Radcliffe Olympic 1
Heanor Town 2
KIERON Debrouwer’s deft header seven minutes from the end extended Heanor Town’s unbeaten league run to 14 games and brought them their first ever league win at Wharf Lane.
The Lions were at full strength and had new signing Josh Royce on the bench against his former colleagues.
Heanor made a brisk start and Lee Stevenson shot wide on six minutes, Nathan Benger headed inches wide from a corner two minutes later, and Lance Walker saved superbly when Benger broke through again inside the first ten minutes.
After this the Lions found the home side indeed spirited, although the dreadfully bumpy playing surface made Heanor’s passing game impossible to play.
Just as they did at Heanor, Radcliffe battled hard and didn’t look a basement side.
Indeed, they might have taken the lead in the eleventh minute when Ryan Smith got a foot to a hard low cross and his shot hit the top of the crossbar.
Smith was a lively attacker and his 18th minute header forced Mark Frost into a smart save.
Heanor’s most promising first half effort came on 26 minutes when Walker got everything behind a Ryan Cancellara shot on the run from the edge of the box. Moments later Phil Austin headed wide.
Liam Thompson was getting through some outstanding work and he showed a fine degree of skill on 34 minutes and was unlucky not to get on the end of a return pass which could well have brought the opening goal.
An Ashley Whitt corner was missed by Frost and the ball passed harmless across and unguarded goal before Thompson, five yards out, couldn’t control the ball and tapped it gratefully into Frost’s hands as Radcliffe ended the first half on top.
But they still had to rely on Walker to save them in the last first half attack of note when Cancellara rattled in a low shot which the goalkeeper saved at the foot of an upright.
Ben Elliott’s cross was headed wastefully wide from a most acceptable chance by Ryan Smith only two minutes into the second period.
The deadlock was broken on 50 minutes when Frost lifted a hugh clearance out of his hand at one end and NATHAN BENGER chased at the other to head into the net beyond the onrushing Walker.
Josh Royce came on for his Lions debut against his former colleagues on 58 minutes and this, and the goal, was expected to lift the game from its dreadfully poor quality much of which was caused by the pitch.
Unfortunately, that was not the case. Webster did put in one telling cross but Walker was equal to the occasion plucking the ball off the heads of three inrushing Heanor forwards.
Webster was inches wide with a 20-yard header and Peel got in a good header from Foster’s cross but it was too high.
The improvement to the Lions had come with moving Keiron Debrouwer from wide left to midfield, and Heanor began to win telling headers where they had previously been second best.
Radcliffe, always willing to compete with the best, still appeared more than capable of getting something out of the game. And they did with 12 minutes remaining.
The move followed a series of throw in’s on the right wh en substitute MICHAEL GARTLAN picked the ball up ran at three visiting defenders, got clear and slipped the ball under the diving Frost to restore parity.
That Heanor once again had to up their game was inevitable, but with their ability to keep running and more importantly keep running into space as the home side began to tire in certain areas, the pace of the game was again increased.
Radcliffe’s hopes of a precious point faded seven minutes from the end when KEIRON DEBROUWER scored with a delightful header from Jason Foster’s corner, and the game was won – a first ever league triumph for the Lions at Wharf Lane.
Radcliffe Olympic: Lance Walker, Ben Elliott, Adam Waddley (Michael Gartlan 64), Alex Bowles, Wes Spencer, Bob Burton, Nathan Hodges, Liam Thompson, Ben Middleton, Ryan Smith (Eddie West 62), Ashley Whitt. Substitute not used – Steve Morris.
Heanor Town: Mark Frost, Jason Foster, Phil Austin, Ryan Cancellara, Brett Peel, Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster, Lee Stevenson (Danny Claridge 59), Nathan Benger, Jake Vernon (Josh Royce 58), Keiron Debrouwer. Substitutes not used – Stef Frost, Adam Kay, Matt Foster.
Referee: James Shipley of Carlton, Nottingham
Goals: Radcliffe – Michael Gartlan 78: Heanor – Nathan Benger 50, Keiron Debrouwer 83.
Star Lion: Ryan Cancellara
Next in action
Saturday, November 26
East Midlands Counties League - HEANOR TOWN v Anstey Nomads, 3pm.
Central Midlands League
Dronfield Town Reserves v Heanor Town Reserves, 3pm.