HEANOR Town’s title challenge has taken an unexpected twist with the Lions being handed a last gasp chance by replaying their league game at Hinckley FC tonight (Thursday, May 5).
Heanor had ended their season with a 7-0 win at St Andrews last Saturday, a game which took them back to the top of the table after which it looked unlikely they would be champions.
Gresley FC have two games left and if they win them both they will be crowned champions. However, and there is a sting in the tail, should they lose one of the games (away to Holbrook Sports and home to Gedling MW), and Borrowash Victoria win their game in hand, the title would still be in limbo.
Both Heanor and Borrowash appealed to the league over Hinckley FC playing players who were allegedly under suspension against them in their respective games. It is understood Hinckley have withdrawn their appeal with the Leicestershire FA over playing suspended players against Heanor and the league ordered the game to be replayed.
If both Heanor and Borrowash win their game, and as said Gresley lose to Gedling, Borrowash would gain only two points because they drew with Hinckley, but Heanor, who lost, would gain three and could still end up as league champions because they have a far superior goal difference.
Even if the league title was not at stake, joint manager Glenn Kirkwood said “We would still want to play the game again if possible because we would rather finish as runners-up than in fourth place.”
Whatever happens, it has been a magnificent season. One considers the question as to how a team can score 116 goals in 38 league games and not win the championship is unexplainable. In normal circumstances 84 points should have been enough to have seen the title come to Heanor.
Popular full back James Whitehead signalled his retirement from the game following the conclusion of the victory at St Andrews last Saturday and Heanor players formed a guard of honour for him to leave the field to deserved applause.
Skipper for the day, he rattled in the sixth goal from a free kick before stepping aside to let Jamie Gee-Pemberton take the 80th minute penalty which saw the Lions score seven against the Saints both home and away this season.
Whitehead is certainly going to be missed as a player next season. He has made the number two shirt his own and only gave it up on the odd occasion through injury. He also became known as the Lions penalty expert and scorer of the vital goal a time or two as well, particularly in the League Cup home game against Bardon Hill.
Heanor are not short of penalty takers, but classy players like Whitehead are a premium in any class of football.
The Heanor Town FC Presentation Evening has been re-arranged for Friday May 27 in the social club at the Town Ground when all the awards will be presented for the season. Everyone welcome.