Heanor Town’s game at St Andrews last Saturday was always going to be a tough one to win.
They are a big physical side who can play football and wear down opponents, but that wasn’t the case this time.
Credit to the Lions, they had much the better of the second half having gone in at the break very much second fiddle. But, as at Heanor, the Saints defended well and must feel pleased having denied the Lions four points this season.
More worrying for the Lions is Jake Vernon’s injury. His pace was just starting to worry the Saints defence when his injury happened 12 minutes into the encounter and as has sometimes been the case in the past, ankle injuries can sometimes take a few weeks to clear up.
Fortunately there are options, but in recent games Heanor haven’t looked quite so lethal in front of goal as they did earlier in the season and one wonders if part of this might be due to the captaincy being put on Nathan Benger’s shoulders following Brett Peel’s failure to get back into the team due to Adam Kay’s splendid performances.
Benger, like Peel, is the type of player who would carry the Lions team captaincy with style and merit, but sometimes being put into such a position can be a burden and the player’s ability to score goals is something which the team very much relies on.
Perhaps not so much appreciated is the fact that Nathan is involved in most Heanor goals. If not scoring them, in the setting up of them for others.
Barrow Town, who visit the Town Ground on Saturday (3pm), are another team who will make life tough for the league leaders. They were the only team to do an East Midlands Counties League double over the Lions last season and they will visit Heanor with revenge in mind for a 3-1 defeat suffered at the Riverside back in August.
They have some talented players in their line-up and are a free scoring team. A defeat close on the hands of dropping two points at St Andrews would really put the Heanor title chase off course.
One thing which St Andrews will be particularly pleased about last week was the size of the crowd. The official attendance of 80 was almost twice their previous biggest gate this season and at least half of the crowd were made up of travelling supporters cheering on the Lions. Little wonder then that the rest of the league would like to see Heanor drop out of the title race.
It’s a pay day for most clubs when the Lions are the visitors.