Heath Continue in Hot Pursuit
By Stuart Morgan
The top 5 teams in the SCFL are now separated by just 2 points as the race for the title hot’s up and Pagham take over in pole position.
After the rain on Good Friday many though that Saturday would be a washout but only three matches fell and credit to the Loxwood committee and grounds staff as the pitch at Plaistow Road was in great condition for a football match and much needed as rescheduling fixtures is becoming a difficult planning exercise!
Heath were without the injured Nathan Cooper and Callum Saunders but welcomed back Alex Laing who lead the line, Kane Louis was rested with George Hayward playing the supporting role. Josh Heyburn was between the stick, Joel Daly, Jamie Cradock, Josh Spinks and Tom Graves made up the back line. Naim Rouane captained the side and besides him Karly Akehurst with Max Miller and Jamie Weston giving the width. Alongside Kane Louis on the bench was Melford Simpson, Maxime Agnoly and Scott Chamberlain.
Heath started the match well but the first real chance fell to the hosts as Josh Heyburn’s clearance was picked off and the ball back in found the striker but the shot was straight at Heyburn to keep the sides level. Heath pushed forwards but struggled to find that final ball to make the keeper work, the pressure did pay after a succession of corners the deadlock was broken. In the 11th minute Alex Laing’s deep corner was only pushed out towards the edge of the box by the Loxwood keeper Sam Smith, Jamie Weston took it under control before setting himself on his favoured left food and firing the ball into the roof of the net from 16 yards out.
Loxwood 0-1 Heath
Heath didn’t take their foot off the pedal and only a couple of good blocks in quick succession prevented the ball heading towards goal from Max Miller. With 18 minutes played a goalmouth scramble in the Heath area was eventually cleared by Naim Rouane, Heath immediately broke up field and a strike from just outside the box was adjudged to have hit the Loxwood defenders arm and the referee pointed to the spot. Alex Laing stepped up but the keeper guessed right going to his left and made a comfortable save.
Loxwood kept looking for a way back into the game and efforts from distance assured Josh Heyburn was kept on his toes.
Shot and save of the match came on 31 minutes with Jamie Weston getting the ball after a good Heath passage of play and hitting a dipping effort from 20 yards that Sam Smith did brilliantly to turn over. The save however was in vein as Alex Laing sent in a corner that Karly Akehurst got in front of his marker and steer his header into the far corner to double Heath’s lead.
Loxwood 0-2 Heath
The match began to be played out in the middle with both sides struggling to break down two well-disciplined back lines, a final chance did come and go with a sweeping move that finally came to Jamie Weston but his strike lacked the direction to beat the keeper as he came out to tighten the angle.
Half Time Loxwood 0-2 Heath
With the first half kicking off 5 minutes late and the same the second half it was already 10 past 4 before the action resumed unfortunately the entertainment of the first half didn’t as the game became littered with errors and not often from the players!
Loxwood were straight back in the game as Loxwood won a penalty, Joel Daly was put in a difficult position in his area and attempting to clear caught the Loxwood forward. Hayden Skerry stepped up and although Josh Heyburn got hands to the ball it carried too much power and ended in the top corner.
Loxwood 1-2 Heath
Heath looked to respond but another good block denied Max Miller from testing Sam Smith, Loxwood hit back from distance but again Josh Heyburn was right behind it. Next Jamie Weston got in but again couldn’t get the ball on target.
On 59 minutes a sliced clearance from Josh Spinks saw Josh Heyburn pick up the ball before the attacker 7 yards from goal, to the amusement and annoyance around the ground a back pass was given and indirect freekick awarded. Heath charged down the initial effort and the ball was then fired over the bar.
The two sides continued to trade efforts with Jamie Cradock making a good run but his strike was straight at the keeper, Loxwood again tried from distance that Josh Heyburn had to watch to make sure the ball didn’t sneak underneath him. Alex Laing then saw a headed attempt held although in hindsight he had got into a great position and had more time than he realised. Loxwood next effort flew over to the relief of the away support.
Melford Simpson replaced Jamie Weston on 67 minutes after the Heath man over stretched for a ball in a tackle.
Josh Heyburn was called into action a minute later as he did well to save a dangerous free kick from the hosts and Tom Graves was backing him up to clear the ball off the line.
On 75 minutes Scott Chamberlain replaced Jamie Cradock, Cradock was replaced after walking a fine line since picking up a yellow card late in the first half, unfortunately the home bench were not happy about the incident prior to the substitution and the Loxwood managers protests saw him sent to the stand, obviously something was said when passing the home bench as Cradock was then also shown a red card and asked to leave the bench.
With the stop start second half and late kick off the match finished just before 10 past 5, in the final 15 minutes of normal time and 10 of added on both teams got in good area’s but the only chance came from a fine strike by Joel Daly but an equally fine save from the Loxwood number one.
Full Time Loxwood 1-2 Heath
Man of the Match – Jamie Weston – Great goal and probably should and could have had a hat trick on the day.
Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said “really please to pick up all three points and continue this good run of form, on a different day we could have been out of sight before half time but credit to the opposition for not giving up and making a game of it. The second half was a strange 55 minutes that left us all puzzled at times but with the league so tight it’s picking up the points that is most vital at this stage of the season.
Next Match – Heath Vs Hassocks – Easter Monday – 11am KO – Hanbury Stadium