Green just miss a top-half finish
Leverstock Green missed out on a top-half finish in the SSML Premier Division after spurning a host of chances in Saturday's 2-1 home defeat to Crawley Green.
It was their second match in four days after Leverstock had extended their unbeaten run to seven games with a 1-1 draw in Wednesday night’s Premier fixture at Hadley, in which Jonathan Lacey scored his 30th goal of the season.
Lacey took away five trophies from the club’s awards night on Saturday evening, including a clean sweep of all the first-team awards.
Earlier in the day, missed chances proved costly against 12th-placed Crawley.
Leverstock only had to avoid defeat to secure their first top-half finish for five years, but they spurned countless chances in an extraordinary match which was anything but a tame end-of-season affair.
It was an open game from the outset, with the visitors having their first chance in the second minute, Tom Barnet having a shot saved by Liam Jahn in a goalmouth scramble following a corner.
A minute later at the other end, Leverstock went close when Casey Linsell delivered a cross from the left touchline and Danilson Vicente got to it ahead of keeper Charlie Yates, but headed wide.
That was Vicente’s first missed chance of the day, but not his last.
In the eighth minute a pass from Karl Davidson put Vicente through on goal, but he shot over.
Three minutes later Crawley took the lead from another scramble after a corner, Mark Smith putting the ball in.
In the 17th minute Curtis Donaldson found Lacey, who threaded a pass to Zak Howells, but he shot into the side netting.
Jahn then did well to parry away a shot from Ashton Grant and minutes later pulled off a great save with his legs from a Crawley break away.
Seconds later at the other end, a pass from Davidson put Vicente through again, but his attempted lob wasn’t quite high enough and the keeper plucked it out of the air.
On 26 minutes Lacey and Donaldson combined to put Vicente through yet again, but Crawley keeper Charlie Yates turned his shot wide.
In the 34th minute Crawley hit the post, and seconds later at the other end Vicente was through again and took the ball round Yates, but his shot across goal went wide.
On 36 minutes Vicente finally put the ball in the net as he headed home a cross, but was flagged for offside.
A free-kick from Donaldson was headed across goal by Karl Thomas, but Jake Williamson shot over from six yards.
Still the chances came at both ends, with Jahn saving a shot from Charlie Clayton, and Coughlan missing a sitter for the visitors from a free-kick.
In the last minute of the half Davidson went on a solo run into the box but his shot was turned round the post.
The second-half saw no let up, although the vast majority of chances fell to Leverstock.
In the opening minute of the half, a pass from David Serinolli put Vicente through. This time he knocked the ball past Yates, but was brought down by the keeper. The referee awarded a penalty, and Leverstock equalised when Donaldson slotted home the penalty in the 47th minute.
There should have been another goal a minute later as Davidson got on the end of a Lacey cross, but he shot over.
On 55 minutes a pass from Lacey gave Vicente another chance but his shot was blocked wide.
Three minutes later a pass from Linsell gave Lacey a run at goal himself, but even Leverstock’s top scorer was denied by a save from Yates.
Another chance went begging on 63 minutes when Williamson headed over from a corner and five minutes after Davidson’s head got on the end of a Donaldson corner, but it was cleared off the line.
Having missed so many chances, it was almost inevitable that Leverstock would pay the price, and in the 83rd minute Crawley scored a breakaway goal with Clayton put through the middle to slot it past Jahn.
Even then, Leverstock had a chance to save the game in stoppage time as a pass from Lacey put Lewis Davis in to hit a shot-cum-cross which found Vicente at the far post, but his header went over the bar.
The result means Leverstock finished two points below their opponents in 12th.
They still had the opportunity to get something out of what has been a good season overall as they were due to host Tring Athletic in the semi-final of the St Mary’s Cup last night ( Tuesday).
n Lacey took away five trophies from the club’s Awards Night on Saturday evening, which followed on from the Crawley game.
Mark Goodson presented the under-18s awards.
Players’ Player: Louis Smith; Manager’s Player: Justas Barciauskas; Supporters’ Player: David Serinolli; Top Scorer: Jonathan Lacey.
Scott Dash then presented the first-team awards.
Players’ Player: Jonathan Lacey; Top Scorer: Jonathan Lacey; Supporters’ Player: Jonathan Lacey; Manager’s Player: Jonathan Lacey.
The Chairman’s Award went to Graham Smart.