Haywards Heath Town kept up their promotion push with a well-earned victory at East Preston on a difficult playing surface at Lashmar to make it 8 games unbeaten in all competitions.
At the business end of the season, early goals are vitally important as opposition teams look to dig in and make things as difficult as possible.
Heath almost got exactly what they were looking for in the fifth minute through Melford Simpson who had his shot well saved by the legs of East Preston goalkeeper Ben Purkis who rushed off his line to close down the angle.
Simpson then broke the deadlock for the visitors 10 minutes later as he produced a neat turn and finish from Karly Akehurst’s long throw to score from an acute angle which went across the goalkeeper and into the far corner.
The goal was all the more impressive due to the fact he was being manhandled by an East Preston defender, but you just can’t tame a bear!
Jamie Weston went closest to adding to Heath’s lead in the 40th minute when his deep cross from out on the left forced Purkis to turn the ball onto the crossbar when it was set to sneak into the top corner.
Karly Akehurst - playing in the number 10 role this afternoon - did double Heath’s lead on the stroke of half-time as Simpson’s headed ball through left him one on one with the goalkeeper whom he beat low to his left with a composed finish.
The second half was rather uneventful with chances at a premium as Heath looked to keep their two goal cushion; indeed it took until the 75th minute for a proper effort on goal of any danger as Karly Akehurst’s effort found the side-netting.
East Preston had a good chance from a free-kick in the final 10 minutes which forced Josh Heyburn into making a save from point blank range at the near post, but Heath held firm to record their fourth clean sheet in six games as their late-season resurgence continued with another three points heading back to Mid-Sussex.
Man Of The Match: Scott Chamberlain
Restored to midfield having filled in at right-back for a number of games, his extra bit of class and vision on a difficult pitch was pivotal in controlling the game for the Blues.