During every title winning season there will be occasions when you have to win when not at your best.
It's a real football cliché but our local county outfit Haywards Heath Town FC did that on Lancing's 4G pitch today. At the end of a fraught and sometimes ill-tempered affair manager Shaun Saunders was beaming.
After a very frosty start to the day many games in our area were called off. However owing to Sussex HQ laying down what looks to be a gorgeous 4G 'plastic' pitch the Blues trip south west never looked in danger. Thanks to Pete for driving in his Corsa, most appreciated.
The game kicked off in perfect conditions. Sunny, bright, still and dry but for those watching on it was a little chilly. And it was the hosts who got off to a great start. It was soon obvious that Heath were struggling to come to terms with the surface.
Lancing pinged the ball around well and made three decent chances in the first half hour. The visitors seemed rushed and not in control of the football at all. However when your second in the league things do start to gel and it was their striker Trevor McCreadie who led the way. He started dropping deep to collect the ball and making simple passes. It led to more time on the ball and chances.
Perhaps the forward should have done better with a great chance deep in the half. 0-0 at half time.
Both teams came out all guns blazing with some stinging attacks.
Fans' favourite Max Miller, operating down the left had two chances to get telling shots away but was strangely out of sorts. While that cameo was being played out several tasty challenges were going in all over the pitch. An undercurrent of ill temper started to bubble away. It must of been a tough decision to make but Saunders hooked Max Miller after around an hour. It turned into a stroke of genius as Heath suddenly turned up the heat.
They then benefitted from huge slice of luck. Callum Saunders slung over a corner only for the Lancing keeper to drop it inch perfect to Tom Graves who gleefully taped home from five yards. That fiery atmosphere then surfaced big time after a wild challenge from the home defence. Around 18 players all got involved in 'handbags' which took a good 5 mins for the officials to get sorted. It was Heath that recovered the better and just a few mins later they produced a piece of magic.
They quickly moved the ball across the middle out to Saunders who then calmly tucked the ball square for man of the match Trevor McCreadie a tap in.
At the end of an exhilarating afternoon for all Blues connections Shaun said: "I am very pleased to be getting away from here with the points today, we weren't at our best. But it's a clean sheet and sometimes you have to win ugly."
As eluded to in previous pieces our local sleeping giants HHTFC are going great guns and are now on the tails of rivals Shoreham Fc. (just one point behind). Shorham have a bunch of golden oldies, Lee D, Andy P, Joe K, Graham M and Rob O (I love you all) who might all start to wilt in the next couple of months. I still believe its Heath's title to go and nick late in the season.
Whatever happens its going to be very exciting around Hanbury Park all the way through to April 29. Why not go down there and check it all out. They play Worthing United on January 28 3pm kick off.