Heanor Town 2
Radcliffe Olympic 1
Two goals in seven minutes from leading scorers Nathan Benger and Dan Williams turned this game on it’s head and brought Heanor Town a rare, but deserved, win over Radcliffe Olympic in atrocious weather at the Town Ground.
James Whitehead failed a fitness test and so Heanor relied on the side which beat Holwell in their last game.
Radcliffe risked their star striker Carl Westcarr, who made life difficult for the home defence before limping out of the game with a quarter of an hour left.
Radcliffe are an excellent team, composed in defence and described by Lions joint chief Glenn Kirkwood as an excellent passing team. And so it proved, but they do rely heavily on their defence before attacking on the break.
As such, Heanor compounded much of the game, played throughout in a strong, cold wind and driving rain, in the visitors half. The weather and the sodden surface though made accurate passing difficult.
The game’s first shot took 13 minutes, both high and wide and highly ambitious from Lee Stevenson, but at least it counted as a goal attempt.
Nine minutes later Williams shot wide on the turn from Benger’s pass, and on the half hour Williams’ overhead kick became the first real chance of the game but with Mountain beaten Miles cleared off the line.
Lee Askham’s tremendous dribble on 34 minutes saw him tugged back by Wes Spencer, but Mountain spread himself to save Natham Benger’s penalty and the clearest opportunity of the game so far went begging.
Westcarr tried hard up front for the visitors but it was obvious he was carrying an injury. He was also lectured for shirt pulling. But he turned Adam Kay on 38 minutes and set up a golden chance for Josh Royce who completely missed his kick in front of goal.
Royce then wasted another Westcarr opening by putting a free header high over the bar as the visitors proved their danger on the break.
Heanor continued to take the game to Radcliffe after the break but once again clear cut chances were difficult to forge and it did look likely that the first goal might settle the game.
And true to form the visitors supplied it after 64 minutes.
Anderson’s shot from just outside the area took a deflection and flew high to the left edge of the penalty area where Aaron Korol volleyed the ball over and CARL WESTCARR was left unmarked to steer it home from four yards.
And following the introduction of Graham Wells, Stevenson saved the Lions again when he got a timely toe to Royce’s goal bound shot to turn the ball for a corner.
Heanor stormed back with an eye on Radcliffe looking to make the game safe on the break.
Williams was a touch away from Webster’s cross, but Heanor’s next raid saw skipper Webster’s inch perfect cross steered into the top corner by leading scorer NATHAN BENGER’s towering 77th minute header to restore parity.
Substitute Grayson went close in another excellent Heanor move, and Benger had another header, this time from a corner, saved by Mountain, who now became overworked.
Suddenly the atrocious weather didn’t matter to players or supporters and Mountain failed to hold on to a Grayson shot and a defender scrambled the ball away for a corner.
It was Benger who supplied the cross which saw DAN WILLIAMS turned Spence and hit a glorious 15-yard shot into the top corner with six minutes of normal time left to give the Lions all three precious points.
Even a generous helping of almost five minutes stoppage time, much caused by the visitors, couldn’t see the visitors find a chink in the Lions now watertight defence in which Lee Stevenson and Brett Peel were outstanding.
Heanor Town: Frost, Stevenson, Austin, Cancellara, Peel, Kay, Webster, Gee-Pemberton (Grayson 74), Benger, Williams, Askham (Wells 69). Substitutes not used: Norris, Hardy, Hodgman
Radcliffe Olympic: Mountain, Miles, Dalmedo, Spencer, Spence, Walton (Maddison 89), Richardson, Anderson, Royce, Westcarr (Heath 74), Korol (Epps 69). No other nominated substitutes.
Referee: David Henfrey (West Hallam)
Yellow cards: Cancellara (Heanor) 86 minutes, Spence (Radcliffe) 60 minutes.
Star Lion: Lee Stevenson