Bears’ comeback downs Magpies
Heath recovered from what manager Steve Painter felt was one of their poorest 45 minutes for a long time to make it 6 wins from 8 and end a 2 match losing run, against local rivals Loxwood on Boxing Day morning.
Heath made one change from the team that lost narrowly to Saltdean with under 23 keeper Conor Evento coming in for the unavailable Kieron Thorp and it was Evento that kept Heath in the game during the first half.
Although possession was evenly shared and Heath had plenty of attacks on the home goal, it was Loxwood who always appeared to carry the greater threat and it was not a surprise when Ashley Mutongerwa eventually found the net after Evento had saved 3 consecutive efforts in the space of a couple of seconds. Shortly after this Nicholas Mynhardt broke clear with the Heath defenders expecting the offside flag. Evento blocked his first effort and with the striker about to put in the rebound, pounced to bravely grab the loose ball and stop the hosts doubling their lead.
Heath had their chances with George Cousins, Dean Wright, Richard Wetton and Ollie Moore all putting shots over the bar. Then as half time approached a Wetton long throw caused panic in the home defence with Wright’s effort hitting the bar and Martyn Flack following up to smash the ball into the net from close range. As Manager Steve Painter said, “the goal did not change the half time talk and we had to sort a few things out”.
Heath started the second half looking a far more effective unit, with the outstanding Lee Carney dominating midfield, and began to push the hosts back with Cousins, Moore and Wright all getting into good positions in the penalty area but failing to find the target. Then 10 minutes after the restart, Liam Matthews’ clearance fell to Richard Wetton about 45 yards out and he drilled the ball back on target only to see Matthews manage to touch his shot onto the bar, but with George Cousins winning the race for the rebound Heat took the lead they had been threatening.
The second half continued as a mirror image of the first with both sides having their share of attacks but this time Heath carrying the greater threat, Ryan Brackpool’s effort hitting the crossbar and Evento only having one save of note to make. As the game entered the closing minutes Heath, having not managed to find the goal that would have made the three points totally secure, were content to keep possession and run down the clock to a hard fought victory.
Heath now make the short trip to Horsham YMCA, who are looking good for promotion at this stage, and Steve Painter will be hoping to maintain his team’s challenge for the top 6.
Heath: Evento, Flack, Robison, Waddingham, Brackpool. Carney, Howard-Bold, Moore, Wright, Cousins, Wetton (Jones 70),
Subs: Millbarrow, Balfour, Robinson
Report By: Sam Chapman