Two goals in two minutes for Longlevens saw the Gloucestershire side secure a 2-1 win against Reading City, ensuring their Hellenic Premier status after a long season.
Jonty Welch’s equaliser followed by a terrific solo effort from Jay Malshanskyj 90 seconds later saw Craig Martin’s men turn the game on it’s head after Ousman Darboe had put Reading City in front earlier in the first half.
There was a big game atmosphere at Saw Mills, with the fixture being the first of the day for the GroundHopUk tour this Easter Weekend. An attendance of 331 witnessed a lunchtime of drama.
First, the kick off was delayed by 20 minutes after two cars with Reading City players in were caught in traffic after an accident on the M4.
Then after being initially named in the Longlevens starting XI, goalkeeper Ash Wintle injured a calf in the warm up and had to be replaced by the able replacement, Kane Winman. It meant that player/manager Craig Martin was named on the bench and you wondered whether it was written in the stars for him.
When the game eventually got underway it was the visitors who started brighter. Trevor Mutero found himself one on one inside the first two minutes, but his lob over Winman ricocheted off the crossbar for a goal kick.
As Longlevens grew into the game both Jonty Welch and Brad Martin fired wide in a pulsating opening 10 minutes.
Simon Johnson’s men took the lead on 15 minutes, when a cross from the right hand side was met by Darboe, who turned the ball beyond Winman to add to the nerves amongst the Longlevens supporters.
Forest Green loanee Jay Malshanskyj nearly equalised within minutes when he picked the ball up on the right wing, cut in to the edge of the box and firing just wide.
Welch nearly caught out Reading goalkeeper Charlie York with a curled cross come shot which saw York have to make a late save.
Mutero should have punished the hosts just after the half hour mark, after Longlevens failed to clear a cross into the box. The ball fell to the Reading forward about 14 yards from goal but he skied his effort.
Sam Hendy, also on loan from Forest Green, played a one two with Malshanskyj before forcing a great stop out of York just before half time.
At the break the feeling was that Longlevens had to step up their game in search of an equaliser, with the final 10 minutes of the first half or so producing their best football.
The second half started slow, with both sides slugging it out like a heavyweight boxing match. Both sides had a flurry of corners but the defences were standing firm.
Ellis Sausman went down after a challenge at the near post from a corner and was replaced by Ollie Long. Sausman was helped off the pitch and it didn’t look too good.
Longlevens carved out a great chance from a corner just before the hour, but after his initial header down was blocked, defender James Barnett could only slice wide from the corner of the six yard box.
Barnett was involved just minutes later though, when his long throw was bouncing straight over York and the keeper has palmed it down for Welch to leap onto and convert from 3 yards.
From there the momentum shifted drastically and Longlevens would turn the game on its head when Malshanskyj skipped past two Reading men before firing past York to make it 2-1 and send the home bench into delirium.
Reading thought they had levelled when captain Ellis Cowd headed a corner into the ground, but as the ball was bouncing up into the corner Kane Winman flew to his right to palm the ball away.
Charlie York pulled off an equally good stop just two minutes later to claw a curling effort from Jonty Welch over the bar.
York was called into action again soon after to deny Sam Hendy, after the Reading back line were guilty of overplaying the ball and Hendy nipped in.
From there Longlevens did well to see the game out. With Dave Rich and Tommy Callinan coming off the bench to sure up the midfield, they began to take further control to ensure victory.
A shout-out to Callinan for dropping in a nutmeg that saw Longlevens then look to keep the ball in the corner.
In the end the win sees Longlevens go level on points with local rivals Tuffley Rovers, whilst Reading City know that they are pretty much safe too.
Severn Sport understands that it has been confirmed that only the bottom placed side will be relegated from the Hellenic Premier, meaning that unless Abingdon United beat Brimscombe & Thrupp on Sunday by 8 goals, Reading City will be staying up too.
This is because Oxford City Nomads will be considered a relegated side due to the timing of their withdrawal of the league. Of course, the Hellenic League will announce the final proposed league for the 2019/20 season in due course.
Longlevens: Winman, Dunn, Barnett, Merrick (Rich 63′), Smyllie, Sausman (Long 53′), Welch (Callinan 78′), Hendy, O’Connor, Martin, Malshanskyj
Subs not used: Brown, C Martin
Reading City: York, Best, McDonnell, Davies (Jones 82′), Cowd, Howell, Andrady, Cashin-Murray (Crawford 86′), Medford, Mutero (Dyer 67′), Darboe
Subs not used: None
Severn Sport Man of the Match – Jay Malshanskyj (Longlevens)
Check out the rest of the fixtures throughout the Easter Weekend right here