East Midland Counties League Cup Third Round
Heanor Town 2
Blackwell MW 1
HEANOR Town came from behind to win a place in the semi-finals for the first time when substitute Jake Vernon raced clear to lob Wayne Smith 53 seconds into stoppage time at the end of the game.
The early stages were a fast and furious long ball game with the visitors looking by far the stronger side.
Indeed, they took a deserved lead on six minutes when skipper Jimmy Spiers found the top corner with a rocket of a shot from just outside the penalty area to justify their early endeavours.
It took Heanor the best part of half an hour to make any impact on the game and 27 minutes for them to win their first corner. It was followed five minutes later by a smart shot on the turn from Benger straight into Smith’s midriff from Gary Webster’s cross.
Webster was by far Heanor’s most outstanding first half player and a brilliant 40th minute run and pass put Graham Wells clear but Smith was smartly off his line to smother the final shot.
With 45 minutes almost up a cross from the right caused some panic in Blackwell’s defence and a scuffed clearance hit Gary Webster on the toe, shot up in the air enough for him to crack the equaliser into the top corner on the volley.
If Heanor were a tad fortunate to be level at the break Blackwell had only themselves to blame for not making more of their long period of possession.
Stef Frost replaced Danny Claridge at half time, and Frost himself was replaced by Carl Slater 24 minutes later when he suffered an injury.
It was Heanor’s turn to have more possession but they too could make little progress in front of goal.
Jimmy Spiers seemed to be at the heart of everything Blackwell engineered going forward and it wasn’t hard to see why he was high on the Heanor management’s shopping list last close season.
Neil Grayson was wide with an overhead kick for Heanor and Vernon’s cross beat everyone in front of goal in their next raid.
Both Grayson and Brett Peel missed headed chances in front of goal as extra time loomed.
But the best chance fell to Blackwell when Peel was penalised for shirt pulling on the edge of the penalty area with five minutes left, and after what seemed like an age former Lion Danny O’Donnell hammered the free kick into the home wall.
Nico Dgirolamo went on a great solo run but fired over as the goal came into sight.
Extra time looked inevitable as Blackwell attacked near the end.
Then Mark Frost launched a long high ball down the middle, Neil Grayson, shaven head gleaming in the floodlights, rose an inch above the gigantic David Leak to head the ball on and Jake Vernon raced between two defenders to lob over the onrushing Smith and Heanor were in their first semi-final since their Central Midlands League days.
Heanor Town: Mark Frost, Lee Stevenson, Danny Claridge (Stef Frost 45/Carl Slater 69), Rockie White, Brett Peel, Nico Degirolamo, Gary Webster, Kieran Debrouwer, athan Benger (Jake Vernon 57), Neil Grayson, Graham Wells. Substitutes not used – Adam Kay, Matt Foster.
Blackwell MW: Wayne Smith, Jack Davies, Gareth Davey, Matt Blake, David Leak, Jimmy Spiers, Ricki Saxby, Danny O’Donnell, Ben Bacon, Simon Johnson (Stephen Cox 56), Tom Land. Substitutes not used – Reece Bertram, Tom Widdison, Joe McShane, Simon Wilkinson
Referee: Mateuz Kiecz of Doncaster.
Yellow card: Brett Peel (Heanor) 85 minutes
Star Lion: Gary Webster