Leverstock Green came away with nothing from an excellent performance as two late goals saw them beaten 3-0 at Welwyn Garden City.
It was an evenly-fought match from the start, reflected in a first half in which there were few clear chances for either side. Welwyn took the lead from a corner in the 14th minute when Jason Caswell lost his marker to thump home an emphatic header.
Curtis Donaldson hit Leverstock’s first effort on target in the 35th minute, which was comfortably gathered by Welwyn keeper Joe Croft, and four minutes later Louis Bircham struck a free-kick just wide.
The second half saw a more open game, and Leverstock had the ball in the net a minute after the restart. Good work from Bircham set up Donaldson to hit a shot from the edge of the box which Croft did well to get down to and parry away.
Reece McArthur netted the rebound, but was correctly flagged offside.
There was another near miss in the 70th minute when Bircham got on the end of a cross from Donaldson with a looping header that went just over the bar.
On 77 minutes a cross from Tommy Walsh was flicked on by Chris Blunden to Bircham, whose shot brought out another great save from Croft.
It was somewhat against the run of play when the home side added a second goal 10 minutes from time, a cross to the far post being met by a volley from substitute Bobby Dance, scoring on his debut.
Leverstock continued to push forward, though. Bircham came close to pulling a goal back immediately with another header that went just over the bar.
On 86 minutes Bircham went on a run forward before threading a pass through to Donaldson, whose shot brought out the best save of all from Croft. In the last minute Donaldson was inches wide with a free-kick.
Leverstock had switched to three at the back after going two down, and two minutes into stoppage time they were caught on the break which ended with Dance stooping to head home his second goal and Welwyn’s third.
It was a harsh result, but there were plenty of positives to take from the performance, not least the tireless running of the front three, particularly Donaldson.
The back four was generally solid, and Jordan I’Anson had a good game in his first appearance since August.
Injuries and misfortune have contributed to a run of five straight defeats in all competitions, but Levy manager Paul Faulkner will be looking to break that run with next Saturday’s home game against Wembley.
Welwyn Garden City: 1. Joe Croft, 2. Sam Perrin, 3. Jay Welsh, 4. Juan Cifuentes, 5. Jay Cowell, 6. John McGrandles (12. Craig Arnott 27 mins), 7. Josh Bronti, 8. Daryl Smith, 9. Jason Caswell (14. David Parkinson 78 mins), 10. Aaron Cato (16. Bobby Dance 66 mins), 11. Nathan Dimmock. Subs not used: 15. Reggie Ross, 17. Abel Mudimu.
Leverstock Green: 1. Jordan I’Anson, 2. Joe Horwood, 3. Gavin Smith, 4. Jack Halcomb, 5. James Budden, 6. Tommy Walsh (12. Lee Faulkner 81 mins), 7. Jack Gilmartin (14. Timi Salako 78 mins), 8. Reece McArthur (15. Dene Gardner 59 mins), 9. Louis Bircham, 10. Curtis Donaldson, 11. Chris Blunden.