Leverstock Green battle back for a vital three points against Cockfosters

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Leverstock Green moved three points closer to safety as they came back from 2-0 down at half-time to beat Cockfosters 3-2 with a late winner from Lee Gardner.

Green manager Dene Gardner went into the match with several players unavailable, and the first half performance of his side was somewhat disappointing. Gareth Long had a shot turned into the side netting in the seventh minute, but it was the visitors who looked most likely to score, attacking with pace and in numbers down the slope.

Their first goal, however, came from a corner after 22 minytes - the third goal Leverstock had conceded from a corner in two games.

A shot from the far side of the six-yard box was parried by Kieron Jimmy, but Craig McKay followed up to lash home the rebound.

Worse was to come after 33 minutes when the Green defence couldn’t clear the ball from the edge of their box, and Adem Ali pounced to fire home a shot.

The second half, however, saw a considerable improvement from the Green side.

Chad Pinching had hit a shot just wide and Liam Hind had an effort turned wide by the keeper before the goal that brought Leverstock back into the match after 62 minutes.

Hind pushed the ball forward to Shakir Agada, whose shot was blocked on the edge of the box, but Pinching pounced on the loose ball and slipped it past the keeper, only to see his effort come back off the post. However, Pinching followed up his own rebound to tap into the empty net.

Three minutes later, Pinching showed his instinct for goals again as he won the ball inside the box from a corner, and instantly darted into space before hitting a fierce shot that took a deflection off a defender, sending the keeper the wrong way as the ball flew into the net for the equaliser.

The game might have gone either way from there. Cockfosters should have done better from a ball that was driven across the face of goal from the bye-line and missed everybody.

In the end it was Leverstock that snatched the winning goal in the 86th minute. Dan Lake swung the ball into the six yard box and Gardner - who was playing for the opposition when the two sides met back in September- came in to thump home an unstoppable header.

As the game went into stoppage time, the referee started to lose control, and Cockfosters finished up with nine men.

First to go was skipper Richard Morton for kicking out at a Green player near the corner flag, followed two minutes later by Vince Rispoli, who received a yellow card for a foul and a second yellow for kicking the ball away in response.

The three points moved Leverstock 16 points clear of the drop zone, and they have the chance to put even more space between themselves and the bottom two as they face both of them in their next two games.

On Saturday they make the short trip to Vauxhall Road to face London Lions, and on Tuesday night they travel to Hatfield Town.