Heanor get title bid back on track

East Midlands

Counties League

Heanor Town 2

Greenwood Meadows 0

Two goals in seven minutes midway through the first half by leading scorer Nathan Benger gave Heanor Town a comfortable victory and kept them at the forefront of the title race.

Heanor made changes from the side which lost in midweek at Graham Street Prims with skipper Gary Webster missing his first league start since joining the club in August 2009.

Greenwood Manager Nev Silcock though admitted that he was able to field his full-strength line-up for only the third time this season.

Heanor went looking for their usual early goal in an open start which resulted in the ball switching from end to end at a rapid rate without either side being able to carve out a clear chance. There was some excellent football from both sides.

First chance came to Heanor on 16 minutes when Nathan Benger’s header from a Graham Wells free kick hit the bar.

Second chance on 25 minutes saw BENGER’s absolutely superb header from Lee Askham’s free kick give Heanor the lead.

Third chance also fell to NATHAN BENGER. This time on 32 minutes when his excellent shot on the turn fooled goalkeeper Ryan Murphy, who was also unsighted, and the ball raced inside an upright.

Between times, Murphy had saved an Askham shot, Dan Williams follow up, and watched the third effort go narrowly wide.

Ash Grayson, skippering the Lions for the first time in a league game, saw his header from a corner go a foot wide, whilst Eugene Francis’s shot at the other end was comfortably saved by Mark Frost.

Greenwood might have been back in the game before the interval had Jourdain Blair not wanted too much time to tickle a Cashel Walters cross into an empty net and allowed the joint efforts of Brett Peel and Adam Kay to clear.

Twice, in the 52nd and 54th minutes, Antwon Bonick first and then Alex Haughton both failed to attack the ball as it cross in front of an open goal, and they could well have been punished further had Murphy not tipped over a blistering shot that threatened to record Benger’s third hat-trick for the club a tad under the hour.

Benger then saw his lob saved on the line by Murphy and the same fate fell to Adam Kay’s header from a corner.

Murphy was being overworked and he saved superbly from Wells when he was put through by Williams on 70 minutes and six minutes from the end a splendid Heanor move beginning with Phil Austin, ending with Williams and helped on by Benger, brought another classy stop from the visiting custodian.

In stoppage time Wells failed to find the far corner of the net from an acute angle when sent clear, and although Greenwood had plenty of possession, and played some lovely football at times, they failed to trouble Mark Frost due to some incisive defending particularly from Peel and Kay.

Match stats

Heanor Town: Frost, Whitehead, Austin, Cancellara, Peel, Kay, Askham (Webster 70), Grayson, Benger, Williams (Gee-Pemberton 84), Wells. Substitutes not used – Stevenson, Hodgman, Naughton.

Greenwood Meadows: Murphy, Branson, Walker, Graham (Silcock 85), Staples, Hutchinson (Robinson 65), Francis, Walters, Bonick (Meakin 69), Haughton, Blair. Substitute not used – Miles.

Referee: James Bateman (Newark)

Attendance: 73

Yellow Cards: Heanor – Williams (persistent fouling 75), Grayson (late tackle 81): Greenwood – Branson (late tackle 36), Graham (persistent fouling 41).

Star Lion: Ryan Cancellara

Next in action

Saturday March 19

East Midlands Counties League - Thurnby Nirvana v Heanor Town (3pm).

Central Midlands League Reserve Supreme Division - Heanor Town Reserves v Shirebrook Town Reserves (3pm).

Wednesday March 23

East Midlands Counties League - Heanor Town v Gedling Town (7.45pm).