Heath Maintain Excellent Run
Heath have now played 14 games since Christmas, during which time they have only lost twice; the nightmare at AFC Uckfield, and to a controversial late winner against runaway leaders Chichester. They made only their second journey to the impressive Priory Lane, home of Eastbourne Borough, to take on Langney Wanderers who themselves came into the game in good form and have surely secured their future in the Premier Division.
Heath welcomed back Dean Wright and Ollie Moore but unfortunately last week’s debutant Scott Buchanan suffered an injury in the warm up and was not risked. Andy Waddingham was not available and Renato Carvalho and Charlie Leach completed the squad. Manager Steve Painter showed the flexibility of his team by reverting to a 4-4-2 formation for the first time in a while, opting to pair Devon Fender with ex Eastbourne Borough favourite Jamie Taylor.
It was Fender who had the first important touch, heading on Ryan Brackpool’s throw for Martyn Flack to head the ball over Hutchins but the referee disallowed the goal for a foul on the keeper.
Heath continued to play some neat and effective football on the excellent 4G surface and it was not long before they took the lead. Great combination play between Lee Carney and Taylor released Fender inside the box and he buried a first time shot into the bottom corner. Wanderers replied with some pacey attacks down their right flank with the impressive Gary Ingram and started to try their luck from distance with Kieron Thorp having to turn one shot away at full stretch and then saw another cross from the right float over his head and bounce back off the cross bar. At the other end Taylor, Fender and Doughty all came close. The half ended with the game much more open than usual, possibly due to the true playing surface and the hot sun.
The second half continued in similar vein with Wanderers still posing a threat and Brad Peters and Brackpool had to be alert with the experienced Evan Archibald ready to pounce on any slip. Facing a bright and very low sun, Heath had to repel several long balls into their box with Thorp punching one shot away that he appeared to lose in the sun until the last moment. At the other end there was plenty of threat from the visitors with George Cousins forcing a save from Hutchins and then Taylor setting up Mason Doughy 8 yards out, only for the former Heath youth player to blast his shot against the underside of the bar and out. Doughty all but atoned for the miss with a thunderous free kick that Hutchins somehow got down to turn for a corner.
With time running out Wanderers sent a long ball down the middle and their striker collided with Bradley Peters, the referee however thought the incident worthy of a second yellow and Heath were down to 10. There was further controversy when Jamie Taylor’s goal bound drive was deflected wide by a defender’s elbow but nothing was given despite Kenny Macreadie the Wanderers manager claiming that it was the best save of the match.
So the game ended with the crowd having seen an entertaining game between a Langney side who were much improved from the side that visited Heath earlier in the season and Steve Painter’s side who kept another clean sheet and with Carvalho coming off the bench for his debut, showed they are already building for next season. But before then there is the small matter of two local derbies against Loxwood and Horsham YMCA both of whom will be seeking to avenge home defeats at the hands of the Bears. Next up is the visit of relegation threatened Eastbourne United who will be desperate for the points on Saturday. Even at this stage of the season every game has an edge.
Heath: Thorp, Flack, Robinson, Peters, Brackpool, Carney, Moore, Doughty(Leach), Fender(Wright), Taylor, Cousins(Carvalho). Unused Sub Buchanan
Report By Sam Chapman