Heanor Town got their FA Cup campaign off to a perfect start with a fine victory at Shepshed Dynamo on Saturday.
Goals from Nathan Benger, Stef Frost and Lee Stevenson gave them their first win of the season and they will now meet former East Midlands Counties League opponants Blaby & Whetstone Athletic in the next round on August 25.
There were a number of positional changes in the Lions line-up with skipper Brett Peel coming in for his first outing of the season at the expense of Josh Royce who dropped to the bench.
Whilst it was Heanor’s third game of the campaign it was Shepshed’s opener, and they might have taken a fifth minute lead when Keiron Davies got down the right but Simon Lillie saved.
The Lions were a goal up in nine minutes. A super move was completed when Frost turned and provided the perfect pass for Benger to slip the ball home from close range for his first goal of the season.
Peel and Benger then both missed good chances to make it two as the Lions dominated with some very attractive football.
Davies again shot wide in a rare Shepshed attack leading to Heanor doubling efforts and Benger rounding keeper Scott Low but shooting into the side netting.
Low produced a pulsating save from Frost’s piledriver in the 39th minute, before Leighton Simmonds tried a long range effort for Shepshed which flew a foot over the bar near the interval, but one wondered if Heanor would regret missing so many chances.
They needn’t have worried. The outstanding Ian Clarke put Gary Webster in with a peach of a pass. His first shot was turned against the bar by Low; his second smacked the bar again and Frost was finally on hand to turn the ball into the net for a second Heanor goal on 49 minutes.
Frost was unfortunate eight minutes later to see his header from Benger’s pass ruled out for offside, but Shepshed were being totally outplayed and had a real let-off nine minutes from the end when substitute Royce went clear and lobbed over the onrushing Low only to see the ball bounce a yard from the line and then over the bar.
Sub Jake Vernon put a Frost cross over from in front of goal before ending another superb Heanor move with a volley for the bottom corner which brought the save of the match from Low.
The score was hardly justice for rampant Heanor until Vernon’s left side run and perfect pass was thumped gleefully home byStevenson three minutes into stoppage time to give the result a fairer reflection.
Shepshed: Scott Low, Sean Byrne Chris White 45), Jaudach Taylor, Luke Manson (Alex Coultas 45), Lee Attenborough, Rob McCormack, Kieron Davies, Nick Pollard, Leighton Simmonds (Rob Mulonga 58), Kieron Bradshaw. Subs not used – Justin Jenkins, Alex Rowland.
Heanor: Simon Lillie, Ritchie Holmes, Daniel Fields, Ian Clarke, Brett Peel, Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster, Carl Slater (Lee Stevenson 86), Nathan Benger (Jake Vernon 85), Stef Frost, Graham Wells (Josh Royce 74).
Sub not used – Adam Nicholls.