Leverstock Green exited another cup competition on Tuesday night as they went down 4-2 to Welwyn Garden City in the quarter-finals of the Herts Charity Shield at Pancake Lane.
They didn’t help themselves by getting off to a dreadful start. Welwyn attacked down the right flank straight from the kick-off, and as a cross came over Craig Arnott came in unmarked to blast the ball home from a yard out with just 26 seconds on the clock.
Leverstock came close to levelling the scores in the eighth minute as a pass from Chris Blunden put Louis Bircham in behind the defence. Bircham took the ball past the keeper and sent it towards the empty net, but defender Jay Lovell scrambled back to clear it off the line.
Josh Bronti had a chance to put the visitors two up in the 15th minute when he was clean through, but Sam Mazurek saved with his feet.
However, in the 19th minute some poor defending – trying to shepherd the ball out of play when it should have been cleared – allowed Welwyn to put the ball into the box where Bronti shot home the second goal.
Two minutes later Leverstock got themselves back into the game through a superb strike from Blunden, who received the ball from Bircham on the edge of the box and curled it straight into the top corner of the net before the keeper could even move.
Mazurek produced another great save in the 34th minute to deny Ash Kersey from point-blank range, but three minutes later Leverstock were caught on the break as a single ball forward put Bronti clean through again, and this time he slotted the ball past Mazurek for a 3-1 lead.
Leverstock’s chances took a further dive during first half stoppage time when Reece McArthur – who had been a ticking timebomb since receiving an early booking – finally got his second yellow to leave his side reduced to 10 men.
Further into stoppage time Mazurek had to come off injured, being replaced by sub keeper Callum Woods.
The 10 men put up a very good effort in the second half, and got back into the game again on 58 minutes when Curtis Donaldson made a run into the box before shooting home from a narrow angle to reduce the deficit to 2-3.
However, on 70 minutes the visitors re-established their two-goal lead. Arnott’s shot from outside the box was blocked, but the ball continued to roll through into the path of Sam Perrin, who shot home the fourth goal.
Welwyn maintained their two-goal lead for the rest of the game, and Bronti had three chances to complete his hat-trick in the last minute, seeing two of them well-saved by Woods and putting the other one wide.
Leverstock return to league action on Saturday with a local derby at Tring Athletic.
Leverstock Green: 1. Sam Mazurek (17. Callum Woods 45+4 mins), 2. Jack Gilmartin, 3. Liam O’Keefe (14. Reece Cameron 76 mins), 4. Joe Horwood, 5. James Budden, 6. Lee Faulkner (16. Timi Salako 63 mins), 7. Jack Halcomb, 8. Reece McArthur, 9. Louis Bircham, 10. Chris Blunden, 11. Curtis Donaldson. Subs not used: 12. Gavin Smith, 15. Chinua Phinn-Archer.
Welwyn Garden City: 1. Jamie Jackson, 2. Sam Perrin, 3. Jay Welsh, 4. Juan Cifuentes, 5. Jay Lovell, 6. Carl Mensah, 7. Josh Bronti, 8. Nathan Dimmock (15. Joe Price 64 mins), 9. Jason Caswell, 10. Ash Kersey (16. Levi Gunn 64 minutes), 11. Craig Arnott (12. Daryl Smith 76 mins). Sub not used: 14. Reggie Ross.