Heath Snatch 3 points deep in Injury Time
It was always going to be a tough match against high scoring Chichester but Heath held their nerve and secured a late late win at Hanbury.
Manager Shaun Saunders made a few changes from midweek, Simon Lehkyj continued in goal, Jamie Weston slotted in at left back with Luc Doherty on the right, Nathan Cooper returned and alongside him Jahmahl King skippered the side. Joel Daly again returned to the starting line up with familiar faces Karly Akehurst, Scott Chamberlain and Max Miller. A regular pairing of George Hayward and Trevor McCreadie lead from the front. On the bench today was Alfie Rogers, Bailie Rogers, Omar Bukleb, Tom Graves and Callum Saunders.
Chichester the current leading scorers in the league would no doubt cause a problem going forwards but they do also concede so for the spectators it was always interesting what approach Heath would take to the game but with the game just 3 minutes old any game plan of the visitors had would need to switch to plan b, Joel Daly flicked the ball on which under pressure from Trevor McCreadie defender Martin Ellis lost the ball and McCreadie kept his footing finding Joel Daly who had continued his run into the box, Daly squared for Max Miller who was prevented from scoring but a last ditch tackle from Dan Heggarty but the ball fell kindly into George Haywards path and he kept his cool to fire Heath into an early lead.
Heath 1-0 Chichester City
In the 10th minute Heath were forced into a substitution when Max Miller felt the fall force of a 50/50 tackle with Chi right back Kieran Hartley and was unable to continue, Callum Saunders replaced him. The change in players and positions saw Chi midfielder Josh Clack move to the left to deal with Saunders but also helped put the player in the right place for the equaliser 2 minutes later.
A long ball from Martin Ellis split both Jahmahl King and Jamie Weston and the league’s current top scorer Scott Jones early strike was pushed away by Simon Lehkyj but the loose ball was put straight back across the box where Josh Clack on the left slotted home from around 8 yards out past Nathan Cooper on the line.
Heath 1-1 Chichester City
The goal gave the visitors a lift as they then had a goal chalked off for offside and a strike well blocked by Nathan Cooper.
There was a flurry of yellow cards (two for each side) as both sides looked for the upper hand in the game, Scott Chamberlain saw a well hit strike clip the defender and sting taken out of it enabling a simple stop. With 38 played Joel Daly showed his class as he cut in and and stuck a shot that only just missed the far corner.
As the break approached the visitors had two efforts from distance of which one went over not troubling Simon Lehkyj and the other well blocked. The final chance of the half fell for Heath as Scott Chamberlain fed Karly Akehurst but his strike lacked direction and ended up over the bar.
Half Time Heath 1-1 Chichester City
There was a real feel that the game could go either way, Chichester seemed well drilled holding good shape and often hunting in packs of two and three to win the ball back, they broke with speed and never afraid to shoot, Heath in contrast looked for ball retention and creative build up play but with both sides capable of scoring it wasn’t clear which way it would go.
Chi opened the chances of the half but the ball was high and wide, Karly Akehurst responded with an effort that was dragged just wide.
The first turning point of the game happened on 55 minutes Jahmahl King was caught in possession by Dan Heggarty, he raced clear and brought a fine stop by Simon Lehkyj, however the ball fell back to Heggarty who found Lehkyj in fine form as he again made a great close range save that Karly Akehurst finally cleared the danger from.
Chichester went on to have their best spell in the game but the Heath back line kept the shots from distance of which two went over the bar and two routinely dealt with by Simon Lehkyj.
Heath continued to look for openings and from one of the few corners in the game Karly Akehurst went close with a good near post header but it failed to hit the target.
On 65 minutes the next turning point of the game, The Chichester left back Drew Smith decided to put his head into Callum Saunders face and gave the referee no choice but to show a straight red.
Which Chi now reduced they again changed their style to pure counter attacking football and organised defending.
With the game entering the final 10 minutes despite tired legs Heath pushed for a winner but Scott Chamberlain couldn’t find the target from a direct free kick and saw a low effort well blocked by a well drilled back line. Chichester again brought the best out of Simon Lehkyj late on with a flying save.
With the game 2 minutes into the 6 minutes of injury time Heath had a good shout for a penalty waved away as Joel Daly got in front of his marker and seemed to be clipped from behind but play was waved on.
With just two minutes remaining Heath got that little bit of luck that had been missing the last few games, Nathan Cooper sent a diagonal ball over to the left, Joel Daly and his marker both jumped but couldn’t reach which lead to the ball falling at Jamie Weston’s feet, he looked up and drove the ball across the 6 yard box which sliding in to clear Chi’s number 5 Harry Williams could only turn the ball past his own keeper Ant ender.
Heath 2-1 Chichester City
Just over a minute to play and Chichester couldn’t get the ball back for any last gasp equaliser as Heath held firm and secured a very important 3 points.
Full Time Heath 2-1 Chichester City FC
Man of the Match – Simon Lehkyj – Made a double save with the scores level and a fine flying stop late on which really set Heath up to go on and win the game.
Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said “That was a really important win for us today, we know how well Chichester have been playing and over the last few weeks we have been missing that spark but that little bit of luck and determination right at the end will hopefully spur us on in the coming weeks”.
Photos of today’s game by Grahame Lehkyj can be viewed on his Flickr site by clicking HERE
Next Match –Selsey FC – Tuesday 7th November 7:45pm Kick Off – Sussex Senior Cup Round 2