Battling victory keeps title hopes alive for Leverstock Green Ladies Whites

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Leverstock Green Ladies Whites were given a stern test as they laboured to a 2-1 victory against Watton Ladies.

Leverstock had the chance to take the lead when Cally Salter was brought down in the penalty area, but sister Ellen missed the target with the resulting spot kick.

And Levy were made to pay for the miss just three minutes later as Watton took the lead.

Green toiled in the second half, but eventually netted a leveller through Pru Squires-Adams with only a few minutes left.

It was left to Frankie Novelli to earn the points two minutes later to keep Levy’s title challenge alive.

Having relocated to the Leverstock Green shops pitch, both sides had to contend with a playing surface in particularly poor condition. That, coupled with a strong wind, made the game very difficult, especially in the first half with the Whites kicking up the slope.

Such was the pressure imposed on the back line by Watton in the opening exchanges that it appeared only a matter of time before the defence would be breached and this forced Levy into an early positional change with Leigh Burrows being moved from the front line to the centre of defence.

Levy looked a threat on the counter-attack, with Ellen Salter being very effective down the left hand flank and giving the Watton right-back a hard time.

It was her pass to Cally Salter that saw a penalty awarded when Cally’s quick feet wrong-footed the defender and she was brought down in the penalty area for the easiest decision the referee had to make all day.

Ellen Salter stepped to take the penalty, but she didn’t catch it well and the ball went the wrong side of the left hand post.

Just three minutes later Levy were on the wrong end of a 1-0 scoreline when a near post effort went through Rebecca Fearnes-Purdue’s legs for a soft goal.

The remainder of the half saw Watton continue to compete across the pitch and with Levy battling the slope, the elements, and their own indifferent form, they were fortunate to get to half-time only 1-0 down.

But gradually the tide began to turn in the home side’s favour after the interval.

As the clock ticked down it seemed that the goal would never come, with Levy running out of ideas up front and too often balls from midfield being overplayed down the centre into the goalkeeper’s hands.

Eventually, when their title challenge looked to be over, Mia Hickey played a teasing ball through to Squires-Adams, who chased through on goal, saw her first effort partially smothered by the excellent goalkeeper, but kept her feet and composure sufficiently to poke home the loose ball from a couple of yards out.

Levy were revitalised and, from the kick-off, ran at Watton. Within two minutes, Anna Novelli played in Frankie Novelli down the right hand flank and she cut inside and dispatched a calm shot into the far corner of the goal for a hugely important second goal for the Whites.