Leverstock Green is a suburb of Hemel Hempstead wedged between the A414 and the M1. Oddly though, after approaching the ground down a very narrow lane, you get the feeling that you are in a rural location. Parking is limited at the ground and locals are actually actively encouraged to walk there. There is no offroad parking alongside the ground due to the narrowness of the lane. No problem on this evening though. I was met at the entrance by a friendly gatekeeper who informed me that there was no parking charge, it was inlcuded in the entarnce fee of £6 (programme an extra £1).
Once inside there is parking running parallel to Pancake Lane, behind one of the goals, as well as limited spaces down one side of the ground. There is a clubhouse and bar on the left hand side as you enter along with a tea and snack bar. The dugouts are also on this side of the pitch, spread well apart. No chance of any Wenger-style contretemps between the benches here. Opposite the clubhouse is a covered seating area, the Friends of Leverstock Green FC Stand. The rest of the ground is surrounded by hard-standing and, I have to say, appeared to be all very well maintained.
On to the game itself. Leverstock lost the toss, I believe, and ended up kicking down the slope in the first half, away from the car park end. The opening encounters were, as would be expected from two teams at the wrong end of the table, cautious to say the least. Most noticeable was the inability of both sides to string more than two consecutive passes together. The away side, who needed the points most of all, only seemed to have the long ball in their locker for the opening 15 minutes. They appeared to be there for the taking if only Leverstock could get the ball down and play through them. This did not happen and, the longer the game progressed, the more Holmer Green gained in confidence.
Just before the half hour mark Leverstock lost their goalkeeper and captain to injury. From the fact that the injured player had to remove his shirt to hand to one of the substitutes we can gather that there was no recognised goalkeeper on the bench. Five minutes later the away side took the lead. A decent cross from the left into the Leverstock 18 yard box was contested by a striker and defender and, when the ball dropped perfectly in his path, the on-rushing Dean Allen drilled the ball under the new keeper and into the net. No chance whatsoever for the substitute keeper. This was also the 100th goal that I have seen this season.
The expected response from the hom side did not materialise and the remainder of the half was played out with little threat to either goal. When the referee blew for half-time there had been little to choose between the teams but it was the away side who held the advantage. Not the best half of football that anyone had seen. It could only get better, and it did.
The second half began at a much higher pace than the first had ended. Within a few minutes of the restart Leverstock had a reasonable penalty shout denied by the referee. Seconds later, Holmer went down the the other end and hit the post from the edge of the box. Probanly more action in the opening 5 minutes of the second half than in the entire first 45.
Leverstock were looking far more dangerous, especially down the right flank where time and again they made good progress but could not find a final ball. Then, just past the hour and completely out of the blue, Leverstock produced a move that stood out like a sore thumb. A series of one touch passes don the right opened up the Holmer defence and gave Moses a clear angled run on the goalkeeper. He duly obliged with a superb driven finish high into the keepers near post. It was a goal that would have graced a much higher level than this and a worthy equaliser.
There seemed to be only one winner from this point onwards but Leverstock again failed to take advantage when they were on top and, to give them credit, Holmer dug in and defended their point right up to the last minute.
On the second half performance, Leverstock probably deserved to have got more than a point out of this game. However, Holmer displayed a determination that belied their league position and will certainly feel they were worthy of the point.
Leverstock Green - @levgreenfc
Holmer Green - @holmergreenfc