Craig Martin says “draw feels like a defeat” as Longlevens let two goal lead slip

Longlevens player/assistant manager Craig Martin was full of praise for his side after they let a 2-0 lead slip in the dying moments against Flackwell Heath, drawing 2-2.

Two mistakes from goalkeeper Ash Wintle saw Harry Ritchie and Flackwell captain Dean Allen capitalise to earn their side a draw.

With the game goalless at the break the deadlock was broken by an absolute world class effort from Dave Rich. After a Logan Roach corner was fired towards goal by Shaun O’Connor, the ball looped up into the air and was met by a spectacular overhead by the impressive Rich and the ball flew beyond Flackwell keeper Aaron Watkins.

Craig Martin found himself in charge for the second half after manager Mark Moore had left Saw Mills due to a previously scheduled family commitment, and he would be have been loving his role when substitute Isaac Johns doubled Longlevens’ lead two minutes after coming off the bench.

The 16 year old striker ran across the near post and looped in a lovely header to the back post and with that the points looked safe.

Disappointingly for Longlevens both of Flackwell’s goals were similar. A long ball was flicked on and the on rushing Wintle firstly got caught out by a bad touch to allow Ritchie in and secondly was only able to nod the ball into Allen’s path. Allen’s effort even more agonising as Ed Smyllie chased the effort and nearly cleared it off the line.

In reflection a draw was a fair result on the balance of play but it will be the manor of the points dropped that will hurt Longlevens the most tonight. They welcome Lydney Town to Saw Mills on Wednesday night as Levens will look to get this result out of their system.

After the game Martin spoke to Severn Sport to discuss the game and his half in charge of the first team.

“It feels like a defeat. You don’t expect to be two goals up at home so close to full time and come away with a two all draw having been cruising. The referee found 8 minutes of stoppage time from somewhere, somewhere only he will know. You can’t knock the lads though for today’s performance as they were superb, all of them.”

“If you had offered me a point before the game or this morning then I’d have taken it. But then when we went two up I did think we had the three points. Obviously we haven’t seen the game out and that is something that we are going to have to start doing as a team as soon as possible, especially if we want to finish in the top 10.”

The crowd in attendance were impressed by 16 year old Isaac Johns when he came on and with Martin mentoring his development it wasn’t a surprise for him to see Johns score so soon after coming on.

“Every game Isaac is getting better and better. The future is bright for him, yes he will have to bide his time but if we just keep unleashing him he is going to be there and he will push the other strikers that we have for that number 9 shirt.”

Martin also acknowledged the influence Mark Moore has on the touchline and whilst Levens appeared to miss their manager in the second half, Martin is confident Longlevens will be back to their very best on Wednesday night against Lydney Town. 

“Mark would have made different decisions to me that’s for sure, but he trusts me and Tom [Callinan] to do what we feel is right on the day and we did that. Yeah, we may have got some decisions wrong today and if we did I hold my hands up for it but on Wednesday we will be looking to put it right, every single one of us.”

Longlevens Line-Up: Wintle, Dunn, Smyllie, Barnett, Sausman, Roach (Lewis 83′), Rich (Squires 85′), Kennedy, Turner, O’Connor (Johns 73′), Philp

Subs Not Used: Kavanagh, Martin

Flackwell Heath Line-Up: Watkins, Edwards (Malin 67′), Gregory, Gray, Bailey, Tackley, Dowdican (White 60′), Baines, Allen, Thompson (Ritchie 60′), Harris

Subs Not Used: Howes

Elsewhere in the Hellenic Premier, Fairford Town were leading pre-season title challengers Wantage Town 2-0 before ultimately being defeated 3-2. A Sam Blackie double helped Brimscombe & Thrupp come from a goal down to win 3-1 at home to Windsor. Bishops Cleeve came back from 2-0 down to be leading 3-2 in their first game back in the Hellenic League before a late Ascot United equaliser saw the game end 3-3. A bad day in the office for Tuffley Rovers as a TJ Bohane hattrick helped Royal Wootton Bassett to a 6-1 opening day win, Ryan Dobbins grabbing a late consolation.

Also Lydney Town’s game at Brackley Town Saints was postponed after Lydney’s coach broke down on the way and the delay would have been too long.

Our sides move on to midweek action and Severn Sport will be there to see it. We will be at Brimscombe & Thrupp vs Bishops Cleeve on Tuesday night before a return to Saw Mills on Wednesday for Longlevens vs Lydney Town.