Saturday 11th February 2006
By Paul Parsons
Anticipation was high for this winnable encounter, however we have sometimes seemed to struggle against opposition that we should beat.
With Heath being high scoring and high conceding we knew an early goal would be crucial. We were in control for the early part of the game, even the kick off went in our favour....well Heath kicked off!
We quickly set about putting pressure on the Heath goal, with wave after wave of attacking football in the first ten minutes, Richard Coyne and Steve Viner winning most of the possession and breaking up play. With Richard really going about his business like a silent assassin, getting in vital challenges and supporting the front two of Antony Dine and Paul Burford very well. This week in form Ben Tomkins was allowed a ''free role'' on the right of midfield (this is quite similar to Ivor''s ''free roll'' after the game but a little more demanding).
Having said that Ivor didn''t touch the ball more than once in the first 35 minutes of the game which is a real credit to the back four, of the very able and good battling performance of Joe Lipton, the steadiness of Todd Arnold, Jack Harding moving in to centreback and able to quickly get across to the nippy forwards and snuff things out; and the debut of Peter Morton at left back.
Anyway with ten minutes gone, Colin had a couple of great chances to put us well in control. One he could have shot earlier and harder and another after great work from Antony and Ben to get a cross fired in only for Colin to meet at full throttle and side foot just wide. To be fair Colin had done great work to just get in the space in the first place. With the torpedo throws of Peter to contend with, every throw in the Heath last quarter was like a corner, and with Peter able to throw us out of trouble and give some relief to the rest (and a rest for Todd) it meant that Heath were very much under the cosh.
Heath did not make it easy on themselves at this point as the keeper looked jittery, and it was from one of his goal kicks that Antony chested the ball first time into the path of an onrushing Paul, for Paul to coolly slot the ball into the back of the net. A deserved goal and I felt that would lead to a goal fest. I should have known better as last time we played Heath they never gave up, and although we kept piling on the pressure, with less than a minute on the clock Heath broke down the left and floated a high ball into the box, with Ivor hesitating it was down to the lanky centre forward to nod the ball over the keeper and watch as the ball slowly bounced across the line with all the back four looking helplessly on.
We knew it was not deserved but we also knew that Heath would be well up for the second half. Again we came out with the right attitude and for the first 10 minutes had chance after half chance with Paul having the best of a couple of chances but just not connecting properly. Antony pulled up and it was for Darren to come on and the manager Ed decided to push on Ben. Almost immediately this made a difference, with Steve spoiling a Heath attack, Richard pouncing on a loose ball and trying to place the ball perfectly in the bottom right hand corner. How the Heath keeper scrambled across to get a hand on it I''m not sure but Ben flew in and scrambled it home in the ensuing melee. 2-1 and over 30 minutes left.
Ben Duffy came on for the deservedly tired Paul and again created a nuisance and really injected some more pressure on the Heath defence, this really is a team game and it showed as both subs contributed to keeping Heath at bay. In the dying 5 minutes everyone was getting tired and still Heath pushed for an equaliser, hitting the post (well judged Ivor!) and coming close with a couple of corners that Ivor fiercely fisted away. We beat Heath 3-0 in December in a good spell for us which led to an undefeated 5 game spell. I would love to think we can go one better with Elite this week, and even better would be for me to be available the following week and not be able to get in the squad, remember I have played all positions over the years and I really would like to think that everyone can lift their game against this tough opposition, if not for the three points then to keep me out of the team!
Enjoy the game and see you (or not!) in two weeks.