Northern Counties East League Premier Division
Heanor Town 1, Winterton Rangers 2
For the best part of half-an-hour there was only one team in this game on Tuesday night. Then a bizarre own goal evened up the scores from which the visitors took strength and ended up deserving their win.
Jason Foster (injured), Phil Austin, Stef Frost and Danny Fields were all unavailable so Lee Stevenson made his first start of the season and Josh Royce returned to the starting line-up.
Winterton’s young team were under the cosh from the start and Nathan Benger’s second minute header appeared to be rather harshly ruled out for offside when he wasn’t the player in an offside position.
Moments later though NICO DEGIROLAMO toe-poked home to finish another excellent Heanor move to celebrate his 50th appearance for the club.
And for much of the first half-hour Heanor did everything but increase their lead, including hitting the woodwork on four occasions through Benger, twice, Carl Slater and Graham Wells.
Indeed, the last of these, in the 24th minute from Nathan Benger, thudded into the inside of an upright and surprising the ball stayed out.
Winterton had not been in the game, but they were gifted a bizarre 27th minute equaliser when skipper BRETT PEEL, out on his own and with all the time in the world, made a hash of a straight forward header which he need not have touched at all, and the ball sailed beyond Simon Lilley into the net.
Three minutes later Benger thrashed another shot against the post, but the goal gave Winterton strength and they began to come much more into the game.
Heanor’s second half performance can only be described as poor. Their passing game disappeared and they started to play the long ball which the visitors defence dealt with competently.
For long periods of the second half Winterton coped admirably as Heanor threw on Adam Nicholls and later Neil West up front. But in attack the visitors had little to offer until a low snap shot from Tom Flanigan on the hour was pushed out at full stretch by Simon Lillie and what his fellow defenders tried to do is anyone’s guess but JOSH BATTY gratefully accepted the opportunity to slip the ball into an empty net from two yards.
In truth it had been coming, and not for the first time this season Heanor panicked and their normal game went out of the window as they pushed everything forward to get back on terms.
There were a succession of half chances, but in reality none looked like being turned into a goal.
Steve Willerby turned a Gary Webster shot for one of many fruitless corners; Grayson headed wide when seemingly well placed; Carl Slater headed over another Webster cross, and Winterton adopted a what we have we hold tactic.
Benger headed narrowly over the bar as stoppage time approached before Wibberly produced the save of the night from Neil Grayson’s screaming shot for the top corner, pushing the ball over the bar at full stretch with the home supporters hailing the equaliser.
HEANOR TOWN: Simon Lillie, Richie Holmes, Lee Stevenson Neil Grayson 73), Ian Clarke, Brett Peel, Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster, Carl Slater, Nathan Benger, Josh Royce, Graham Wells (Adam Nicholls 58). Substitute not used – Craig Hopkins.
WINTERTON RANGERS: Steve Wibberley, James Coulbeck, Josh Turgoose, Glenn Rafferty, Robbie Spence, Simon Ward, Robbie Shaft, Louis Reed, Tom Flanigan, Josh Batty (Aaron Draper 79), Jordan Pickering (Mark Pearson 71). Substitutes not used – Tom Corcoran, Luke Edwards, Luke Anderson.
REFEREE: Akil Howson (Leicestershire)
CAUTION: James Coulbeck (Winterton) 84 minutes
STAR LION; Gary Webster
GOALS: Heanor – Nico Degirolamo (3 minutes). Winterton – Brett Peel (own goal 27 minutes), Josh Batty (60 minutes).
This Saturday, Heanor Town are away at Blaby & Whetstone Athletic to contest an FA Cup Preliminary Round clash. Kick-off is 3pm.