Heanor started their home league season with a hard fought victory against an organised and determined Pickering team. Heanor went behind early in the game but fought back to earn victory with a dramatic late winner. It was also good to see a large crowd attend the game and give the lions their support.
Pickering took an early lead through Tony Hackworth, a ball played forward to midfield was won in a tackle by Hackworth, he burst through clear on goal and kept his nerve to hit the ball in the corner of the net. Pickering were dominating the early stages of the game and Heanor were struggling to get their game together. A good passing move by Pickering ended with Lewis Taylor hitting a shot across goal and just wide. Heanor were at this point struggling to contain the lively Pickering midfield and attack. Taylor again hitting a shot from outside the area which Ian Deakin got down to save.
After the first quarter of an hour play Heanor started to apply some pressure to the Pickering goal. Sam Jones meeting a ball into the goal area and sending a looping header over the bar. Despite their pressure Heanor were still finding it difficult to create any clear chances then Paulo Piliero sent a pass down the left to Courey Grantham who showing his speed and control took the ball into the area and along the by-line cutting in and hitting a powerful shot that was cleared by the Pickering defence, this run instigating a period of heavy pressure on the Pickering goal.
From the following corner the Heanor header was cleared off the line and the follow up shot was also blocked. From another corner a Nick Hall header was blocked and Gary Ricketts follow up header was also cleared. Pickering at this point we're finding it difficult to get the ball out of their area. Pickering eventually relieving the pressure when Joe Danby went on a weaving run through midfield and hit a shot at Heanor's goal which Deakin caught easily.
Heanor were soon putting more pressure on Pickering's goal, a Piliero corner to the far post being headed just wide by Sam Jones and Ady Hawes long throw into Ricketts, whose goal bound header was cleared by the under pressure defence.
Pickering had the last chance of the first half Hackworth from inside Heanor's area hitting a powerful shot which produced an excellent save from Ian Deakin.
Heanor came out for the second half determined to equalise and were immediately on the attack Sam Jones taking the ball forward, beating a couple of defenders and hitting a shot just wide. Courey Grantham was then fouled Piliero hitting the resulting free kick into the area with Grantham heading just over. Heanor then got the chance to score which their play deserved, a corner was played into the area and Grantham was impeded by a Pickering defender, the linesman flagging for this infringement which the referee did not see. This resulted in a number of Pickering players surrounding the linesman to voice their disapproval. During this incident Hackworth was booked, the referee after consulting the linesman then awarded a penalty, while Heanor were preparing to take the penalty the referee heard Hackworth swear and he was booked a second time and sent off, much to his dismay. Sam Jones kept his cool despite all the distractions and thumped the ball into the top corner to equalise on 57 minutes.
Heanor now made the extra man count and penned Pickering into their half, from a ball into the Pickering area Jamie Brown, on as a sub for Jared Holmes, headed against the bar; the rebound was also headed against the bar by Ricketts. A follow up shot was then saved as the Pickering goal led a charmed life. In one of their now rare attacks Joel Ramm had a good run forward for Pickering beating a couple of players but his low shot was well saved by Deakin.
Heanor still kept the pressure up as time was running out Jamie Brown having a shot blocked by Tom Woodhead in the Pickering goal. Heanor then took the lead on 85 minutes, from a corner Chris Shaw headed goal wards the ball hitting Pickering defender Robbie Hawkes on the line and rebounded against the post and into the goal.
Heanor were able to see the remaining minutes out without any difficulty and claim a deserved win.
While Heanor were not at their free flowing best they showed a lot of character and determination to win after going a goal down against one of the better teams in the division. It was more of a determined team performance rather than one of individual performances but there were some important moments, Ian Deakins save just before half time to prevent Heanor going further behind, Sam Jones showing his coolness under pressure to score the penalty despite all the distractions and Chris Shaw's late header that resulted in the winning goal.
It was good to see a good attendance which helped to create a good atmosphere and well done to all the supporters who attended the game.
Many thanks to match reporter Mick Jones for his report