Whilst it is still tight at the top and a long way to go yet, Heanor Town entered the New Year with clear light between them and the rest of the field.
Even allowing for games in hand there isn’t a team in the League which can catch the Lions now following the drawn game between Oadby Town and Barrow Town.
But counting chickens is not something which Heanor Town supporters are going to do. They well remember that this time last year they only had to win enough of their last seven games to be declared champions. The outcome was that they finished third! This year there are still 17 games to go.
What the Lions do have though is a squad which gels together well and the team spirit is excellent. True, everyone wants to play and not all can, but those who do not get into the team are pushing hard on the heels of those currently occupying the shirts, and that augers well for the remainder of the season.
Prime examples of this are Ryan Cancellara who lost his place for the Derbyshire Senior Cup tie at Chesterfield through unavailability and didn’t get back into the starting line-up until last Monday when he produced a match-winning performance.
Skipper Brett Peel lost his place at the heart of defence through an injury sustained at work, and though now fully fit only made the bench last Saturday.
Cancellara’s inclusion was due to Kieran Debrouwer’s suspension picked up whilst playing for another club. At the back though, Adam Kay’s performances in the last two games would have seen him distinctly unlucky to have lost his place to the fit-again skipper.
Many of the opposing sides are realising that they won’t beat Heanor by matching their attacking prowess so deep and massed defending appears to be the order of the day to make things difficult.
But fitness levels are high at the Town Ground and keeping going right to the end in paying dividends and the team are still averaging three goals a game.
The big difference is at the back where the Lions have conceded only two goals in their last five league games and thus they have become the first team in the East Midlands Counties League this season to record a goal difference of plus 50, which by any standards, is going to take some emulating.
Radford are the visitors to the Town Ground on Saturday (3pm) and the Lions will be looking to avenge their opening day defeat at Selhurst Street with a good performance. Along with Anstey Nomads, they are the only team to lower the Lions colours in a league game this season so far.
Meanwhile, the Reserves face two games next week. On Saturday they visit Clipstone Welfare Reserves (3pm) and next Wednesday take on South Normanton Athletic Reserves in a local derby at the Town Ground kick off 7.45pm.