Heath Take Credible Draw at League Leaders
By Stuart Morgan
Heath were twice pegged back at Cray Wanderers but left with a great point to keep them in nicely in the playoff zone
(Main image by Grahame Lehkyj)
With just seven matches remaining before today's match with champions elect Cray Wanderers the Heath side knew to keep pace with the surrounding playoff sides they must get something from the match against a side that has lost just twice this season.
Manager Shaun Saunders gave starts to new signings Cameron Tutt and Kenny Pogue
The home side settled into the match and enjoyed early spells of pressure that saw an effort straight at Josh Heyburn on 2 minutes and then on 9 minutes the ball dragged across goal, the match settled down and for 15 minutes neither side threatened, although the hosts played the ball around they failed to find the right ball in the final third as Heath defended well.
Heath had their first chance of the match on 25 minutes but Trevor McCreadie's effort across goal didn't trouble Nick Blue in the Cray goal.
The best chance of the afternoon came on 32 minutes as Cray burst through the middle breaking the offside trap but Heyburn was as alert as ever quick off his line to save at the feet of the advancing striker.
Alex Laing's quick thinking on 40 minutes forced Nick Blue into action as his free kick from 40 yards need quick feet an a great tip over for just a corner.
It was from this corner that the scoring was opened, Callum Saunders sent the ball in and Melford Simpson met it perfectly but the ball crashed against the cross bar, Karly Akehurst reacted the quickest to head the ball in and give Heath the lead.
Frustratingly for Heath the lead was only held for two minutes and the hosts were back on level terms before the break. Melford Simpson conceded a free kick 30 yards out, the ball in was only partially cleared and the return ball in was brilliantly volleyed past Josh Heyburn by Joe Taylor.
Half Time - Cray Wanderers 1-1 Heath
The hosts started the second half with intent with two efforts in the first 4 minutes flying just over the bar, Heath looked to respond through Alex Laing but the attacking full back saw his effort from 20 yards take a deflection and loose its power.
With 52 minutes played Cray again went close as a corner in found Nelson Mitchell unmarked but his guided header flicked off the crossbar.
Heath had to put all hands to the pump as Cray looked to take the lead, Nathan Cooper made a fine block and then several low blocks to stop a goal bound effort on 57 minutes.
Against the run of play it was again Heath that took the lead, Callum Saunders received the ball and fed out to the right to Alex Laing, Saunders carried on his run and Laing's ball in was pin point for Saunders who headed in his 26th goal of the season giving Nick Blue no chance.
Just like the first half the lead was short lived and again just two minutes later the game was all square again, and effort on the hour from the edge of the box was well saved by Heyburn but the firm hand saw the ball drop back down into the six yard box and Joe Taylor was in the right place to stab the ball in.
Cray kept the pressure on as you would expect from the league leaders but the back line of Nathan Cooper, Josh Spinks, Alex Laing and Cameron Tutt, shielded by Byron Napper and Karly Akehurst was restricting the hosts from efforts from outside the box, when they did finally break that line Josh Heyburn was there to make a fine save as he did in the 65th minute.
With 78 minutes played Melford Simpson did well in the box but his powerful effort could only find the side netting from a tight angle
Heath continued to dig deep as the match entered the final 10 minutes, Heyburn again made a good save and the covering defender had to clear off the line with 6 minutes to play, then 2 minutes later Cray again broke through with a route one ball but Heyburn was quick off his line to close the attacker and his effort ended up over the bar.
Cray's final effort of the match came 3 minutes from time but again Heyburn stood in the way of 3 points making a fine stop with his feet.
It was Heath who really could have snatched all three points as the match entered the 90th minutes with Trevor McCreadie robbing the full back on the touch lineand just keeper Nick Blue to beat but his effort from the edge of the area went about and inch the wrong side of the post.
Full Time Cray Wanderers 2-2 Heath
Man of the Match - Josh Heyburn - Showed quality throughout against the best side in the league