Cooper brace seals comeback

Magpies come from 2-0 down to win

SSML Premier Division

Colney Heath 3 Leverstock Green 2

COLNEY Heath’s hopes of a top-three finish this season were given a boost after a remarkable comeback against Leverstock Green on Saturday.

The Magpies found themselves 2-0 down inside 40 minutes after a strike from Bill Morgan and a Lee Bircham penalty but Glen Draper’s header just before the break saw the momentum swing the way of the home side and despite Draper’s second half dismissal, Ian Cooper’s late brace saw all three points go to Heath.

It was an outcome that looked unlikely in the first 45 minutes as Leverstock Green used the slope and wind to their advantage.

Ben Butler fired into the side netting early on and Louis West headed wide after connecting with a Bircham cross.

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The opening goal came in the 11th minute when Morgan met Charlie Gorman’s free kick with a powerful header that left Magpies’ custodian Tom Blackman with no chance.

Scott Lacey and Wes Awad’s side could have drawn level just two minutes later but Kevin Ashwood’s free kick clipped the post and went wide.

Blackman did well to deny Jon Davies in a one-on-one but Levy were handed a golden opportunity to double their lead when Magpies captain Steve Barker upended Ben Butler inside the box. It was an opportunity that Leverstock had no intention of passing up and Bircham slotted home.

The crucial moment came a minute before the interval when Draper’s powerful header beat Green goalkeeper Carl Tasker and nestled in the net.

That goal changed the outlook for Heath and they could have levelled early in the second half when Dave Corran got on the end of a Paul Armstrong cross only to find Tasker equal to his header.

The Magpies did equalise with less than 20 minutes remaining when Bircham was penalised for a foul on Barker inside the penalty area. Ian Cooper gratefully accepted the invitation sending Tasker the wrong way.

The action was coming thick and fast and Heath were dealt a blow when Draper was given his marching orders. The defender had already been booked in the first half and picked up a debatable second yellow card late on for an alleged trip on Louis Austin.

The visitors looked to use their numerical advantage to find a winner but Austin fired over and substitute Lewis Pritchard shot wide.

Cooper was to show no such wastefulness though and when he was played in perfectly by Ashwood late on the Magpies’ top scorer made no mistake with a left footed shot past Tasker to complete the turnaround.

The goal was the striker’s 21st goal of the campaign, an outstanding contribution from a player who has spent three months of the season on the sidelines.

The Magpies will now travel to Stotfold tomorrow night (Tuesday) in the Premier Division.

Heath had been due to host their Challenge Trophy semi-final with either Stotfold or Dunstable Town but the quarter-final tie which was due to be played last Wednesday was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch. Heath now have to wait until this Thursday to find out who they will face.

Colney Heath: Blackman; Gerber, Draper, Barker, Staples; Armstrong, Williams (Jackman 56), Humbert, Ashwood, Corran (Turner 67); I Cooper.

Subs not used: Brettell, Taylor, Teasdale.