Heath have played 4 friendlies after the World Cup caused the cancellation of the game at Corinthian. They started with a 2-2 draw against Rusthall from the Southern Counties East Premier League with goals from Ben Hands and Devon Fender.
Next was the annual game against Tonbridge Angels Under 23s. Heath dominated the first half and should have been well clear at the break but a mixture of rusty finishing and a deflected shot just before half time saw them trailing. Early in the second half a worldy from Tonbridge’s impressive left winger extended the visitors lead and shortly after a defensive error gifted them a third. The rest of the game carried on with Heath dominating possession but unable to find the finishing touch.
That finishing touch was back for the game against Division 1 Southwick. After an even opening 25 minutes, Devon Fender wriggled free of his marker to finish clinically. His cross was then deflected in by a defender to make it 2-0. Rob Godfrey then made it 3 from right wing back. Godfrey and Fender doubled their totals in the second half and scores from Tom Howard Bold, Ben Chowney and George Cousins resulted in an 8-0 win.
Over the last few years Heath have journeyed to Camberley from the Combined Counties Premier on a Tuesday evening which has led to a few players unable to make it. This year Heath were without Rob Godfrey, Glenn Woodburn, Shaun Findlay, Stuart Chester and Dan Sandell but welcomed back Harri Nourse. They also included younger players Kyle Sim, Louis Blake and Adam Edwards for what is always a tough fixture.
The hosts opened strongly and the Heath defence and keeper Mark Fox had to be alert and resilient against a big strong side who were very dangerous from set pieces. After 20 minutes a tactical switch saw Ben Chowney joining Devon Fender up front and Tom Howard Bold moving into a more advanced role. Within minutes Bold had found Fender who fed Chowney on the edge of the box. The ex Roffey man played in George Cousins who was brought down as he was bursting through and Fender buried the penalty. Half Time 0-1
The hosts had obviously been given a gee up in the interval and started the second half on the front foot and Marlon Maxwell, Martyn Flack and keeper Fraser Trigwell had to deal with some dangerous balls into the box. Then Heath were awarded a free kick out on the right wing and Bold’s whipped delivery resulted in Maxwell being hauled back as he tried to finish from 5 yards out. Fender again gave the keeper no chance from the spot. Then Alfie Jones’ early ball out of defence found Nourse whose defence splitting pass allowed Cousins to drill his shot inside the far post to make it 0-3 to the Bears. Heath remained comfortable and the more threatening making several changes and giving a debut to 17 year old Adam Edwards, a second appearance for Louis Blake and a run out up front for Kyle Sim. In the last minute a scramble in the Heath box saw a Camberley get the final touch to loop the ball over Trigwell to reduce the arrears and with virtually the last kick of the game, a Trigwell could only push a free kick against the post and it found its way across the line.
So a 3-2 win, which would have been very acceptable before the game but Heath assistant manager Steve Whiting was happy to concentrate on the all-round performance over the first 88 minutes which proved that Heath could compete against a big strong team, who are expected to do well in their league this year, and still get their pacey passing game going. 11 goals in 2 games is also welcome.
So now it is onward to the first league game of the season at Hassocks who are never an easy team to beat on their own pitch and who drew with Horsham in their last friendly. Manager Steve Painter will have several more players available on Saturday and as last season showed, it is important that he has a strong squad to call on if Heath are to challenge at the top end of the table this year.
Heath v Camberley
Fox (Trigwell), Jones (Edwards), Maxwell, Flack, Robinson, Carney (Sim), Howard Bold, Weller (Blake), Cousins, Fender (Nourse) Chowney (Hands).