Despite fighting hard, Leverstock Green dropped out of the Suburban League Cup on Saturday after a 3-0 defeat at the hands of a very skillful looking Eastleigh side.
Green may have been the underdogs going into the game, but Eastleigh were made to work for it, and although Danny Johnson's men were being pressurised right from the start, they held out well in the first half, even though the impetus at this point was very much with the opposition. However, good play by the Green defence, as well as some great saves by Reece Axten (who was in excellent form for much of the game), quickly started to frustrate the Eastleigh players, and it was clearly graining on them that all their fancy footwork had entirely failed to break down the Green defence during the game at Pancake Lane, and this forced them into mistakes.
After 15 minutes Eastleigh won a free kick. It was taken by Brad Fountain, who was clearly going for goal, but his shot was too low and the wall did its job, sending the ball bouncing out of play. From the resulting corner, the ball was launched back into the penalty area, but Eastleigh's Jamie Bullpitt could only hit the side netting. Eastleigh, who are also known as the Spitfires, squandered another chance the following minute, when Corey King hit the crossbar.
Green's first real chance on goal came in the 34th minute, when Ben Taverner latched onto a lovely cross from Dan Bennett, but his shot was just a little too high. All too soon Eastleigh were back on the attack again, and this time it was Ryan Holloway who had an attempt on goal, only for his shot to be tipped over the bar by Axten, and when the corner was taken the ball was headed to safety by James Budden.
The teams started the second half with the score still at 0-0, but Eastleigh were the first to try to do something about that, and started in the same vain in which they had finished the first half. They showed their intent in the 51st minute, when Lerone Plummer, attempting to get clear of the Levy Green defence, was pressurised into a mistake by Mark Broome, and could only hit the side netting.
But it didn't last much longer than that. Green had done very well to hold out this long, but unfortunately Eastleigh always looked like the team more likely to break the deadlock, and they did just that with their very next attack. In a very crowded penalty area, Corey King's corner landed at the feet of Plummer, who cheekily back-heeled the ball into the back of the net.
Just as had happened in the recent league game against Berkhamsted, going behind had an energising effect on Green. They had a chance too equalise in the 61st minute, when Jake Broome suddenly found himself through on goal, but the Eastleigh defence recovered and the chance was gone. There would be more chances though, and moments later Ben Taverner found Dan Bennett in space, but Bennett's shot was deflected out for a corner. Eastleigh defended the corner successfully, but Green were able to advance up field again with Taverner and Bennett combining to perform a lovely 1-2, but no goal was forthcoming.
Taverner was also the source of Green's last clear chance on goal, as he attempted and ambitious shot from range, and almost pulled it off, but it was again just a little too high. Having lost their momentum for the previous 10 minutes or so, Eastleigh regained control of the game in the later stages, and Corey King got round Axten to set up Josh Armstrong, who doubled their lead, before King himself struck deep into injury time to put Eastleigh three up.
Throughout the game Leverstock Green fought as hard as they could, just as they had done in the first leg, but ultimately the stronger team won.