Heath made the short journey to Arundel knowing the hosts needed a point to ensure they would not be relegated from the Premier division irrespective of other results. Mason Doughty’s swollen ankle restricted him to a place on the bench and Dean Wright was unavailable. Steve Painter’s squad included 11 ex youth and junior team players and their aim was to make club history by achieving the highest ever points total in the top division to go with the highest ever finish.
The strong wind made for difficult conditions and after the first few minutes Painter changed the shape of the side and Heath began to take control with the movement of Jamie Taylor and Devon Fender causing the home defence problems. On 22 minutes Lee Carney and Taylor repeated the free kick routine that had worked at Crawley Down and although Taylor was denied by Stevens in the home goal, Ryan Brackpool lashed in the loose ball.
With George Cousins and Louie Blake raiding down the wings, Arundel were under pressure to keep the score down and after 31 minutes Martyn Flack picked out Cousins who cut inside and then released Fender who had drifted wide. Heath’s top scorer beat his man and put in the perfect cross for Taylor to finish clinically for 2-0
Half time arrived with the news that Eastbourne United were level with Pagham. Eastbourne needed the three points and a 5 goal swing to stay up and send Arundel down. Heath expected the hosts to try and shut up shop and maintain the 2 goal deficit but the game continued to be open and 15 minutes into the second half Taylor was put through by Andy Waddingham to finish into the bottom corner and make it 3-0.
Then on 74 minutes when a cross field ball seemed to be going out of play Ryan Brackpool had other ideas, chased it down and then drove into the area before smashing the ball into the roof of the net.4-0. The home side’s heads were down now and Fender got in on the act when Taylor returned the compliment by putting him through to drive the ball inside the far post 5-0. With 3 minutes remaining Renato Carvalho ran at the Arundel defence before slipping the ball to Fender for another superb finish 6-0. As this was happening, news came through that Eastbourne had gone 3-2 up at Pagham and the host’s fate was sealed.
Heath however can look forward to another exciting year in the Premier division. Since Painter arrived, there has only been one season when the Bears have not set a new record for points and finishing position. This season’s target of top six and record points has been reached and next year’s target is clear, improve on this again.
Team: Thorp, Flack, Robinson(Watts), Peters, Brackpool, Carney, Waddingham (Moore), Blake (Carvalho), Fender, Taylor, Cousins. Unused Sub Doughty.