 win over third-placed Biggleswade F.C. took them up to 8th in the SSML Premier Division. This impressive result was Leverstock’s seventh win from their last ten games and their third league win in a row.

Top scorer Matt Bateman was unavailable for this one, but with last season’s sixty-goal partnership of Curtis Donaldson and Jonathan Lacey starting, there was no shortage of firepower in the Green line-up. There was a near-miss in the opening minute when David Lawrence put the ball over the bar, and in the 5th minute Lacey played a one-two with Lawrence before having his shot saved by Daniel Green in the visitors’ goal. Green was in action again three minutes later when Ross Adams won the ball in a tackle and exchanged passes with Lacey to go clean through, but his shot was kept out by the keeper’s legs.

Leverstock were worth a goal and it duly arrived in the 10th minute. Chris Marsh played a pass to Lacey, who with defenders between him and the goal had plenty to do, but Lacey rode a couple of challenges before striking home a shot from the edge of the box to open the scoring.

At the other end three minutes later Leverstock keeper Reuben Rabstein did well to keep out a free kick from George Riley. Seconds later the Green were attacking again and Lacey was only denied by a last-ditch challenge. Leverstock doubled their lead in the 16th minute as Chris Marsh floated a free kick into the box, Lawrence headed the ball across goal and Shane Wood came in to shoot home the second goal. In the 23rd minute it became 3-0 as Wood hurled a long throw into the Biggleswade box, and the ball looped off the head of one of their defenders and over Green into their own net to put the Leverstock supporters in dreamland.

The visitors had been disappointing up to this stage but having gone 3-0 down they finally started to play like a team challenging for promotion. In the 29th minute Lee Northfield set up a clear shooting chance for Alex Marsh – one of two players on the field with that name – but Rabstein pulled off a good save. Six minutes later Marsh got on the end of a free kick from Riley with a header, but didn’t get a strong enough touch to divert it inside the far post.

Another long throw from Wood caused more chaos in the Biggleswade box in the 37th minute, but both Lawrence and Lacey had efforts blocked in the ensuing scramble. An unfortunate moment for Rabstein gifted the visitors a way back into the game five minutes into the break. Biggleswade skipper Adam Hunt floated a cross into the box, and Rabstein seemed unsure whether to catch it or punch it, and in the end did neither as he palmed the ball into his own net.

That goal gave the visitors some hope of a comeback going into the second half, and those hopes grew within thirty seconds of the restart as they pulled another goal back. A pass from Hunt found Tom Cookman on the edge of the box, and a slip by Wood left Cookman with the chance to shoot home and reduce the arrears to 3-2.

With left back Taishan Griffith causing a lot of problems down the Leverstock flank, the Green lead looked somewhat precarious for a while, however Wood and his defence soon got their solidity back and settled down. The Leverstock side regained a two-goal cushion in the 67th minute as Lacey pushed forward from the halfway line and exchanged passes with Adams before producing another great finish, turning a defender in the box before shooting home the fourth Green goal.

Lacey went close to a hat-trick on 74 minutes when Donaldson set him up for a shot that deflected off a defender and hit the post before rebounding back into Green’s arms. Rabstein produced another great save to tip a shot from Justin Leavers over the bar a minute later. The action continued to go from end-to-end as a pass from Lawrence found Donaldson, whose shot was grabbed out of the air by Green.

Ten minutes from time the visitors went close again as Riley hit a free kick just over the bar, and two minutes later a cross from Griffith found Ryan Inskip, but he headed straight at Rabstein. Leverstock needed another goal to ensure the points, and it came in the 83rd minute. Alex McCarthy’s pass found Lacey out wide, and Lacey went on a great run to the bye-line before squaring for Adams to shoot home the fifth goal from close range.

Even then the scoring was not over as Marsh scored for Biggleswade in the 90th minute to pull the score back to 5-3, but that was as far as it went as Leverstock were soon celebrating the win over their biggest scalp so far on their run of form.

Leverstock are back in action on Tuesday night with a home game against Hadley – the only team to have beaten them in the last ten games.

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(H) Hemel Hempstead Town Red

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(H) London Tigers

Leverstock Green continued their run of good form with an impressive 3-0 win over London Tigers in Saturday’s SSML Premier Division fixture at Pancake Lane. The margin of victory could have been greater with a number of good chances being missed, but three points and a clean sheet marked a very good return for the afternoon.

It was almost a dream start for Leverstock as they went close to opening the scoring with just a minute on the clock. A short kick from the Tigers keeper was returned back towards goal into the path of Matt Bateman, who was clean through, but hit his shot just over the bar. There was another near miss in the 8th minute as Alex Marsh dispossessed defender Naim Bashir near the right touchline and spotted that the keeper was off his line, but Marsh’s lob landed just wide of the goal. It had been mostly one-way traffic for the opening ten minutes, but in the 12th minute the visitors gave notice of their threat when an overhead pass from Joel Ramos gave Sebastien Philogene a run at goal. Philogene got past Liam McCrohan, but skipper Shane Wood came across to sweep up the danger and clear the ball.

Leverstock got their deserved opening goal in the 15th minute. A fine pass from McCrohan put Ross Adams in behind the defence, and Adams produced a great finish from a narrow angle to beat the keeper and find the back of the net.

The Green side were playing some excellent passing football with man-of-the-match Alex McCarthy at the heart of it. In the 19th minute when Scott Bonner played the ball out of defence to Bateman, who ran on before squaring for David Lawrence, whose shot was saved by the keeper. There was another good move a minute later when Chris Gosling’s pass put Bateman away down the right, and Gosling continued his run to get on the end of Bateman’s eventual cross, but his shot went wide.

Leverstock were worth at least a two-goal lead and they added the second in the 23rd minute, a quick counter-attack from a corner that was unnecessarily given away. Brima Johnson’s pass from the edge of his own box found Bateman on the halfway line. A quick turn from Bateman gave him a half-yard start over the Tigers defence, and Bateman continued to hold off the chasing defenders all the way before shooting home confidently from the edge of the box.

Both Adams and Bateman hit shots over the bar as Leverstock continued to create chances over the rest of the half. The Tigers manager clearly wasn’t impressed with his side’s performance, and took the unusual step of making a double substitution five minutes before half time, with a further change being made at half time.

The changes didn’t make a huge difference to the Tigers side, as Leverstock’s lead looked in little danger during the second half. The only save that Green keeper Reuben Rabstein had to make was from a shot by Nicolae Breazu on 62 minutes.There should have been a third Leverstock goal four minutes later when Bateman squared to set up a great chance for Lawrence, but he put it just over the bar from ten yards out.

The third Green goal eventually arrived ten minutes from time. Bateman played a great pass to put Adams through on goal, but the keeper came off his line to tackle Adams on the edge of the box. The loose ball was gobbled up by Jonathan Lacey, who passed the ball into the empty net for the goal that made absolutely sure of the points.

The result moves Leverstock up to 12th in the table. Since gaining no points from their opening four games, the Green side has won 5, drawn 2 and lost 1 of the next eight games and will look to continue their form next Saturday when they travel to St Margaretsbury.

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