Leverstock Green battle back to thrash Hoddesdon Town

Callum Wright in action for Leverstock Green. Picture (c) Alan Lee
Callum Wright in action for Leverstock Green. Picture (c) Alan Lee
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Louis Bircham scored a hat-trick as Leverstock Green came back from 2-0 down to beat Hoddesdon Town 5-2 in Saturday’s SSML Premier Division game at Pancake Lane.

Leverstock started the game well, and had a good chance in the 11th minute when Callum Wright turned in the box and put the ball across the face of goal, but nobody could get on the end of it.

It was somewhat against the run of play when Hoddesdon took the lead in the 27th minute, Daniel Udoh breaking through to slot the ball past Dan McNicholas.

However, the visitors then took control of the game, and almost added a second in the 38th minutes when Udoh was put through again, but McNicholas saved well with his legs.

Hoddesdon did get their second goal in the 43rd minute, when a ball across the box found Aaron Crockett all alone with time and space to shoot home.

Crucially, however, Leverstock pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time.

A free-kick into the box was not cleared, and Louis Bircham found the composure to hit an angled shot from six yards into the corner of the net.

There was little sign of what was to come in the early stages of the second half, with Hoddesdon looking more likely to add to their lead, only being denied by good work from McNicholas.

The turning point came midway through the half when a quick turn from Bircham inside the centre circle launched an incisive Leverstock counter-attack.

Bircham found Luke Warner-Eley, who put Wright clean through. Wright took the ball past keeper Sonny Sheed-Ryan, but was then pulled down by the keeper.

The referee awarded the penalty, but remarkably took no further action against Sheed-Ryan despite him clearly being the last man.

However, Bircham stuck away his 20th goal of the season from the penalty spot to level the scores at 2-2.

Within two minutes the game had turned completely as Leverstock were awarded a free-kick just outside the box, and Luke Warner-Eley curled it over the wall superbly to put the Green 3-2 ahead despite Sheed-Ryan getting both hands to it.

Hoddesdon should have brought it back to 3-3 in the 83rd minute. Udoh was clean through and could have scored himself, but instead laid off to Jamie Brandon who was even better placed. Brandon had only McNicholas to beat, but slotted his shot inches wide.

That proved crucial as Leverstock went on to score two more goals, both of them created by Luke Preedy, one of the talented U18 players who came on as a 75th minute substitute.

In the 86th minute Wright crossed to the back post, where Preedy met it with a cushioned header back into the six-yard box for Bircham, who brought it down and stabbed the ball home to complete his third hat-trick of the season.

Two minutes into stoppage time a pass from Preedy put Callum Wright clean through, and Wright neatly lobbed the ball over Sheed-Ryan to complete an excellent 5-2 win.

The three points were enough to ensure that Leverstock are mathematically safe from relegation, with two league games remaining – the first of them being next Saturday away to Colney Heath.

Leverstock Green: 1. Dan McNicholas, 2. Damien Cruickshank, 3. Luke Warner-Eley, 4. Dwaine Bryan, 5. Danny Arnett, 6. Timi Salako (12. Luke Preedy 75 mins), 7. Elias Moses (14. Ricky Dash 68 mins), 8. Tommy Walsh, 9. Louis Bircham, 10. Carl McCluskey, 11. Callum Wright. Sub not used: 15. David Paredes.

Hoddesdon Town: 1. Sonny Sheed-Ryan, 2. Sean Stock (17. Dejan Yornadov 83 mins), 3. Kevin Metivier, 4. Ike Nzuruba, 5. Joe Welch, 6. Tom Proudlock, 7. Aaron Crockett (12. Adam Arnold H/T), 8. George Lyons, 9. Daniel Udoh, 10. Kambo Smith, 11. Jamie Brandon. Subs not used: 15. Sonny Evans, 16. Thomas Cowell.