East Midlands Counties
Heanor Town 2
Thurnby Nirvana 0
NATHAN Benger’s 22nd goal in 20 appearances paved the way for Heanor Town to return to the top of the table in front of a healthy and enthusiastic crowd who gave the players a standing ovation at the end.
Heanor were back to full strength for the first ever visit of Thurnby Nirvana to the Town Ground. There was a pre-match tribute to Kev Ward, a player who made over 300 appearances for the club back in their Midland League days of the 1960s, who sadly died recently.
Thurnby included league leading goalscoers Jordan Smith and the dynamic Matt Melbourne in their starting line up, but the combined efforts of Brett Peel and Adam Kay saw them hardly get a look in on goal in the entire 90 minutes.
Much of the first half was end to end trading but chances were hard to come by.
Jimmy Gee-Pemberton headed Lee Stevenson’s 12th minute cross wide, and within moments Mark Frost had blocked a goalbound shot from William Gongo round the post at the other end.
Nathan Benger, who led the line superbly, saw his header from a corner cleared off the line with Arun Harris beaten, and within seconds Matt Melbourne had let fly at the Wilmot Street goal from around 20 yards with a stinging shot which Frost watched wide without being able to do much about.
Lee Askham had a 29th minute shot in a terrific goalmouth scramble in which both Dan Williams and Nathan Benger went close. Then Willliams was sent clear by Benger’s delightful pass but he shot straight at Harris.
Adam Kay thought he had broken the deadlock with a header from a 36th minute corner but was penalised for a spot of pushing.
Jordan Smith was booked for a nasty foul on Frost as the Heanor custodian raced to the ball first, and Heanor returned upfield to take the lead two minutes before the break when Askham’s splendid cross was converted by Nathan Benger’s precise header.
And before the interval Benger was a toe nail away from converting a great Dan Williams cross which might have made the second half less feisty.
Frost made a splendid save from skipper Wesley Gibson’s 54th minute free kick before first Ash Grayson, and then Graham Wells, were introduced into the game either side of the hour mark.
Benger’s 63rd minute shot looked to have secured victory but somehow Harris got a finger tip to the ball to turn it round the post and the players and crowd were somewhat miffed when a goal kick resulted.
Heanor’s 64th minute winner was thoughtful and determined. Williams lost possession on a right sided run to goal, then intercepted Taylor’s attempted clearance to set up Benger for a wicked cross touched home by substitute Graham Wells celebrating his 104th appearance for the club.
Williams then just failed to get onto a Benger headed pass which would no doubt have taken the tension out of the last few minutes.
There was a 73rd minute enforced interval after Joel Potter’s tackle left Benger on the deck and the officials were unable to decide who committed the tackle. Nijah Frank was finally booked for it whilst Potter had a smile at his luck from safe distance.
Benger saw his header from a corner come back off the bar and Gary Webster was so unlucky when his swerving, curling cross beat Harris all ends up and cannoned to safety off the angle of bar and post.
Heanor Town: Frost, Stevenson, Austin, Cancellara, Peel, Kay, Webster, Gee-Pemberton (Grayson 58), Benger, Williams (Naughton 87), Askham (Wells 62). Substitutes not used – Hodgeman, Bowler.
Leicester Nirvana: Harris, Frank, Taylor (Clayton 76), Walker, Gibson, Phillips, Smith, Jarvis, Gonga, Melbourne (Potter 61), Smith (Quailey 87). Substitute not used – Dassu.
Referee: Robert Rees of Chesterfield. Attendance: 94
Yellow cards: Thurnby: Jordan Smith (39), Nijah Frank (73).
Star Lion: Adam Kay
Next in action
Saturday February 19 - East Midlands Counties League - Ellistown v Heanor Town (3pm).
Central Midlands League - Heanor Town Reserves v Staveley MW Reserves.
Wednesday February 23 - East Midlands Counties League - Heanor Town v Barrow Town (7.45pm).