Leaders Edge Out Heath at the Death
Heath came close to denting Chichester’s title chase in a compelling tussle on a difficult surface not conducive to flowing football. The Bears were without influential midfielder Lee Carney who was only fit enough for a place on the bench after his injury in the dying moments of the victory over Little Common the previous week. Marlon Maxwell came back into the side with Andy Waddingham moving alongside Tom Howard Bold in midfield. With Tim Rivers pulling out late on Ben Whitely joined the squad for the first time and joined Charlie Leach Louie Blake and Conor Evento on the bench.
The hosts started well with the front four of Jamie Taylor, George Cousins, Devon Fender and Dean Wright showing excellent movement and Heath got into some good positions without really testing Chichester debutant keeper, ex Havant and Waterlooville Ryan Young. Chichester always got the ball forward quickly to the dangerous Scott Jones, Josh Clack and former Bears favourite Gicu Iordache and the Heath backline had to be at their best to keep them away from Keiron Thorp’s goal.
On twenty minutes Martyn Flack broke up a City attack and fed Andy Waddingham who exchanged passes with Taylor before sliding an inch perfect ball into the path of Cousins who under pressure from the defender rounded Young to finish in style. This gave Heath the confidence to push forward again and they began to control possession. They came close to doubling their lead when Young went full length to keep out Fender’s drive. At the other end Thorp had to keep out efforts from Iordache and Jones. Half time came with Heath having had the better of the half but knowing the leaders would be determined to get back into the game on the restart.
Heath began the second half as they had finished the first and Taylor had a shot blocked. But slowly the visitors began to push the Bears back and Thorp did well to hold onto a Jones header. Iordache fired narrowly wide and then with Heath appealing for handball in the build up the ball found Jones on the edge of the box and he turned to fire past Thorp. Heath responded well and went straight up the other end with crosses from Wright and Cousins causing panic in the City box and a corner from Howard Bold being narrowly diverted over the bar by a Chi defender.
With Wright and Cousins having to leave the field through injury and Chichester going all out for the 3 points, Heath were subjected to sustained pressure as the final whistle approached. In the 90th minute after several brave blocks in and around the area, Heath appeared to have weathered the storm as a Chichester forward fired high and wide, only to see the referee signalling for a corner. The Heath players and management were less than happy and things got worse as the far post delivery was met Clacks thumping header and the scorer was submerged under the rest of his team mates. Heath did their best to reply in the dying moments but Young dealt with a couple of crosses and City understandably took the ball into the corners to run down the clock.
So it was a case of so near and yet so far for Heath who should be proud of their efforts and the fact that they are now competing with the very best in the league. It has been a difficult season with the uncertainty of when they will be moving into the new ground and the demolition going on around them has meant a 200 trek to the pitch, not to mention the lack of social and fund raising facilities. With the move now imminent, they can start making plans to do even better next season and will want to keep the momentum up till the end of the season.
Heath: Flack, Robinson, Maxwell, Brackpool, Howard-Bold, Waddingham, Wright(Whitely), Fender, Taylor, Cousins(Blake) Subs: Leach, Evento