On Thursday night Heath U23s travelled to Mill Road, Arundel one of my favourite grounds in the Southern Combination League with the backdrop of the historic Arundel castle in the background a picture postcard ground. Not that you could admire any of that view on Thursday evening when it was pitch black, misty and freezing cold.
The home team started well moving the ball around a perfect playing surface and using both flanks to put the Heath defence under a lot of pressure but all too often that final ball was missing, either off target or straight to Heath’s goalkeeper Conor Evento who gathered comfortably.
It took a while for the Bears to respond but gradually they got more and more into the game with the pace of Renato Carvalho, Jake Hull and Louis Blake capable of causing problems to any defence in the league but there was a lot of fortune around the opening goal.
With 30 minutes gone the Arundel centre-half, who had been struggling with a damaged boot, left the field of play to have it repaired, with rolling subs it did seem a bit odd that the home-side would prefer to play with 10 players rather than just swap someone over while he repaired his footwear and that proved to be costly as Louis Blake exploited the gap left by the defender and ran through on goal, the keeper came sprinting off his line at the same time a defender came running back, they both collided with each allowing Blake to dribble the ball around the obstacle and run it into the net to make it 1-0 to the Bears.
The game swung in Arundel’s favour just before the break when Sam Truelove reacted badly to an incident and was immediately shown a straight red card by the match referee.
With Heath down to 10 the Mullets flew out the blocks in the second half and swarmed all over the Bears but were continually denied goal scoring opportunities by some superb last ditch defending in particular Harry Balfour in for his first start since the 29th November and Jadon Morrone back to the sort of form we all know he’s capable of.
The introduction and the extra pace of Dane Riecker after 10 minutes swung the game in the Bears favour with the front man working really hard for his team and coming back at times to help out the defence when needed. With 61 minutes gone the Bears made it 2-0 on the counter-attack when Carvalho netting his first goal since returning to the club, suddenly it was all Broadbridge Heath with attack after attack and Riecker wrapped up the scoring in the closing minutes when he went down the left cut inside and hit a low shot past the Arundel keeper.
A really good performance by the 10-man Heath side who move up to 5th in the division.