(A) St Margaretsbury

Leverstock Green moved into the top half of the SSML Premier Division table as they registered their first away league win of the season in Saturday’s game at St Margaretsbury. The 4-2 win continued their great run of form which has seen them win six and draw two of their last nine league games.

It was something of a game of two halves, though, with a stirring second half display making up for an insipid first half performance. During the first half, the Leverstock side’s passing was poor and they were caught offside far too many times. They barely registered one effort on goal and didn’t win their first corner of the game until stoppage time. The home side deservedly led at half time through a goal scored in the 24th minute. Ryan Wade’s free kick hit the wall and rebounded across goal, and nobody picked up Daniel Ungudi, who gathered the loose ball and shot past Reuben Rabstein. It was the only effort on target by either side in the half.

St Margaretsbury could have extended their lead four minutes into the second half. Another Wade free kick was saved by Rabstein, but he couldn’t hold onto the ball, and in the ensuing scramble a very good chance was put over the bar. That proved to be a turning point as Leverstock had levelled the scores within a minute. Curtis Donaldson’s precision pass put Matt Bateman in behind the last defender, and Bateman did the rest, running on to slot the ball past keeper Adam Seymour for the equaliser.

Jonathan Lacey came off the bench to replace Scott Bonner and the Green side’s performance went up a gear. Bateman should have had a second on 55 minutes when he intercepted a short back pass, but instead of finishing himself he chose to square the ball and put it behind Shane Wood. Leverstock had a good shout for a penalty turned down in the 62nd minute when Bateman was upended in the box by a tackle from Jon Stevenson, but it didn’t matter as Chris Marsh swung over the resulting corner and Bateman connected with a thumping header to put the Green 2-1 up.

The chances kept on coming for Leverstock. On 67 minutes David Lawrence played a great crossfield ball to Lacey, who ran at goal before hitting a shot that was parried away by Seymour. Lawrence had followed in and slid in for the loose ball, but put it just over the bar. A minute later a shot from Donaldson was well-saved by Seymour down by the post. Bateman followed in for the rebound, but Seymour got up and made a great save with his legs, not knowing that Bateman had been flagged offside.

The third goal came in the 70th minute. Alex Marsh was put through on goal and looked set to score, but Seymour got a hand to his shot and slowed its progress towards the line. The ball might have gone on to trickle over the line, but Lacey followed in to make sure it got there.

In the 82nd minute Lacey had another run at goal before crossing to Reynaldo Carbon, whose shot was tipped over the bar by Seymour. At the other end five minutes later Rabstein produced a great save to tip another Wade free kick over the bar and preserve his side’s two-goal lead. A minute from time Lacey was threatening on the edge of the box again, hitting a shot across goal which Seymour could only parry away, and Carbon followed in to drill the rebound home for the fourth Leverstock goal.

Rabstein made another good save early in stoppage time, but was beaten in the second minute of stoppage time as Luke Provenzano headed home a free kick to pull the score back to 4-2. St Margaretsbury were threatening to pull another goal back after the restart, but a couple of great blocks from Shane Wood kept them out until the referee finally blew for time.

Man of the match, as nominated by Keith Pym, was Shane Wood.

Next Saturday Leverstock are at home to third-placed Biggleswade F.C.

vs

(A) St Margaretsbury

Leverstock Green earned another impressive three points away from home and completed a league double over St Margaretsbury, but they had to do it the hard way in an incident-packed match, finishing the game with nine men after a shockingly poor refereeing decision cost them two players.

Scott Dash again only had 13 players in his squad today, with Ben Darby now added to the long-term injury list, but they made the best possible start to the match. Tremayne Charles crossed for Jonathan Lacey to head the Green into a 1-0 lead with just 19 seconds on the clock.

The home side levelled the scores in the 12th minute from a free kick awarded just outside the box. Kendall Allen slid in to block Ryan Wade’s effort, but sent the ball spinning back towards Liam Jahn, who kept it out but couldn’t prevent Attila Korsaveczki from following up to bundle home the loose ball.

