Saturday 14th April 2012
East Midlands Counties League
HEANOR TOWN 1 BLACKWELL MINERS WELFARE 0
Josh Royce’s close range finish on the stroke of half time was enough to start the celebrations as Heanor Town were declared East Midlands Counties League champions.
But it was a game which could so easily have had a different conclusion. Indeed, for much of it Blackwell were the better side, and had their finishing been better they would have recorded their first ever East Midlands Counties League win over the Lions.
Neil West lost the ball from a corner and Stephen Cox, with an open goal to aim at hit the underside of the bar with his shot and the ball was scrambled clear only 44 second into the encounter.
And with Heanor playing like kittens who eyes had not yet opened they had another amazing let off on nine minutes when Matt Blake
raced in to meet a Danny O’Donnell cross and volley wide with only West to beat.
Nerves were playing a big part and Heanor struggled to get into the game as an attacking force.
West had to save again from Cox on 27 minutes, and the first signs that Heanor were coming out of their nerves was a fine run by Graham Wells six minutes later which deserved better than to break down on the edge of the penalty area.
Wells again got through two minutes later but this time his shot was saved by Wayne Smith.
Heanor lost skipper Brett Peel
35 minutes in through illness and West had to save again, this time from former Lion O’Donnell.
The vital goal came with almost the last kick of the first half. There was doubt about the free kick awarded on the edge of the penalty area, there were more doubts about the booking for culprit Jack Davies who did not appear to handle deliberately, and even more doubts about where the free kick was eventually taken from. But substitute Phil Austin’s vicious drive was to hot for Smith to hold and JOSH ROYCE was on hand to supply the finishing touch.
The second half began with Cox seeing his fly kick saved at full stretch by West at one end, and Wells firing wide across goal when put in by Jake Vernon at the other.
But the excitement in front of goal didn’t last and for the best part of the next half hour the highlight of attacking fever was ruined by off-side decisions at both ends.
Blackwell though might have run away with their game had their finishing been better. West saved from substitute Simon Wilkinson and Cox in quick succession, and a fierce shot from some distance from Danny O’Donnell flew agonisingly close to the angle.
’s header from a corner at the Wilmot Street end hit the top of the bar and from another flag kick Jake Vernon poked the ball over the bar.
Heanor had to play from the 74th minute onwards with the limping Lee Stevenson
a limping sort of link in midfield and Gary Webster
back defending because they had used up all their substitutes.
The Lions had cause once again to be grateful to Neil West for a simply brilliant save from Lanzel Reid seven minutes from the end, and the custodians smile grew bigger near the end when fellow Blackwell substitute Jarvis Salmon cleared the Mayfield Avenue stand with his shot.
It was a game Blackwell deserved much better from but their nil scoreline tells its own story, whilst for Heanor, players and supporters joined in celebration as League Vice Chairman David Holland presented the trophy to Brett Peel
HEANOR TOWN: Neil West, Lee Stevenson
, Tom Land, Carl Slater, Brett Peel
(Phil Austin 36), Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster
, Josh Royce, Nathan Benger
, Jake Vernon (Neil Grayson 73), Graham Wells (Stef Frost 68). Substitutes not used – Mark Littlewood, Matt Foster.
BLACKWELL MINERS WELFARE: Wayne Smith, Reece Littlejohn, Adam Campbell, Jack Davies, Matt Blake
, Jimmy Spiers (Simon Wilkinson 68), Joe McShane (Lanzel Reid 78), Chris Rhodes, Ben Bacon (Jarvis Salmon 53), Stephen Cox, Danny O’Donnell. Substitutes not used – Gareth Ellis, David Leak.
REFEREE: Thomas Hawkins (Belper)
YELLOW CARDS: Heanor – Gary Webster
(19), Phil Austin (84). Blackwell – Jack Davies (44), Adam Campbell (45), Reece Littlejohn (66)
SENT OFF: Glenn Kirkwood (88)
STAR LION: Neil West
NEXT IN ACTION:
Saturday April 21
Central Midlands League
HEANOR TOWN RESERVES v DUNKIRK RESERVES (3pm)
Wednesday April 25
Central Midlands League
HEANOR TOWN RESERVES v LONG EATON UNITED RESERVES (7.45pm)