Leverstock Green began the new year in excellent style with a 3-1 win at Ampthill Town, courtesy of a hat-trick from Callum Wright.
A torrid couple of months has seen Leverstock slip uncomfortably close to the SSML Premier Division relegation zone, but this was a crucial three points against one of the sides below them in the table.
Ampthill made the better start to the game, but it was Leverstock who started creating chances first.
In the 14th minute, Liam O’Keefe’s pass allowed Billy Smith to put over a cross which Wright headed over the bar.
Five minutes later, Nathan Jellow tried to get on the end of a Chad Pinching cross but he was thwarted by home keeper Jordan McKechnie.
The breakthrough eventually came in the 24th minute when Smith got away down the right and cut into the box, before chipping the ball into the six-yard box for Wright to head home the opener.
Ampthill could have levelled two minutes later when Stuart Gillies had a free header from a corner, but he put the ball over the bar.
For the rest of the half, though, Leverstock were well on top and should have extended their lead.
On 30 minutes a slip by a defender allowed Jellow to run on to a long kick from Kieran Jimmy and go clean through, only to hit his shot straight at McKechnie.
Leverstock took their 1-0 lead into the break and almost doubled it in the opening minute of the second half when the ball spun away from a challenge between Smith and McKechnie and was headed off the line by a defender.
Danny Butler had the chance of an equaliser after 53 minutes but Jimmy saved his shot.
The second Leverstock goal in the 57th minute began from a poorly-taken Ampthill free-kick.
The ball was cleared to Pinching, who used his pace to break away before laying off a well-weighted pass to Wright, who cut past a defender and drilled a shot into the bottom corner of the net.
Dene Gardner came off the bench after 64 minutes and immediately started causing problems for the Ampthill defence, setting up a shooting chance for Jellow which hit the post.
However, it wasn’t long before Leverstock got a deserved third goal, as Wright exchanged passes with Pinching before shooting home to complete his hat-trick in the 66th minute.
The only blot on the Leverstock performance was a goal conceded in the 76th minute. Butler was allowed too much space to go on a run down the right before squaring for Louie Dillon to steer a shot past Jimmy .
However, there was to be no comeback from Ampthill, and Leverstock held on comfortably for the win.