Venue: Eagle Valley, Arnold. Kick off 7:55pm
Bilborough scorers: Huckerby 24, Nhdiza 35, 75, Wright 59
Heanor scorers: Ward 10, Barber 27, 44, 83 (pens), Hood 40,80
Invited by Bilborough Town U19 secretary Jev Swinscoe to this game - the 0-0 he predicted was a bit far off the mark!
Both teams have struggled to come to terms with playing regular league games, Bilborough had lost all three of their games so far, whilst Heanor had lost the four they have played.
Only a dozen or so were present for this bottom of the league encounter, but although the game was a little short on quality, it wasn't short of goals!
The first came from Heanor's JACOB WARD on 10, a neat volley from 15 yards that was past Bilborough keeper Jack Nicholson before he could react.
JACK HUCKERBY brought the home team level with 24 minutes of the first half played, firing across the Heanor goal from 20+ yards, a shot that Lions' keeper John Foster maybe should have saved.
Then came the first of the games penalties. This wasn't given by Referee Sam Kane - it was his assistant on the far side who put his flag across his chest for some reason or another. All I saw was a Bilborough player lunge at the player on the ball,and miss both! LIAM BARBER stepped up and fired the ball home from the spot to restore the Lions' lead with 27 played.
The lead lasted only 8 minutes, SHAYNE NHDIZA picking his spot from 12 yards after Heanor had made a mess of clearing a corner.
Heanor took the lead again on 40 - a shot from distance crashed off the Bilborough crossbar and the loose ball fell kindly to CALLUM HOOD who composed himself in front of goal before placing the ball past Nicholson.
The visitors went further ahead on 44, another penalty from LIAM BARBER. This spot kick was awarded after home defender Nathan Fogo had tripped a Heanor player as he broke free, and looked likely to score. Denying an obvious goal scoring attempt is a sending off offence and Mr. Kane had no option other than to dismiss Fogo. H-T 2-4
The 10 men showed a lot of fighting spirit as the second half began, and on 52 Huckerby had a 25 yarder well saved by Foster.
More poor defending from the travellers gave ANGUS WRIGHT a free shot at goal in the 59th minute, and the no. 11 took full advantage drilling the ball home from close range.
As unlikely as it sounds, the 10 men were level on 75, NHDIZA in the right place after Foster failed to hold onto a tame shot.
Heanor re-took the lead with 10 minutes to go, CALLUM HOOD firing home from close range after the home defence failed to deal with a corner.
This time there was to be no fightback, and the Lions made sure of the points thanks to another LIAM BARBER penalty. This time it was keeper Nicholson at fault, bringing down the Heanor no. 14 some 15 yards from goal. I've been watching football for more years than I care to remember, but I've never previously seen a hat-trick of penalties....F-T 4-6
With a 4-6 scoreline, it may be time for a bit of defensive coaching for both teams, even if it's just "if in doubt, boot it out!"
The game was entertaining enough, but would have been more so if Referee Sam Kane had allowed a little more player to player contact. Even the slightest of touches drew a whistle and as a young Referee still learning the game, Sam needs to realise that football IS a contact sport and let the players get on with it. Players, management and supporters get so frustrated with constant interruptions in play - and an anonymous Referee is by far the best Referee.