Haywards Heath Town overcame a lively Lingfield Side to pick up their 30th league win of the season.
After playing just 3 days earlier and 3 games in 5 days Manager Shaun Saunders starting line was shuffled, Simon Lehkyj continued in goal, a back line of Bailie Rogers, Nathan Cooper, Tom Graves and Jordan Harris. Matt Geard captained the side and was partnered by Carl Dunk in the middle. Completing the midfield was Danny Turner and Jamie Weston. Up front was Freddie Barker and alongside him top goal scorer Rob O’Toole. The bench consisted of Max Miller, Scott Marshall and Ryan Warwick. Unavailable were Mike Gardner, Alfie Rogers, Callum Saunders and Josh Bryant.
It was clear from the start that the hosts would look to get at Heath early and the pressing and pace from the young Lingfield side would set the tone for the first 45 minutes.
The first opportunity fell to Lingfield after winning a corner after just 2 minutes the ball in was met well but the Lingfield player could nit direct his header on target.
Heath first chance of the game came on 13 minutes after Freddie Barker had been fouled down the side of the Lingfield area, Carl Dunk’s ball in found Rob O’Toole in space but his header was unusually off target and over the top.
Heath started to get to grips with the game but chances were at a premium Carl Dunk struck a central free kick from 30 yards that cleared the bar.
On 21 minutes Lingfield had the best chance to open the scoring, after being put through the striker beat Simon Lehkyj to the ball and with the goal gaping sent the ball towards it only for Bailie Rogers to get back and heroically clear the ball off the line to keep the scores level.
Just before the half hour Danny Turner was left scratching his head as Heath broke quickly and the ball across found him 4 yards out but a mix of good defending and poor contact saw the ball go harmlessly wide.
The deadlock was finally broken on 38 minutes as Heath’s leading scorer Rob O’Toole made it 38 goals for the season. Danny Turner picked out the perfect cross and Rob O’Toole made no mistake this time burying his header into the back of the net.
Just 3 minutes later the hosts were almost level, Nathan Cooper seemed to be fouled in the build up but nothing was given and it took a great save low down from close range from Simon Lehkyj to keep Heath ahead.
As the half drew to a close another Danny Turner cross was met by Rob O’Toole but his attempt was blocked and the Freddie Barkers follow up was saved.
The final chance of the half fell to the hosts as the striker broke free but his strike lacked direction and composure and went harmlessly high and wide.
On balance of play Lingfield would have been disappointed not to be level at the break but Heath took that key opportunity to get ahead and work hard to keep a clean sheet at the break.
Heath came out the second half looking to up their game, they pressed quicker and moved the ball faster looking to get in behind their hosts.
On 49 minutes Jordan Harris spotted the run of Rob O’Toole and after shifting the ball to his right hit a great shot that cannoned off the post before being cleared out for a Heath corner.
On the hour Heath doubled their lead with a well worked goal, Rob O’Toole won the ball well in the air flicking it into the path of Freddie Barker, his quick turn and pass picked out Danny Turner who travelled into the box and drove the ball past the Lingfield keeper.
Lingfield did not stop looking for a way back into the game and on 63 minutes a boll into the Heath box was headed over by the Lingfield striker.
Heath made a double substitution on 64 minutes with Ryan Warwick replacing Carl Dunk and Max Miller replacing Rob O’Toole.
As the game entered the final 13 minutes Ryan Warwick almost caught the keeper out with a quick turn and strike from 20 yards that required tipping over.
With just 10 minutes remaining it was game over, Freddie Barker worked hard in the Lingfield box to keep the ball alive, he pulled the ball back to Max Miller who’s ball across found Danny Turner arriving and his volley smashed into the back of the Lingfield net.
Again the hosts looked to break the Heath back line and a through ball was struck well but went over the bar.
On 83 minutes Scott Marshall replaced Bailie Rogers at full back.
Just a minute later the hosts grabbed a deserved consolation, Heath were caught out of shape at the back and the ball in found the Lingfield striker who had enough time to smash the ball past Simon Lehkyj.
With just 3 minutes remaining Max Miller took his seasons tally to 27 goals and increase Heath goal difference to 101, Ryan Warwick spotted the run of the striker and as he cruised into the box made no mistake putting the ball firmly past the advancing keeper.
Man Of The Match – Danny Turner – One assist and two goals from the likeable winger.
Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said: “We played much better tonight, Lingfield made us work hard for the 3 points but I was really pleased with the lads as the season starts to conclude, I was of course disappointed to concede but was happy that we had done enough by that point in the game.”
Next up for Heath is a trip to Crawley Down Gatwick on Saturday 30th April in their final league game of the season 3pm kick off.
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