Two minutes later Jahn was the first, but certainly not the last to go into the referee’s notebook after he was adjudged to have brought down a St Margaretsbury forward just outside the box, although he didn’t appear to have touched the player at all. Wade took the free kick again but Jahn pulled off a great save to tip it over the bar.

Leverstock continued to create chances. On 20 minutes Casey Linsell curled a free kick over the bar. Three minutes later a shot from Charles was turned round the post by home keeper Adam Seymour, and from the resulting corner Lewis Bowers shot wide. On 27 minutes Charles headed over the bar from a Lacey corner, while at the other end a minute later Korsaveczki blocked a clearance on the halfway line to go clean through, but his eventual shot was across goal and wide. The flurry of chances continued with a backwards header from Jack Watts going just over the bar from Linsell’s free kick.

On 35 minutes Leverstock had the chance to restore their lead when a mistimed tackle from home defender Jordan Gill brought down Charles inside the box. Lacey stepped up to take the penalty, but didn’t hit it at all well, and Seymour dived to his right to save. Leverstock should have had another penalty on the stroke of half time when Danilson Vicente flicked the ball over Seymour and was clearly pulled back by the keeper as he tried to run past, but the referee blew for half time before any argument ensued.

Leverstock’s start to the second half was just as impressive as the first half. Tremayne Charles delivered another superb cross from the right touchline, and Lacey came in to bury another powerful header to put the Green 2-1 up just a minute and 20 seconds after the restart. Jack Watts could have added a third two minutes later but put the ball over the bar from close range from Lacey’s free kick.

Watts was next to see a yellow card for a foul on Korsaveczki that gave St Margaretsbury another free kick in a dangerous position on 58 minutes, but Wade blasted it over the bar. Five minutes later Bowers missed a great chance to put Leverstock 3-1 up as he had the goal at his mercy from a yard out, but didn’t hit it properly, allowing Michael Cooper to clear off the line.

The third goal eventually arrived on 67 minutes. Lacey played a corner low into the six-yard box, George Biggadike flicked it on and Danilson Vicente put the ball over the line. However, two minutes later St Margaretsbury pulled one back as Wade hit another free kick which just crept in inside the post.

Wade went close again on 77 minutes with a shot after playing a one-two, and two minutes later Reynaldo Carbon headed just over the bar from a Lacey corner.

With ten minutes to go the game was heading for an exciting finish. Korsaveczki looked set to score again as he lobbed the ball over Jahn and followed it in, but Watts had other ideas and slid in to cleanly and clearly win the ball in a manner that brought applause from around the ground, but unbelievably a whistle for a penalty from the referee.

It was a decision that brought disbelief from both sides. Aside from having the penalty awarded against him, Watts also received a second yellow card and a red one. In the ensuing furore as the Leverstock players tried unsuccessfully to persuade the referee to consult his linesman, Karl Thomas was also shown a straight red card. When the dust had finally settled, Ryan Wade stepped up to take the penalty, but Jahn pulled off a brilliant save to keep it out, and then recovered to pull off an even more impressive save from a follow-up effort.

Leverstock’s remaining nine men now had seven minutes plus stoppages to hang on for the win. Jahn saved again with his boot to keep out a shot from Harley Haag in the first minute of stoppage time. Deeper into stoppage time they had a chance to seal it with a fourth as Charles broke away and played a one-two with Carbon, but his shot was saved by Seymour, and Charles also received a yellow card for his troubles as he legitimately followed in when Seymour didn’t hang onto the ball at the first attempt.

Over six minutes of stoppage time had been played when the referee finally blew the one whistle that the Leverstock side wanted to hear, and they could celebrate a very hard-earned win against a good side, albeit still tinged with anger at the way they had lost two of their players.

Next up for Leverstock is a home game against Stotfold on Tuesday night, kick-off 7.30 pm.

vs