23/9/06: FA Vase Second Qualifying Round
Biggleswade United 2 Leverstock Green 3
Leverstock Green safely booked their passage to the next round of the FA Vase, but their supporters had to endure an unnecessarily nervous ending to a game that should have been wrapped up by half-time. Green had four senior players in Josh Price, John Pedder, Allan Arthur and Lee Johnson missing, but their youthful line-up, including Matt Plaskett (18) and Louis West (17) at the centre of defence was still good enough.
Leverstock were down to business quickly and took the lead on 12 minutes. Dale Sears’ ball into the box was headed up into the air by a defender, and dropped nicely for James Armstrong to emphatically volley home his sixth goal of the season.
For the rest of the half it was a question of how many chances Green could squander. On 19 minutes Adam Hallissey’s pass put Armstrong clean through, but United keeper Andy North dived at his feet to claim the ball as Armstrong tried to go round him. In the 24th minute Paul Leslie’s cross missed everybody to find Darren Caseman coming round at the far post, but he shot into the side netting. Five minutes later Sears’ pass put Armstrong in again, but the attention of a chasing defender forced him into an early shot which North saved with his legs.
On 32 minutes Hallissey met Leslie’s free kick with a header which came back off the bar. Six minutes later a ball over the top put Hallissey clean through, but he ran on to shoot over the bar when squaring for Armstrong might have been the better option. In the last five minutes of the half Caseman had a shot saved by North, Armstrong again shot at North’s legs when clean through, and Green had a blatant penalty turned down when Hallissey was barged over inside the box.
Biggleswade should have been buried by half-time, but early in the second half it looked as though Green would live to regret their catalogue of missed chances. United won a series of corners in the opening minutes of the half, and on 51 minutes the Green defence was left looking for an offside decision as Wayne Goldsmith burst through to equalise.
However, Green hit back with a devastating double strike. On 56 minutes Leslie’s ball over the top gave Armstrong another run at goal. This time he pulled the ball back to the edge of the penalty area where Sears met it with a crisp low drive into the corner of the net for his fourth goal in three games to put Green back in front. A minute later there was almost an action replay as West’s long ball put Armstrong in again, and again he pulled the ball across goal, where Caseman arrived to sidefoot home for a 3-1 lead.
Again the game should have been over, but on 66 minutes Plaskett went for a header and misjudged it to leave Keith Thomas clean through, and he hit a shot past Mark Davidson to put his side back in the game. Green were on the back foot for the remainder of the game, but the closest United came to an equaliser was in injury time when Goldsmith’s cross found Thomas on the edge of the six-yard box, but Davidson turned his shot round the post and Green held out to set up an away tie at Wellingborough in the first round proper on October 7th.
Team: Davidson, Burr, Leslie, Plaskett, West, Boad, Sears, Caseman (Welling), Sangster, Armstrong, Hallissey (Barber).