Green get the better of bogey side Berko in high scoring Dacorum derby

First for sport
First for sport

Leverstock Green started the SSML Premier Division season with three points as they claimed their first ever win over Berkhamsted.

This was a close game played in sweltering conditions, but Levy just managed to hold out in a tense finish to claim the points in a 3-2 win.

The visitors had the first near miss in the third minute, when a free-kick from Adam Mead took a deflection but went just wide.

Leverstock’s first attempt on goal was a shot over the bar from Louis Bircham in the seventh minute. A minute later at the other end, Dan Weeks slid in to meet a cross from Daniel Edwards, but put the ball over the bar.

In the 14th minute Berko gave the ball away in their own half and Chris Blunden was put through on goal, but former Green keeper Carl Tasker made a great save to turn the ball round the post.

Ten minutes later, Mead missed a good chance for Berko after Jordan I’Anson was caught out a bouncing ball, but four minutes later I’Anson made a good save to keep out a long-range effort from Max Farrelly.

The scoring was opened in the 37th minute, and it was Berkhamsted who broke the deadlock as George Carbery was found in space inside the box and took his chance well, slotting the ball past I’Anson.

However, their lead only lasted four minutes. Berko were again guilty of giving the ball away in their own half, and Lee Faulkner took advantage to put Blunden through, and he drilled the ball home into the bottom corner from the edge of the box for the equaliser.

Tommy Walsh had a good chance to put Leverstock in front before the break, but shot wide from six yards out.

The second half continued to be a good battle, and it was Leverstock who scored the next goal in the 57th minute. Bircham exchanged passes with Blunden before shooting home from the edge of the box for a 2-1 lead against the side with which he spent a short spell last season.

Berko could have equalised three minutes later when a through-ball flicked off the head of a Green defender, allowing Bradley O’Donovan to put Carbery through on goal, but he shot wide.

As the half wore on Leverstock began to drop deeper and were having trouble keeping hold of the ball, making for some nervous moments in and around the box as Berkhamsted piled forward.

However, three minutes from time they had a chance to settle their nerves. Walsh hit a shot from outside the box that was heading well over the bar, but Ed Canham inexplicably raised his arm above his head to block the ball. The referee wasted no time in awarding the penalty, and Bircham stuck it away to put Leverstock into what looked like a comfortable 3-1 lead.

A minute later, though, Berko were back in the game when Leverstock couldn’t clear their lines and Jay Caines forced the ball home in a goalmouth scramble to reduce the arrears to 3-2.

They almost rescued a point in stoppage time when Hawes hit a great long range effort but I’Anson dived to turn it round the post.

In the end Leverstock held out through four minutes of stoppage time to claim the win. It was a good performance all round, particularly at the back where James Budden was immense.

Leverstock were due to visit Bedford on Tuesday night for their second league game, but that game has been postponed due to the hosts’ facilities not being ready.

They will have to wait until next Saturday for their next action, when they face another Dacorum derby, visiting Tring Athletic in the FA Cup Extra Preliminary Round.

Leverstock Green: 1. Jordan I’Anson, 2. Julian Smith, 3. Joe Horwood, 4. Gavin Smith, 5. James Budden, 6. Lee Faulkner, 7. Tommy Walsh, 8. Timi Salako (16. Jack Gilmartin 64 mins), 9. Louis Bircham, 10. Chris Blunden (12. Billy Smith 73 mins), 11. Callum Wright (17. Luke Preedy 85 mins). Subs not used: 14. Damien Cruickshank, 15. Bertie Squires-Adams.

Berkhamsted: 1. Carl Tasker, 2. Daniel Edwards, 3. Jim Baldry (16. Aaron Nash-Barker 75 mins), 4. Lewis Rodrigoe, 5. Ed Canham, 6. Dan Weeks, 7. Max Farrelly, 8. Steve Hawes, 9. Bradley O’Donovan (12. Alex Foster 83 mins), 10. Adam Mead (15. Jay Caines 62 mins), 11. George Carbery.