Competition: NCEL Cup Semi-final
Town - Wayne Cooke (23), Nathan Benger (42), Luke Crosby (89)
United - Marcus Edwards (31, 65, 83, 87)
On paper this game looked likely to be a close fought encounter, Premier Division Heanor facing up to in form Division 1 Eccleshill, and so it turned out!
The teams were evenly matched as the first period wore on, then Heanor were gifted the opener on 24. Eccleshill keeper Brendan Rolsund slipped after the ball bounced over him, allowing WAYNE COOKE a simple finish into an empty net.
Three minutes later the visitors were awarded a penalty after a Heanor player prevented the ball entering the goal by use of a hand. We saw clearly from behind the goal that Josh Raven was the guilty party, but Referee Alix Pashley proceeded to send off Lee Stevenson! A decision that had even mild mannered me hurling abuse at the official.
The ref had missed the handball anyway, but his assistant hadn't. Unfortunately the assistant couldn't help Mr Pashley identify the guilty party, and it looked as though "Stevo" would have to walk. I can only assume that Raven admitted the offence as eventually he was the player that left the field.
MARCUS EDWARDS stepped up and fired the ball low to James Baker's left, and despite the keeper getting a firm hand to the shot, the ball ended up in the back of the net.
Heanor re-took the lead on 42, a defensive mix-up saw the ball fly into the air and NATHAN BENGER was on the spot to nod home from close range. H-T 2-1
The game should have been over on 51, when Roslund was guilty of a nasty challenge on Cooke. The keeper went to catch the ball, and collected it well, but slammed his knee straight into Cooke, leaving the winger in a heap on the deck.
Straight red, deservedly, and a penalty. Jared Holmes stepped up to take the kick but his rather timid effort was parried into the air by the substitute keeper. Benger got to the loose ball first and headed at goal, only for him to see the sub keeper block that effort as well.
So, should have been 3-1 with both teams down to 10 men, but then the division one outfit gradually took control of the game, and it was no surprise when they drew level five minutes later through that man EDWARDS. Poor defending allowed the ball to reach the striker and he fired it across Baker into the far corner.
EDWARDS completed his hat-trick in the 83rd minute, nodding home from close range after the home defence failed to clear.
The striker bagged his 4th of the game, and his 44th of the season after he raced into an area devoid of defenders and fired low and hard past the helpless Baker.
LUKE CROSBY did pull one back for Heanor on 89, making his way in the six-yard area and firing under the keeper at the near post, but it was too little, too late for the Lions. F-T 3-4
Admission: We sponsored the game
Programme: Excellent publication
Referee Mr Pashley would probably be the first to admit he had a poor game. I try not to criticise match officials, but this was not Mr Pashley's finest hour.