Heanor held in a goalless thriller

East Midland

Counties League

Heanor Town 0

St Andrews 0

BOTH teams received a standing ovation from the spectators at the end of this exciting top-of-the-table clash at the Town Ground which had everything but goals.

With Keiran Debrouwer unavailable and Nathan Benger suspended Heanor brought in Ricky Gardner, on loan from Carlton Town, and new signing Stef Frost.

Lee Stevenson received a presentation from Carol Turner for his 150th appearance for the club and then the Armistice Respect was observed.

From the moment Ricky Garner sent Jake Vernon through only to be thwarted by Warren Butlin in the visitors goal on seven minutes, this game looked destined to end goal-less.

In a bid to gain early success Heanor’s forward passes were largely overhit. It was a case of the right idea but the wrong pace.

Gary Webster made a great run forward but got under his shot and the ball sailed over the bar on 24 minutes before the visitors had a good patch which ended with Ross Trevor’s header forcing Mark Frost into a diving save.

In a scramble in front of goal the ball fell to Vernon on 43 minutes but his shot was blocked by Butlin’s legs, and then when new boy Stef Frost threatened Butlin ensured the first half would end all square with a smart save off the striker’s toes.

Gardner gave way to Graham Wells on 52 minutes as Heanor realised something new was needed, but it led to an action packed second period with plenty of goalmouth action, some good goalkeeping and some fortunate defending.

Keiron Linnet burst through on 56 minutes but tagged by Nico Degirolamo he rather hastily lifted his shot over the bar.

Heanor retaliated with a long range shot from Webster which flashed wide, and then, on 61 minutes, Webster hit a fierce shot which Butlin could only parry and Stef Frost flicked the ball against an upright.

Mark Frost saved from Elliot Wright at the other end and then Heanor had a 69th minute let off when Trevor’s header hit the underside of the bar before being cleared as the game became fast, exciting and end-to-end.

The Saints defence looked compact and their attack seemed also to carry more venom than Heanor’s, and Linnet might well have wrapped up the points having been sent clear with 15 minutes left only for Mark Frost to block with his legs.

Vernon was sadly missing his strike partner but he unleashed a cracking 79th minute volley from which Butlin made the save of the game, tipping the ball onto the bar and over for a fruitless corner.

The crowd were ready to hail a goal minutes later when Nico Degiroamo was unmarked at the back post at a corner but his header was blocked off the line, and with the ball bouncing everywhere it was Sam Surridge who got the best touch to hammer it away to safety.

Heanor threw caution to the winds with nine minutes left by pushing Degirolamo up front to partner Vernon, but it was Jim Mee who went closest, holding off a challenge from substitute Danny Claridge to shoot narrowly wide.

Skipper Brett Peel shot over the bar from in front of goal; Ryan Cancellara volleyed wide, and there were two almighty scrambles in front of the Saints goal before the end. And in a game in which the football from both sides was warmly and heartily applauded by Heanor’s biggest home league gate of the season, the Lions couldn’t force the winner.

The standing ovation at the end of the game was as much for the visitors as it was for Heanor which summed up a game in which the final scoreline did not match the standard of football or the excitement.

You would have to go a long way to see a better nil-nil draw than this.

Match stats

Heanor Town: Mark Frost, Jason Foster, Phil Austin (Danny Claridge 81), Ryan Cancellara, Brett Peel, Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster, Ricky Gardner (Graham Wells 52), Stef Frost (Julian Capuano 81), Jake Vernon, Lee Stevenson. Substitutes not used – Adam Kay, Matt Foster.

St Andrews: Warren Butlin, Danny Hodgkinson, Ryan Hawker, Nick Brett, Sam Surridge, Jim Mee, Will Robinson, Marc Connelly (Kris Stevenson 63), Keiron Linnet, Elliot Wright, Ross Trevor. Substitutes not used – Danny Henfrey, Tom Williams, Roy Ryan.

Referee: James Hall of Wingerworth

Caution: Marc Connelly (St Andrews) 63 minutes

Attendance: 125

Star Lion: Nico Degirolamo

Next in action

Saturday November 19

East Midland Counties League

Radcliffe Olympic v Heanor Town (3pm).

Derbyshire FA Divisional Cup (South) Second Round

Heanor Town Reserves v Mickleover Sports Reserves (3pm).