Leverstock and St Margaretsbury share the spoils in see-saw encounter
Leverstock Green came back from 3-0 down at half-time to lead 4-3 at St Margaretsbury, but had to settle for a point after an injury time equaliser.
Paul Hunt’s side went into the game with regular keeper Liam Jahn suspended and regular centre-half Jack Watts unavailable.
Just as with last week’s game at Oxhey they got off to a slow start. Lee Roberts could have given St Margaretsbury the lead in the eighth minute when he was through, but his lob over Jack Bridges went wide.
Two minutes later, though, Adam Lawton was given too much space to run with the ball, and shot home the opening goal from the edge of the box.
It could have been 2-0 within a minute as Laurence Rispoli ran on to a pass from the right wing but Bridges turned the shot round the post with his legs.
The pressure from St Margaretsbury continued, and on 16 minutes a challenge from Joe Horwood brought down Courtney Clay inside the box, and Rispoli made it 2-0 from the penalty spot.
Leverstock improved as the half went on, but their only sight of the home goal came in the 33rd minute when a cross from Ryan Laville just eluded Ashley Addison at the near post.
Ollie Buckley kept Leverstock in the game with a headed goalline clearance from a free-kick on 37 minutes, but on the stroke of half-time St Margaretsbury had a second penalty when a challenge from Jack Copson brought down Lawton.
Rispoli again sent Bridges the wrong way from the spot to leave Leverstock with a mountain to climb at 3-0 down.
Dan Griggs replaced the injured Laville at half-time, and the reshaped Green side with Griggs on the left wing looked a completely different proposition in the second half.
They attacked from the off and had the home side under the cosh for 20 minutes, although without managing to get an effort on target.
The momentum change was important, though, and when Leverstock were finally given a way back into the game via the third penalty of the game, it proved the turning point.
The spot kick was awarded for handball against Jason Coughlan as a cross from the right struck his hand. Green skipper Curtis Donaldson netted the penalty to begin the comeback on 67 minutes.
Donaldson almost pulled another goal back a minute later, but his free-kick went just wide.
However, on 71 minutes Donaldson tried a speculative long-range effort, and home keeper Richard Hayward made a hash of what should have been a comfortable take, as the ball spun out of his hands and back over his head into the net to reduce the arrears to 3-2.
The relentless Leverstock pressure continued, and five minutes later a foul on Alex McCarthy just outside the box gave them a free-kick in a dangerous position.
Although Hayward got a hand to Donaldson’s superb shot, it still flew in off the post to give Donaldson his hat-trick and complete the comeback at 3-3.
The momentum was now all with Leverstock, and when a fine piece of build-up play resulted in Lewis Cruwys striking home a great shot from the edge of the box to put them 4-3 up with six minutes to play, it looked like they were heading for a huge three points.
However, St Margaretsbury kept going, and two minutes into stoppage time they won a free-kick inside the Leverstock half.
Hayward came up for the free-kick and crucially got a head to the ball. It looked as though Bridges had saved on the line, but the ball came out and went across the face of goal, where Lawton came in to net the equaliser.
Although it was disappointing to go so close to winning the game, the Leverstock followers would certainly have taken a point at half-time, and with all the sides below them losing, it can be seen as a point gained for both sides.
The second half performance will also be a big confidence booster for the Leverstock side as they go into a difficult game away to title-chasing London Colney on Tuesday night.
St Margaretsbury: 1. Richard Hayward, 2. Conor Clarke, 3. Jordan Gill, 4. Danny Charles (12. Ciaran Docherty 79 mins), 5. Michael Cooper, 6. Jason Coughlan, 7. Chris Webb, 8. Laurence Rispoli, 9. Courtney Clay, 10. Adam Lawton, 11. Lee Roberts (15. Wesley Hause 65 mins). Subs not used: 14. Aaron Crockett, 16. Jon Stevenson, 17. Paddy O’Brien.
Leverstock Green: 1. Jack Bridges, 2. Tommy Walsh, 3. Dan Bourne, 4. Ollie Buckley, 5. Joe Horwood, 6. Jack Copson, 7. Ashley Addison, 8. Alex McCarthy, 9. Lewis Cruwys, 10. Ryan Laville (12. Dan Griggs H/T), 11. Curtis Donaldson. Subs not used: 14. Dan Barnes, 15. Stefan Chiriac.