Hat-trick hero Bircham inspires Levy Green to victory over Stotfold

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Louis Bircham scored a hat-trick as Leverstock Green ended their run of defeats with a 5-2 league win over Stotfold on Tuesday night.

The Green side pulled out an excellent second half display to turn round a half-time deficit, and the hero was Bircham with a hat-trick and two assists.

It was the first game in two weeks for the first team, and the squad is still suffering from injuries, but it has given some of the players from the reserves a chance to step up and claim a place.

One of those, Scott Melville, was involved in the third minute as he broke forward from the halfway line before laying off to Bircham, whose chipped cross to the far post was just over the head of Callum Wright.

The visitors were somewhat unlucky as they struck the woodwork twice within the space of five minutes.

In the seventh minute, Sean Herr got on the end of a free-kick with a header that rattled the crossbar, and in the 12th minute Herr ran into the box from a narrow angle and struck a shot which hit the post.

It was Leverstock who opened the scoring, though, from an 18th minute free-kick. Stotfold keeper Adam Harpur, who didn’t have the best of games, couldn’t hold onto Wright’s shot, and Bircham followed up to net the loose ball.

However, two penalties in five minutes put the visitors on top. In the 21st minute Herr was brought down by a Green defender inside the box, and Jaiden Irish sent Kieran Jimmy the wrong way from the spot.

On 25 minutes another rash challenge brought down Kier Boyd. This time Mark Ellis stepped up to take the penalty and stuck it away equally confidently.

Given recent results, this could have been the cue for another collapse, but the Green side stuck to their task and fought back.

They were still trailing 2-1 at the break, but the second half saw a fine comeback as Leverstock attacked down the slope.

The equaliser came in the 55th minute. A great ball from Wright put David Sobers in, and Sobers got the ball past the oncoming Harpur, where Bircham came in to apply the finishing touch into the empty net.

Five minutes later a long kick from Jimmy put Bircham in behind the defence. Harpur should have saved Bircham’s shot, but again he couldn’t hold onto it and Sobers followed up to force home the rebound and put the Green ahead at 3-2.

Wright was agonisingly close to adding the fourth in the 68th minute as he struck the post with a curling free-kick, but a minute later another long kick from Jimmy put Bircham in again and he completed his hat-trick with a shot that had Harpur diving the wrong way for a 4-2 lead.

Bircham wasn’t finished yet, as in the 85th minute he beat Harpur to the ball and took it around the keeper before pulling it back for Dene Gardner to shoot home the fifth goal – a crucial one as it meant that Leverstock went above their opponents on goal difference in the SSML Premier Division table.

This result should be a huge boost of confidence for the Leverstock side, and they will hope to follow it up with three more points when they travel to London Tigers on Saturday.