Heath Extend Run
Broadbridge Heath made it 3 wins on the spin with victory over East Preston on a very difficult surface. Heath lined up without Charlie Leach, Tim Cook, Tim Rivers, Martyn Flack all of whom were unavailable and the still injured Devon Fender. The previous week’s match winner Richard Wetton moved to right back, Jamie Robinson returned to the other full back position, Dean Wright led the attack and Heath welcomed back Scot Weller to the squad. Max Howell made his last appearance before going to work abroad for 5 months.
There was only 43 seconds on the clock when Wright dropped deep and turned to chip an inch perfect pass to Ollie Moore who on the half turn, chested it down and buried it in the far corner to give the hosts the perfect start. Heath showed they were determined not to sit on such an early lead and with Tom Howard Bold, Lee Carney and Moore controlling the midfield they continued to pressurise the visitors defence with crosses from Max Howell and George Cousins narrowly failing to find a final touch. With second goal not materialising Heath began to force the play a little bit too much and this allowed East Preston to get back into the game with the dangerous Lucas Pattenden threatening down the right flank and some dangerous balls being delivered from free kicks and long throws. Just before half time Heath got their passing going again and Moore was narrowly wide at the end of a 4 man move. It was also a relief that the floodlights that had been very reluctant to fully come on were back to full power, otherwise the game would not have been able to be completed.
The second half started quietly with the Bears largely in control and probing for the all-important second goal. Howell and Cousins both continued to get behind the visitor’s defence and deep into the penalty area only to be thwarted by keeper Bentley. With 20 minutes to go the ball was laid into the path of Wright who blasted the ball goal wards and it deflected off Andy Waddingham giving Bentley no chance.
The way the game had been going this looked to have sealed the points for Heath. However, the old saying that 2-0 is a dangerous lead came true as East Preston gained possession from a Thorp clearance and fed Daniel Huet who span and finished into the same bottom corner that Moore had found 75 minutes earlier. This was the signal for the visitors to go all out for an equaliser and with a series of free kicks and corners to defend, the finale was not as comfortable as Sam Chapman, deputising for the absent Steve Painter, would have wanted. However, the defence marshalled by the excellent Waddingham and Ryan Brackpool stood firm and other than a punch clear from a whipped in cross, Kieron Thorp in the home goal was not called into action and the three points were safe.
Overall it was a very solid performance with every player contributing to a good level. Scott Weller made his long awaited comeback from the bench but was unfortunate to pick up a booking for a foul on Pattenden when he had not even put in a challenge. This was always going to be tough game as East Preston are always well organised and hard working with some players that can really hurt you, so the Bears players left for their pre-Christmas night out with the sense of a job well done.
Heath: Thorp, Wetton, Robinson, Waddingham, Brackpool, Howard-Bold, Carney, Moore, Wright, Cousins(Weller), Howell. Subs Maxwell, Riecker, Blake
Report by Sam Chapman