It smells like team spirit at Heanor Town, says Benger, just like 2012 when they won a league title

Heanor Town v Highgate (green), Nathan Benger
Heanor Town v Highgate (green), Nathan Benger

The last time Heanor Town had such a tight knit group of players, they won a league title.

And striker Nathan Benger believes the Lions are in with a good chance of replicating their championship winning 2011/12 season.

The long serving front man could make his 200th appearance for the club this season, as they battle for the Midland Football League Premier title.

He’s as qualified as anyone to compare the current squad with their successful predecessors.

“We’ve had good teams, won the league and done well, and we’ve had good players come through,” he said.

“But in terms of team spirit this team is one of the best.

“It matches the team that won the league, in terms of togetherness.”

Heanor Town sit second in the table behind Hereford, but with a game in hand that could take the Lions top.

Benger says thatit’s a great position to find yourself in after 15 games and sees no reason why they can’t be celebrating after 42 games.

“I think if you had said that at the start, that we’d be second with a chance to go top after 15 games, we would have snatched it out of your hand.

“We’ve got a great chance if we stick together.”

It’s a new division for Heanor this season, having left the Northern Counties East League Premier in the summer, and Benger has been impressed by the standard and taken aback by some of the officiating.

“Every team has the ability to beat each other,” he said.

“We’ve seen that, we’ve had tough games against teams lower in the league table.

“That’s a big difference (from last season) and we thought it might be less physical - it’s not, but the referees stamp out any kind of physicality.

“I think they’ve been a bit harsh with us, but we’ve got to get used to it.”

The Lions have a rare weekend off, and can rest up after a recent hectic fixture schedule culminated in a 2-1 win at Stourport last Saturday.

It was Heanor’s fourth victory in a row, although Benger admits they weren’t quite at their best.

“It was a long journey and I think that affected us in the first half,” said the 29-year-old.

“Sometimes you just have to get results when you’re not playing your finest and we’ve managed to do that a few times this season.

“We’ve got a break now and although we’d probably prefer a game to keep momentum going, it’s nice to get a rest and work on things on the training ground.”