It was a devastating afternoon for all concerned as Biggleswade United were annihilated 5-0 by a rampant Leverstock Green side on Saturday.
Following the team’s imperious form in recent months, this result was the culmination of a gradual decline in performance levels over the past few games. If Wednesday night’s enervated display at Welwyn Garden City was a blip, the decimation that took place at Pancake Lane on the weekend is a genuine concern and requires tremendous resilience from the boys in order to recover.
It took The Green, who remain in 17th place despite their victory, a few minutes to get into the ascendency but once they achieved that they cruised through the game without much resistance. Skipper Curtis Donaldson squandered their first opportunity as United keeper Adam Counihan denied him from close range before the follow up was well blocked.
They wouldn’t be denied much longer, however, as minutes later Nyasha Sagwete dealt with a cross poorly sending the ball spiralling into the air and when it dropped the lively Lewis Cruwys nudged it home. A scrappy goal and a consequence of some very passive defending which set a precedent for the action to come.
United struggled to get out of their own half as the hosts pressed with aggression and enthusiasm. Cruwys curled one into Counihan’s gloves before Alex McCarthy headed wide from a looping corner. Myles Cash then blazed over after finding space in the right hand channel as they continued to pepper the visitors’ goal.
Despite spending the majority of the match on the back front, United did begin to find some rhythm with leading scorer Tom Cookman creating a chance for himself in a rather fortuitous manner- but his shot on the turn was scuffed wide at the near post. Soon after Mohammed Hashim came closest to restoring parity when James Cooper picked him out, only to see his exquisite volley strike the outside of the post.
Marginally against the run of the play, The Green then doubled their advantage with McCarthy emerging from a queue of three at the back post to head past Counihan following a Donaldson corner. Cruwys fired over from range moments later as United’s uncharacteristic lack of intensity and direction caused proved troublesome.
Colás would have been eager to get his side in at the break and address the numerous issues that were prevalent in that opening period. But they had to defend two more chances before the interval with Cruwys first heading against the post, prior to a Oliver Buckley miss at the rebound. Buckley almost atoned for that when he bent one towards goal but it was easy enough for the keeper to collect.
Adam Drakulić replaced Hashim ahead of the restart as United tried to alter the course of the game. The substitute almost made an immediate impact when his free kick was met by the head of skipper Lee Bilcock before dropping into the grateful palms of keeper Liam Jahn.
Normal service was quickly resumed, however, as McCarthy got his second and Leverstock’s third six minutes into the second half. Ryan Laville’s initial shot was saved after he received the ball from a good cross before McCarthy bundled the rebound over the line.
Bilcock came close to suffering the ignominy of an own goal when he dealt with a cross unconvincingly but it drifted just over the bar to spare his blushes. Another chance quickly came and went as ‘The Green’ continued to look menacing going forward. This time Donaldson’s cross to the back post couldn’t quite be diverted goalwards.
He didn’t have to wait long to claim a second assist as minutes later he found Cruwys and he headed past the keeper, who was becoming increasingly frustrated with having to pick the ball out of his net.
Charlie Joy provided a good response to the fourth goal going in as his jinking run gave him the opportunity to strike. The shot didn’t quite have enough pace on it to nestle in the far bottom corner but it was United’s first sign of attacking intent for a while.
That brief respite was ended not long after as Cruwys was allowed to complete his hatrick with a neat finish inside the area. Laville was afforded far too much time and space with United’s pressing game virtually non-existent and he found the clinical Cruwys who slotted home.
The visitors improved in the final quarter of the match although that was largely down to the hosts relinquishing control once the fifth goal went in. Nevertheless United had a few decent opportunities to reduce the deficit, the first coming from Sagwete as his well-struck effort from range was held by Jahn. Teenage forward Scott Batchelor then delayed his shot after he was found by Cookman in the area which proved costly as he was quickly dispossessed.
Perhaps the best effort of the encounter then came as Tom Bryant’s ferocious long-range drive struck the underside of the bar before being cleared. Cookman had a chance for himself when he forced a good save out of Jahn with a powerful left-footed shot. That preceded another attempt by Bryant which arrowed its way into the keeper’s gloves before Leverstock’s Buckley fired into Counihan’s hands signalling the conclusion of an absorbing encounter- even if it was rather one-sided.
A demoralising defeat which even the most pessimistic of United supporters couldn’t have foreseen, but it amplifies the need for improvement as results and more alarmingly performances continue to decline.
Draws against London Colney and Cockfosters were reasonable, the loss at Welwyn was disappointing if not overly concerning, however Saturday’s display against a side they had already dispatched of twice this season was completely unacceptable.