St Andrews 2
Heanor Town 2
HEANOR Town had to come back from behind twice to rescue a point from third placed St Andrews, but the home side had to withstand a terrific bombardment in the last fifteen minutes to hold on to their share of the spoils.
Carl Slater made his first start for the club with Josh Royce dropping down to the bench.
Ross Trevor sliced an intended first minute cross towards goal and Mark Frost had to tip over before Heanor hit back with Jason Foster’s corner causing havoc in the home goalmouth and Nathan Benger shooting across goal with Warren Butlin beaten.
Jake Vernon appeared to be manhandled by Nick Brett as he went for the ball in the 12th minute and after lengthy treatment had to be replaced by Josh Royce due to a pulled hamstring. Surprisingly no foul was awarded.
Royce had an early opportunity to open the scoring within four minutes of coming on but Butlin saved with his legs, whilst at the other end a long range shot from Dan Hodgkinson sailed over the bar.
Heanor had a 25th minute let off when Foster’s poor clearance gave Keiran Linnett a shooting chance from 18 yards and the ball came back off the face of an upright.
Sam Surridge lobbed over the bar and Trevor shot across the face of the goal as St Andrews dominated for a spell. But there looked no danger when Adam Kay failed to clear on 33 minutes as other visiting defenders had opportunities to do so, but after a scramble the ball fell kindly for Keiran Linnett to poke into an empty net from three yards to score the first goal between the teams this season.
For a while every ball seemed to fall in St Andrews favour and Heanor had to dig out any lengthy possession. Foster wasted a free kick opportunity to get back into the game and Benger’s glancing header passed inches wide of the far post.
The Saints had proved to be the strong team in the first half but within 25 seconds of the restart Josh Royce had restored parity with a chip over Butlin.
Heanor began to show strength of their own and Lee Stevenson shot over and Benger’s overhead kick from Gary Webster’s cross landed safely in Butlin’s arms.
Royce missed a chance from Benger’s headed cross and Webster shot inches wide from distance as Heanor began to get well on top.
St Andrews were very dangerous on the break and the Lions had another let off in the 58th minute when Elliot Wright’s shot came back off the foot of an upright.
At the other end Royce and Benger combined to give Stevenson a shot at goal but the ball wouldn’t sit nicely for the midfielder to shoot.
The Saints broke again and Trevor shot wide and the home side regained the lead totally against the run of play on 72 minutes. Wright burst through and was fouled by Mark Frost. The assistant referee, who had missed three blatant off-side’s, was adamant that it was penalty whilst Heanor argued unsuccessfully that the foul was outside the area.
Aggrieved, Heanor had to settle for a booking for Frost and Linnett restoring home advantage from the penalty spot.
The lead was short-lived however, for three minutes later Josh Royce somehow managed to squeeze the ball across goal in a crowded penalty area and Nathan Benger gleefully levelled up the scores again.
Heanor simply dominated the last quarter hour but they couldn’t find a way through a home defence which was now grateful to hang on for a point.
Adam Kay seemed well placed from Foster’s free kick but his header cleared the bar and Butlin went full length to hold on to Stef Frost’s low shot destined for the corner.
Butlin did even better in stoppage time getting a strong hand to Carl Slater’s shot for the top corner and diverting the ball for a fruitless corner.
Despite some wacky decisions from three poor officials it was an exciting and competitive game to watch for St Andrews biggest crowd of the season.
St Andrews: Warren Butlin, Dan Hodgkinson, Ryan Hawker, Nick Brett, Dan Henfrey, Sam Surridge, Ryan Woolley (Kris Stevenson 81), Elliot Wright, Keiran Linnett, James Mee, Ross Trevor. Substitutes not used: Matt Banton, Rob Ryan, Rob Atkins, Louie Edgell.
Heanor Town: Mark Frost, Jason Foster, Phil Austin, Carl Slater, Adam Kay, Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster, Lee Stevenson, Nathan Benger, Jake Vernon (Josh Royce 12), Stef Frost. Substitutes not used: Ryan Cancellara, Brett Peel, Graham Wells, Craig Hopkins.
Referee: Michael Scriven of Leicester. Attendance: 80
Yellow cards: St Andrews – Dan Henfrey (77). Heanor – Lee Stevenson (44), Mark Frost (72).
Star Lion: Nico Degirolamo
Goals: St Andrews – Keiran Linnett (33 and 72 penalty). Heanor – Josh Royce (46), Nathan Benger (75).
Next in action
Saturday January 2 - East Midlands Counties League - HEANOR TOWN v Barrow Town, 3pm.
Central Midlands League, Reserve Supreme Division - Rainworth MW Reserves v Heanor Town Reserves, 3pm.