If possession won games then Haywards Heath Town would have been out of sight, but unfortunately goals win games and it wasn't their day at Bedfont Sports in the FA Vase.
Heath arrived at the tidy ground of Bedfont Sports FC in which was likely to be the final game on their grass pitch before the £480k 3G began its installation. I understand the commercial advantage of a 3G but as pitches go it was a fine example, flat and well kept and in truth with the damp conditions would suit Heath's style of play.
It would not be the man in the middle's finest day, no minute's silence followed by 90 minutes of inconsistency but it would be the lack of goals for that would cost Heath a place in the third round.
The opening 10 minutes saw both sides looking for an early advantage, George Hayward saw his strike blocked after Max Miller pulled the ball back and Karly Akehurst fired just wide from 18 yards. The hosts had a great opportunity on 8 minutes but James Shaw pulled off a fine stop from close range.
Trevor McCreadie could only head a Jamie Weston corner wide on 12 minutes and then saw a good last ditch tackle block his shot a minute later.
The match became very stop start with free kick after free kick and then the first talking point of the game on 24 minutes, Trevor McCreadie raced clear and as he entered the area and looked to pull the trigger one of the chasing defenders clearly pulled the strikers shirt preventing the strike on goal and allowing the other defender to make a clean sliding tackle, as Heath protested Sports carried the ball into the Heath half and won a free kick of their own. The ball was played in and a first time strike found the bottom corner to give the hosts the lead.
Just after the half hour mark the hosts had a golden opportunity to double their lead where from a corner the attacker found space for a free header but planted it wide.
Next talking point of the game happened with in three minutes of each other, the host's number nine was given a yellow card after a later challenge on Bailie Rogers on the edge of his own box, just three minutes later the same player left his mark on Jamie Weston after going to ground and taking Weston out after the ball had gone, reasons only known to the man in the middle but the player was let off with a warning.
The half petered out with another chance a piece, James Shaw saving down low and George Hayward seeing his free kick deflected over the bar.
It didn't take long into the second half to work out sports game plan, as every chance to delay and slow down play was taken but never dealt with and they looked to play on the break whenever they could creating several half chances but nothing to trouble James Shaw early on.
Heath would often be found over playing the ball in key area's and not getting their shot off, on the occasions they did pull the trigger they found the hosts keeper protecting his net well. Karly Akehurst hit a low drive from 20 yards that was well gathered and Trevor McCreadie saw his strike heading for the top corner well tipped over but the diving keeper on 61 minutes.
Heath then made a double change on 61 minutes Joel Daly and Josh Spinks replacing Luc Doherty and Bailie Rogers.On 69 minutes Kane Louis returned to the action replacing Naim Rouane.
Heath continued with the lions share of possession but chances few and far between, Nathan Cooper couldn't get any power on his header and Kane Louis fired over the bar.
On 81 minutes James Shaw made the save of the match as he seemed to cover the whole goal making a full length save with the striker and supporters already celebrating.
In the last minute of normal time Heath really should have equalised, Max Miller was slipped in down the side of the area and pulled the ball across the 6 yard box right into the path of Trevor McCreadie but with just the open net to find he somehow put the ball back across goal and wide.
The game was then wrapped up by the hosts in the 2nd minute of injury time when a short corner was worked well and the midfielder drove into the box before smashing the ball into the top corner.
Heath Man of the Match - James Shaw - Stunning stops at key moments from the Heath keeper
Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said: "I'm bitterly disappointed today but we did not do what we needed to do, we overplayed in area's and were not clinical when we needed to be and ultimately paid the price. We must now bounce back and produce a performance that I know we are capable of against Eastbourne Utd on Tuesday night in the Peter Bentley Quarter Final."
Well done to Eastbourne Town, Newhaven and Horsham YMCA in reaching the 3rd round.
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