Winning Run Comes to an End at Peacehaven
Often there are many negatives in defeat but today the Heath lads could take nothing but praise for 70 minutes playing with a man down.
Manager Shaun Saunders was without George Hayward, Joel Daly, Callum Saunders and Luc Doherty. Naim Rouane made a welcome return to the bench along side Karel Kutaa and youngster Alessandro Nanni. Heath lined up with Simon Lehkyj in goal, a back line of Bailie Rogers, Omar Bukleb, Nathan Cooper and skipper Tom Graves. In Midfield were George Fenton, Kane Louis, Jamie Weston and Karly Akehurst. It meant a front two pairing of Max Miller and Alfie Rogers.
The first half hour of the match saw both sides settle well, Heath saw an early header from Nathan Cooper drift harmlessly wide and Simon Lehkyj dealt comfortably with a free kick effort from Haven. The first proper save of the game was made by the hosts keeper as he got down really well to his left to deny Jamie Weston.
The game then was stop start through free kicks (often head scratching) for both sides and several offsides for Alfie Rogers and Max Miller. On 23 minutes a reall good chance went begging as George Fenton did brilliantly to get to the bye line but his ball across just evaded everyone.
On 29 minutes Heath were reduced to 10 men as a ball over the top was handled outside his area by Simon Lehkyj and he was shown a straight red card.
The feshuffle saw Nathan Cooper don the gloves, George Fenton move back into right back and Alfie Rogers to the right of midfield.
The resulting free kick was dragged wide and Cooper not tested at the first opportunity. Despite the numerical disadvantage, Heath raised their game and continued to ask questions of the home side. With 35 minutes played Bailie Rogers strike was well blocked by the home defence earning just a corner. Two minutes later Max Miller was fouled right on the edge of the area, Jamie Weston stepped up but again was denied by a full length save.
On the stroke of half time a good move down the Peacehaven left saw Heath advance into the Peacehaven box but yet again a ‘body on the line’ block prevented what looked like the opening goal of the game.
Half Time Peacehaven 0-0 Heath
The opening of the second half saw more Heath pressure applied but resulting corners came to nothing, with 54 minutes on the clock Balie Rogers did really well down the left and his cut back found Max Miller but he couldn’t guide the ball inside the far post.
A minute later Peacehaven won a free kick just inside the the Heath half, the ball in was met by the Peacehaven player just ahead of Tom Graves who headed the ball back towards goal, Karly Akehurst looked to clear the danger but was unfortunate that the ball sliced off him and into corner of the net.
Peacehaven 1-0 Heath
The Heath heads did not drop and they continued to push for a way back into the game and in the process drawing many fouls from the home side. Alfie Rogers movement was creating spaces and on 68 minutes he was disappointed not to make better contact as the keeper got down to hold the ball.
Heath’s pressure was starting to ask questions and a shout for handball in the area was waved away half way through the second half, Alfie Rogers again saw resolute defending on 75 minutes as his strike was again brilliantly blocked.
As Heath pressed forwards Peacehaven started to exploit the space in counter attacking football, with 79 minutes played a fierce strike from 20 yards flew over the top not troubling Nathan Cooper, It was then that Heath made another tactical move sending Nathen Cooper up front and Omar Bukleb becoming the third keeper to go in the Heath goal on this bank holiday Monday.
With 82 minutes played another quick break could have settled the game for the hosts but stand in keeper Omar Bukleb proved lightening reactions as he somehow turned a strike from 6 yards out onto the bar and then Heath cleared the danger.
Another Peacehaven chance was easily field by Bukleb as Heath then turned it into one way traffic for the closing stages, Jamie Weston was again left frustrated as another good save was made by the Peacehaven keeper. Unfortunately for the Peacehaven side the keeper who was having an inspired game was taking every opportunity to slow it down, the referee kept track and awarded 9 extra minutes to be played.
Heath saw two good shouts for penalties again waved away to the amusement of most including a Peacehaven defender who couldn’t believe it was not given, first Max Miller got caught from behind after toeing the ball away from the defender and then even more clearly Karly Akehurst got to the ball first before getting a boot in the top of the leg but nothing given.
Deep into injury time saw three more chances for Heath with Karly Akehurst’s strike blocked and then he also saw a header clear the bar, finally Nathan Cooper turned well in the area but his strike just missed the far post as Peacehaven held out to claim all three points.
Full Time Haven 1-0 Heath
Heath - Man of the Match – Omar Bukleb – Started at right back, moved to centre half and ended up in goal, Omar had a solid game across the back and also pulled off the save of the match late on.
Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said “I’m proud of the lads today as they gave their all, it has always been a difficult place for us to come and today was no different but to play for 70 minutes with 10 men and come up just short of getting something from the game shows what a fantastic set of lads we have.”
Video Highlights of today’s game filmed by Peter Chapman can be viewed on the HHTFC Youtube channel by clicking HERE
Next Match – Tunbridge Wells – Saturday 2nd September 3pm Kick Off – Hanbury Stadium