Title Opportunity Opens Up As Heath Record Ninth Successive Victory
By Peter Chapman
It's all to play for as the SCFL Premier Division heads for an exciting climax
Haywards Heath Town will go into the final two games of the SCFL season with not just a potential promotion place up for grabs, but the league title too.
Having tamed the Lions on Saturday with a 3-0 home win against promotion rivals Pagham, Shaun Saunders’ men headed to Broadbridge Heath Leisure Centre on Tuesday evening to face some Bears and survived to tell the tale, and what a tale it was.....
On a difficult surface, there was much trepidation in Heath’s performance for the first half an hour before they finally took the lead through Karly Akehurst’s diving header from an Alex Laing corner out the right. It was Akehurst’s fifth goal in six games as he continues to flourish in the number 10 role.
Heath were made to wait long into the second half to score another as Captain Naz Rouane hit a long deep ball which found Melford Simpson in the box. The imposing striker out-jumped his marker to power a header down past Conor Evento into the back of the Broadbridge Heath net to double Heath’s lead in the 81st minute.
Callum Saunders was then introduced having missed the last six games with a hamstring injury that he sustained against Lancing. He made an instant impact by curling the ball around Evento at the near post after Alex Laing had dispossessed the Broadbridge Heath left-back with a really good tackle before setting up the goal scorer.
Having provided two assists, Laing then got on the score sheet himself with the final kick of the game as his 30 yard free kick from out on left found the top right corner of the goal to seal a 4-0 victory.
Meanwhile, rivals Three Bridges slipped to a 3-1 loss at Chichester City to blow the title race wide open. They trail Heath by 5 points but still have two games in hand.
This Saturday, Heath entertain Horsham YMCA at Hanbury Stadium where a win will guarantee at least second place. With Three Bridges having to play 4 games in 8 days to close out the season, the engraver may have to prepare to write a name beginning with ‘H’ on the league winners’ trophy come April 29th. Strap yourselves in folks; we’re in for a thrilling ride!
Man Of The Match: Alex Laing
Two assists and a brilliant free kick to put the icing on the cake. Heath’s combative winger put in a great shift and reaped the rewards.
After the game, manager Shaun Saunders said:
I don’t think the performance was great tonight, but the pitch wasn’t conducive to our flowing passing game. We tried hard and stuck to our principles and got the win and a clean sheet.
It’s not the time of the season for being pretty, it’s about getting results now and we dug in and got the job done.
I’ve really pleased with the succession of clean sheets (five in a row), but it’s not just the back five, it’s the whole unit. From Melford Simpson, backwards, we’ve been solid and we’re really made up about it.
I’m buzzing for Saturday’s game against Horsham YMCA, it can’t come soon enough. I’ll tell you now, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are going to get in the way of Saturday, big time. We can’t wait. We’ve worked our socks off all season to get where we are now and we won’t be taking our foot off the gas. These boys are relentless now.