East Midlands Counties
Heanor Town 0
BOTH teams received a standing ovation from a bumper crowd of 308 at the end of this top-of-the-table clash in the sun.
Gresley will perhaps have been the happier with their point but if Dave Moon had not squandered the chance of the match on 46 minutes, the visitors could well have been out of the title race.
Whilst Gresley were able to select from a full strength squad, Heanor had pre-match disappointment when both James Whitehead and Dan Williams failed fitness tests.
Gresley’s Danny Holmes received a third minute caution for a foul on Ash Grayson, and from the free kick Nathan Benger’s 25-yard half volley was collected under the bar by Gary Hateley.
Heanor forced two early corners, the second of which Benger headed wide, and as the Lions began to attack down the flanks and get round the back of the Gresley defence Askham had a fierce cross headed away before Benger could get to the ball.
The visitors, however, were dangerous on the break, if cautious, and Mickey Lyons tried an ambitious half volley from distance which Neil West watched safely over the bar.
Although neither defence could afford to make a mistake, they were both on top form both defences were on top
Both defences were on top and in superb form. Neither could afford to make a mistake. For Heanor Brett Peel and Lee Stevenson were well supported by Hodgman and Austin, and Cancellara was busy in the Lions midfield.
Heanor’s injuries woes got worse on 26 minutes when central defender Adam Kay limped off with an ankle injury, and seven minutes later leading scorer Nathan Benger suffered a groin strain and was replaced.
Gresley’s best efforts came in the 35th and 39th minutes in a good spell for them. First of all Holmes tired an ambitious 40-yard shot which clipped the top of the bar before going over. Then the same player drove a free kick inches over the angle of bar and post.
Ash Grayson burst through at the other end and flashed a half volley shot wide, but it had been a tight first half with few chances
Heanor opened the second half on the attack and in the first minute should have had the lead when Moon found himself clear eight yards out and with only goalkeeper Hateley to beat – but he got his angles wrong and lifted his shot ten yards wide!
Grayson’s header following a throw in was just too high in the 53rd minute, and at the other end West made a significant contribution to the game with a splendid save from Lyons on 58 minutes.
Gresley made a double 59th minute substitution in attack but the new strike partnership could make no impression on a resolute home defence.
Moon’s afternoon came to an end on 72 minutes when the introduction of Graham Wells fired some hostility into the home attack, but the Moatmen’s defence was as resolute as that of the Lions.
Stoppage time brought two chances for Heanor. Webster lifted a free kick from the edge of the penalty area a yard (or two) over the bar as the injured Benger rued from the dugout what might have been given the opportunity.
Then Lee Askham put Graham Wells through to the left of goal but with only Hateley to beat he rushed his shot wide with what was the last kick of the game.
Heanor Town: Neil West, Lee Stevenson, Phil Austin, Ryan Cancellara, Brett Peel, Adam Kay (Richard Hodgman 28), Gary Webster, Ash Grayson, Nathan Benger (Lee Naughton 33), Dave Moon (Graham Wells 72), Lee Askham.
Substitutes not used: Danny Cox, Jamie Gee-Pemberton.
B: Gary Hateley, Matt Hill, Jordi Gough, Lee Barrow, James Barrett, Carl Slater, Mickey Lyons (Dave Blenkinsopp 59), Danny Holmes (Gareth Langford 84), Rob Spencer (Royce Turville 59), Brian Woodall, Tom Betteridge.
Substitutes not used :Adam Betteridge, Darren Keeling.
Referee: Nick Hopton (Derby)
Yellow cards: Danny Holmes (Gresley) foul on Ash Grayson 8 minutes; Brett Peel (Heanor) foul on Brian Woodall 38 minutes. Star Lion: Lee Stevenson
Next in action
Saturday April 9 - East Midlands Counties League - Hinckley v Heanor Town (3pm).
Wednesday, April 13 - East Midlands Counties League - Bardon Hill v Heanor Town (7.45pm).
Central Midlands League - Heanor Town Reserves v Staveley MW Reserves.