Degirolamo nicks a late winner for Lions

East Midland

Counties League

Heanor Town 4

Oadby Town 3

AFTER recovering from a two goal deficit Heanor Town needed another stoppage time winner to keep in the title race and claim the first double of the season over visiting Oadby.

With Graham Wells suspended, Neil Grayson continued his partnership with Nathan Benger up front.

Oadby made a strong start and Jake Duffy almost slid in Matt Piper’s cross at the far post in the fifth minute.

Both sides looked for an early goal and Stef Frost headed straight at Elliott Shilliam when Heanor hit back before Nathan Benger headed wide an inviting cross.

After Heanor had given away a needless 11th minute corner Piper’s shot struck the far upright, and five minutes later Jon Stevenson’s thunderous shot from 22 yards beat Dunn and the ball came back into play off the other upright.

Benger’s persistence got the ball to Webster at the other end but he skied the chance before Oadby took the lead on 31 minutes. Matt Piper won a race inside from Foster but Dunn appeared to have the shot covered until the ball touched Foster’s boot and deflected into the bottom corner.

Carl Slater cracked a great shot just over at the other end but Heanor suffered another blow on 36 minutes when Dunn’s hasty clearance fell invitingly for Matt Moore to lob the ball into an empty goal and double the Poachers’ lead.

Heanor withdrew Kieran Debrouwer in favour of Lee Stevenson to add more bite to midfield five minutes before the break and were rewarded in the 44th minute when Peel, Grayson and finally Nico Degirolamo got their headers into the back of the net.

Heanor went for it at the start of the second half. Neil Grayson had a shot scrambled off the line; Foster put a free kick over the top; but finally Grayson got his head onto Stef Frost’s cross to restore parity on 56 minutes.

The come back was complete on the hour when under pressure Joe Latham’s back pass eluded the onrushing Shilliam and Gary Webster ran on to gleefully slip the ball into the empty net.

Declan Towers and Carl Slater were both injured going for a ball which an inch or two either way might have increased the Lions advantage. Slater was able to continue but for the Oadby man it meant the end of the game.

Webster hit a first time shot just wide and moments later Slater was a touch away from a fourth Heanor goal.

Oadby were not finished and Dunn marked his debut with a tremendous flying save from Jake Duffy’s free kick. Five minutes later Dunn again distinguished himself with another smart save from substitute Jermain Gordon’s shot.

It did, though, give the appearance that Heanor, now having used up all their substitutes, were looking good value for retaining their lead to the end. That is until the Lions defence generously gave JERMAINE GORDON time to control the ball, turn swiftly for a giant of a striker, and hit the equaliser with a low shot across goal into the bottom corner with four minutes of the 90 left on the clock.

The goal gave Oadby renewed impetus and Dunn saved splendidly from the impressive Piper who got through again moments later and flashed a low shot into the side netting.

Heanor hit back in stoppage time. Vernon rattled a shot wide before the Lions won three corners. From the last of these Nico Degirolamo got his body to the ball in front of goal and knocked it into the net to keep the Lions’ title hopes alive with four of the six stoppage time minutes already elapsed.

Match stats

Heanor Town: Hadlee Dunn, Jason Foster, Phil Austin, Carl Slater, Brett Peel, Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster, Kieran Debrouwer (Lee Stevenson 40), Nathan Benger (Josh Royce 81), Neil Grayson (Jake Vernon 77), Stef Frost. Substitutes not used: Adam Campbell, Mark Frost.

Oadby Town: Elliott Shilliam, Joe Clayton, James Dodd, Declan Towers (Jermaine Gordon 71), Joe Latham, Jake Duffy, Jack Lane, Jon Stevenson, Matt Moore, Michael Reeve, Matt Piper. Substitutes not used – Ash Palfreyman, James Miller, Rob Stockley, Paul Appleton.

Referee: Harry Hawkins of Sutton-in-Ashfield.

Attendance: 129.

Yellow card: Joe Latham (Oadby) 86 minutes.

Red card: Lee Harriman (Oadby Town manager) 60 minutes.

Star Lion: Nico Degirolamo.

Next in action

Saturday, February 25 - East Midlands Counties League - Bardon Hill v Heanor Town, 3pm.

Central Midlands League - Reserve Supreme Division - Heanor Town Reserves v Mickleover Sports Reserves.