Heanor’s title hopes are hit after a day to forget

East Midlands

Counties League

Thurnby Nirvana 3

Heanor Town 2

AN eventful afternoon for Heanor just got worse as it progressed and the Lions’ title chances took another dive as they left the points behind in Leicester.

Carl Slater was involved in a motor accident on his way to the game and didn’t make it so loan signing Lee Easom from Ollerton Town was thrust into the starting line-up.

Then a referee’s assistant didn’t appear and the match referee delayed the kick off 22 minutes until a replacement arrived.

And it didn’t get any better when the game did eventually start with Shaun Phillips appearing to down Easom’s leg for a clear penalty but Heanor’s appeals were waved aside by both referee and replacement assistant.

Twice the home side made good forays down the Heanor left, and when Dan Smith sent RYAN AMOO on his way again he beat three Heanor defenders in a great run and clipped the ball home just inside a post with a classy eleventh minute finish.

MATT MELBOURNE followed four minutes later when more sloppy and half hearted Heanor defending allowed him to run through and stroke home a second goal into the opposite corner.

Enter John Flinders, the home goalkeeper, when Heanor hit back. He saved superbly from Stef Frost on 26 minutes after Kieran Debrouwer had carved the opening.

He was beaten two minutes later though by Nathan Benger but the goal was harshly chalked off for offside.

It got worse. Heanor were awarded a mysterious penalty on 33 minutes for something which only the referee saw. Benger’s kick was low and hard just inside Flinders right hand post, but the goalkeeper got down splendidly for a big chap and saved superbly.

Benger had a header kicked off the line by Ryan Walker before skipper Brett Peel, returning to the side, failed to clear a right wing cross at the other end and Ryan Amoo shot wide from a chance he doesn’t often miss.

Heanor had 45 minutes to save their season and when Shaun Phillips flattened Gary Webster two minutes into the second half, NATHAN BENGER struck home the penalty despite Flinders once again getting a hand to the ball. This after even more protests from the home players who used everything they knew to delay the kick.

The referee moved across for a lengthy conversation with the home manager and dug out on 53 minutes, but it appeared token and one wondered if he had stopped his watch in view of the enormous amount of time wasting going on.

But Heanor’s cup of woe flowed over on 63 minutes when Mark Frost rolled a goal kick straight to the feet of BRETT MARVIN who lobbed the ball into an empty net.

Heanor had it all to do again and Stevenson’s volley was superbly saved at full stretch by the impressive Flinders, but in going forward Heanor left gaps at the back and it was a good job substitute Danny Claridge was on hand to clear Marvin’s shot off the line after Mark Frost, Peel and Degirolamo all chose the same time to have another blip.

After 67 minutes all hell let loose. Shaun Doyle’s dreadful studs up tackle on Nathan Benger put the Heanor striker out of the game, and probably one or two more as well.

The home bench pinched the ball, Lee Stevenson tried to retrieve it and both dug outs and most of the players became involved in a stupid brawl. Almost 12 minutes elapsed before the referee decided to send off Doyle, a decision which should have been immediate but which was probably only finally actioned after Thurnby tried to substitute him.

Before that Heanor’s unused substitute Graham Wells was red carded for throwing a punch and joint manager Craig Hopkins was ordered from the dugout. Thurnby’s Nigah Frank - who threw the first punch - was also booked.

Back to the game and KIERAN DEBROUWER took advantage of James Flinders’ one mistake of the game when he threw the ball out to him to lob Heanor closer to saving grace.

There was a lengthy period of stoppage time in which Danny Claridge lofted a good chance over the bar from Debrouwer’s cross, and substitute Adam Kay, pressed into service as an emergency centre forward, just couldn’t put the finishing touches to two more chances.

Match stats

Thurnby Nirvana: James Flinders, Dan Smith, Nigah Frank, Ryan Walker, Shaun Doyle, Shaun Phillips, Ash Day, Ryan Amoo, Brett Marvin (Mandeep Baines 67), Matt Melbourne (Luke Day 87), Alex Johnstone (Reece Morris 90+4). Substitutes not used: Fabian Smyles, Stacey Coore.

Heanor Town: Mark Frost, Jason Foster, Phil Austin, Lee Stevenson, Brett Peel, Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster, Kieran Debrouwer, Nathan Benger (Adam Kay 67), Lee Easom (Danny Claridge 63), Stef Frost. Substitutes not used – Graham Wells, Craig Hopkins, Matt Foster.

Referee: Shaun Willoughby (Coalville) Attendance: 37.

Star Lion: Nico Degirolamo

Yellow card: Shaun Doyle (59), Nigah Frank (67)

Red cards: Shaun Doyle (Thurnby), Graham Wells (Heanor) 67 minutes. Craig Hopkins (Heanor) sent from dug out.

Goals: Thurnby – Ryan Amoo (11), Matt Melbourne (15), Brett Marvin (63). Heanor – Nathan Benger (48 penalty), Kieran Debrouwer (85).

Next in action

Saturday, February 4 - East Midlands Counties League - Heanor Town v Blackwell MW, 3pm.

Central Midlands League Cup - Belper United Reserves v Heanor Town Reserves, 2pm.