St Andrews 0
Heanor Town 7
THE fine form of St Andrews of late was put to the sword as Heanor rattled in 26 goals against them in two seasons and ended the campaign with a devastating spell of form.
Oh if things might have been different at the top of the table.
But the game ended in some sadness as defender James Whitehead, skipper for the day, announced his retirement from the game. There is no doubt though that he did it in style.
Jay Lee Hodgson declared his recovery from injury earlier than expected and Heanor were soon testing the home defence on a bone hard pitch with a strong cross field wind.
Brett Peel headed a first minute corner over the bar; Dan Williams shot a whisker over the top after eight.
The Saints lost Will Robinson injured but it was ASH GRAYSON who converted Heanor pressure, lobbing Warren Butlin after ten minutes and the party had begun.
Substitute Rob Atkins tested Mark Frost at one end and Nathan Benger rammed a shot just over the top following a corner at the other.
An awkward bouncing ball was missed by Tom Williams on 16 minutes and JAY LEE HODGSON put Heanor further ahead with a classy finish from 20 yards.
But Tom Williams came to his side’s rescue six minutes later when he was on hand to block a shot from namesake Dan Williams off the line with Butlin well beaten.
Danny Hodgkinson placed a shot for the top corner when St Andrews hit back but Mark Frost was in unbeatable form.
He was, however, fortunate on 33 minutes when Chris Gerrison caught Grayson in possession and fired past Frost only to see his shot hit the inside of the foot of an upright, roll across goal, and away to safety behind the Heanor custodian.
Sweetness personified saw Benger put GARY WEBSTER clear to score with a precision touch beyond the onrushing Butlin on 37 minutes and the Lions were on their way back to the top of the table.
There were only 57 seconds on the clock when JAY LEE HODGSON took advantage of another defensive Saints mix up to put further daylight between the contestants.
Lee McLeod swept another Hodgson shot off the line on 57 minutes, and if the first half had been competitive, the second was one-way traffic.
Heanor had introduced all their substitutes by the hour with Gary Webster moving back into defence and skipper for the day James Whitehead switching into attack.
And it worked on 68 minutes. Hodgson was brought down on the edge of the area and WHITEHEAD obliged with a superb free kick into the bottom corner to mark his final appearance with a goal – his ninth of the campaign from full back.
Benger thought his hard work had been rewarded when he ran in a goal after a Webster run and shot had been turned off the line, but where the Assistant got an off-side from only he will ever know.
But NATHAN BENGER got the goal he deserved on 75 minutes, taking a crossfield pass from Whitehead, racing past a static defender like the wind and scoring with a glorious chip over Butlin into the top corner.
Another Heanor goal was disallowed for a dubious off-side and then four Heanor players missed a corner as it passed harmlessly across the face of goal.
Having hit six goals home and away past St Andrews last season, and seven at home this season, another would make the sequence if nothing but uncanny, and it duly arrived ten minutes from the end from the most unlikely source.
Whitehead’s shot hit a hand on the goal-line and a penalty was awarded. The Heanor skipper for the day would go out with the Lions last goal of the season. But no! Up stepped JAMIE GEE-PEMBERTON to send Butlin the wrong way for his first goal in club colours.
Another fantastic Heanor following gave the players a standing ovation off the field at the end of the game for their splendid entertainment this season, with a guard of honour being provided for the popular James Whitehead.
St Andrews: Warren Butlin, Matt Banton, Lee McLeod, Nick Brett, Tom Williams, Daryl Matts, Will Robinson (Rob Atkins 8), Danny Henfrey, Tom Wood (Greg Preston 80), Chris Gerrison, Danny Hodgkinson. Substitute not used – Andy Beresford.
Heanor Town: Mark Frost, James Whitehead, Phil Austin, Jamie Gee-Pemberton, Brett Peel, Lee Stevenson (Danny Cox 51), Gary Webster, Ash Grayson (Ryan Cancellara 55), Nathan Benger, Jay Lee Hodgson, Dan Williams (Richard Hodgman 55).
Substitutes not used: Graham Wells, George Walker.
Referee: Akil Howson (Leicester). Attendance: 46
Star Lion: James Whitehead
Goals: Heanor - Ash Grayson (10), Jay Lee Hodgson (16, 46), Gary Webster (37), James Whitehead (68), Nathan Benger (75), Jamie Gee-Pemberton (80 penalty).