Sharpness missed out on claiming a potentially promotion earning third spot in the Gloucestershire Northern Senior League Division One, as they were defeated 2-1 thanks to a stoppage time Connor Linham winner for Longlevens Reserves, despite having the majority of the play.
Both sides wanted the win and included two “ringers” a piece, with Slimbridge winger Marley Thomas and Mangotsfield United forward Mikey Bryant in the ranks for Sharpness whilst Longlevens called up first team defenders Luke Kavanagh and Ryan Dunn.
The home side came out of the blocks quickly and dominated the opening three and a half minutes in both attacking play and overall possession. That was until Filton Gardiner was set clear on the left hand side for Levens. His ball across found the opposite winger Rhys Lewis, who side stepped his man before cooly and calmly side-footing the ball into the corner. Longlevens one up after their first passage of play with intent.
Lewis, who made the Severn Sport Team Of The Month for April after a couple of impressive showings for the first team looked one of the most likely to create anything as the first half went on, drawing plaudits from Slimbridge AFC chairman Barry Gaye who was in attendance.
Levens didn’t lead for long though. After captain Rob Perry hooked the ball up into the air it was caught by Levens keeper Liam Best. The indirect free kick was set up for Thomas Palmer, who rifled Sharpness back on level terms.
The first half did fade out without much to write home about as both sides carved out chances and opportunities, without testing either keeper. Longlevens were infuriated just before half time as Lewis was chopped down in the box, but the referee waved played on….it was absolute stone wall.
Into the second half and once again it was all Sharpness. Marley Thomas was showing why he is so highly thought of within local football, but at the same time Luke Kavanagh was doing a great job at martialing the nippy winger.
Mikey Bryant headed over just on the hour mark from a Thomas ball in. With it being a free header you expected the ex-Slimbridge man to put the hosts in front.
Thomas got the better of Kavanagh a matter of minutes later as he leapt onto a ball over the top, put the after burners on to bare down on goal from the right and shot early. Best got a hand onto it but the ball was heading for the back post. Somehow the ball hit the post and fell directly into Best’s hands. Frustration began to build for the home side.
The frustrations were heightened when Thomas got away from Kavanagh for only the second time, rounded Best only for his goalbound effort to be blocked by the recovering Luke Kavanagh. It fell to Thomas again but his follow up was superbly blocked by Dan Parry. Longlevens were defending for their lives!!
Filton Gardiner and Duncan McCabe tested 16 year old Sharpness keeper Truan Taylor, but the youngster made pulled off a couple of blinding saves to keep the scores level.
After being denied an obvious penalty in the first half Longlevens conceded one after a cross from the right was blocked by the defender. It was handball but it appeared to be outside the box. A penalty was awarded but it was saved by Best. Justice for Longlevens you sensed as the keeper denied James Priday from the spot.
As the clocked ticked into stoppage time there was the ultimate sucker punch for Sharpness, delivered by the left foot of Connor Linham. The forward picked the ball up on the left corner of the box, shimmied past his man before arrowing an effort into the top corner giving the young Taylor no chance. Cue the Longlevens bench exploding into celebrations, I don’t blame them it was some goal.
There was a moment of controversy and slight embarrassment really in dying moments of the game. A gentleman representing Sharpness as a linesman got into a heated discussion with Levens manager Andy Davies. Toys were thrown out of the pram and replaced with handbags.
This lead to an absolutely horrendous challenge coming in on Dan Parry by Bradley Hewer. He flew in on the Levens defender and could have broken his leg. Parry did Hewer a favour by getting up straight away but what a bad tackle. Hewer only got a yellow card, somehow.
Longlevens held on to take the three points and will finish the season in 6th place whilst Sharpness will be disappointed not to overtake Chalford for 3rd and can now be caught by Cam Bulldogs for 4th. Cam host Harrow Hill next Saturday.
Severn Sport Man Of The Match: Luke Kavanagh (Longlevens Reserves)