FA Cup Preliminary Round
Blaby & Whetstone Athletic 2
Heanor Town 1
Heanor Town surrended an interval lead, £1,750 prize money, and a money-spinning tie away to neighbours Eastwood Town in the next round with their worst display for a long time.
Both sides announced a full strength line-up for a game which was delayed for seven minutes due to a terrific thunderstorm and cloudburst. The pitch, though played beautifully, which was more than could be said for Heanor.
Blaby’s officials were still mopping up when NICO DEGIROLAMO’s back post header from a left wing corner somehow crept through a crowded goalmouth and into the far corner to give the Lions a perfect start.
Three minutes later Richie Holmes free kick clear the bar by a fraction, and then a sparkling run by Graham Wells saw his shot hoofed off the line by Luke Coxson with Heanor’s big following ready to hail a goal.
That though, was as good as it got for the Lions.
Blaby began to believe in themselves and Daniel Gallagher headed narrowly wide from a free kick.
Nathan Benger almost got through at the other end but Heanor were fortunate five minutes before the break when Leon Doughty’s lob, having been sent clear, beat Simon Lillie but bounced a yard from the line and over the bar.
And with Heanor’s defence all at see with short passes which were not finding their mark, the Lions were glad to hear the half time whistle.
Contrast the first half, the second was played in strong hot sunshine and it seemed to suit Blaby.
There wasn’t much patters to the game from either side and Heanor gave the impression that they were holding on to what they had. That is until the 58th minute when DANNY GALLAGHER’s low 20-yard shot squirmed and coaxed its way through a sea of legs and into the far corner for the leveller.
Briefly, Heanor hit back. They began to play some of their nice touch football and there were some moans and groans when Graham Wells 66th minute header found the net only for Stef Frost to be adjudged off-side.
Blaby took the incentive from this and Holmes was happy to kick a Tom Hodson header off the line.
At the other end Luke Hall produced a good save from substitute Neil Grayson but it was Jermaine Gordon’s third FA Cup goal of the season on 74 minutes when he bundled the ball home after sloppy defending again, which set up a shock win for the East Midlands Counties League side.
And there was only one word to describe Heanor’s performance – disaster.
BLABY & WHETSTONE ATHLETIC: Luke Hall, Tom Orton, Ryan Hawker, Matthew Howarth, Luke Coxson, Daniel Gallagher, Lee Barratt, Tom Hodson, Liam Read (Chris Amatari 88), Jermaine Gordon (Eliot Dalton 85). Substitutes not used – Darren, Wheeler, Andrew Morris, Craig Jacobs, Adam Blanchard, Jamie Marsh.
HEANOR TOWN: Simon Lillie, Richie Holmes, Daniel Fields, Ian Clarke, Brett Peel, Nico Degriolamo, Gary Webster (Josh Royce 71), Carl Slater, Nathan Benger (Neil Grayson 61), Stef Frost, Graham Wells. Substitutes not used – Lee Stevenson, Phil Austin, Jamie Spiers.
REFEREE: Andrew Park (Lincoln)
YELLOW CARDS: None
GOALS: Blaby – Danny Gallagher 58, Jermaine Gordon 74. Heanor – Nico Degirolamo (10).