Haywards Heath Town 12, Saltdean Utd 0: Saunders’ men move within three points of title

Max Miller goes round the keeper. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj
Max Miller goes round the keeper. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Manager Shaun Saunders made a just one change to the starting line up from last week’s win against Steyning Town.

Simon Lehkyj continued in goal, a back line of Bailie Rogers, Nathan Cooper, Tom Graves and Scott Marshall. Carl Dunk returned to the starting line-up and alongside him was Ryan Warwick in the middle. Completing the midfield was Jamie Weston and Callum Saunders. Up front was Rob O’Toole and alongside him Max Miller again. The bench consisted of Matt Geard, Mike Gardner, Danny Turner, Jordan Harris and Alfie Rogers. Freddie Barker was still injured on the side-lines and Josh Bryant away.

Max Miller opens the scoring. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Max Miller opens the scoring. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Saltdean looked as if they would be in for a torrid day only arriving at Hanbury with the bear eleven and the manager on his own also named as the only sub, that being said Heath would still need to put in a competent display as they get ever closer to lifting the title.

Saltdean started the game well and with just a few minutes on the clock the right winger got in front of Ballie Rogers but pressure from the Heath full back and Simon Lehkyj quickly out at the wingers feet prevented any early set back.

Heath then took control of the game, Ryan Warwick drew a smart save from the Saltdean keeper low down to his left. With the win behind Heath Saltdean struggled to get out of their half, with 12 minutes played Nathan Cooper drew a good foul 25 yards out, the resulting free kick from Callum Saunders went just wide of the visitors left hand post.

Heath kept pressing and the break through never looked far away, on 14 minutes Max Miller rose highest to meet a Ryan Warwick Cross but saw his header clear the bar. Just three minutes later Heath deservedly took the lead, Callum Saunders found Rob O’Toole on the right and his ball in seemed to be cut out but Callum Saunders continued his run picking up the loose ball before forcing it across goal for Max Miller to tap home from close range.

Max Miller gets congratulated on his goal. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Max Miller gets congratulated on his goal. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Heath kept the pressure up, on 26 minutes Max Miller found Callum Saunders but his powerful strike just cleared the bar.

With 30 minutes on the clock Heath produced a great team goal, starting on the edge of the Heath area Jamie Weston switched the play to Scott Marshall, the right back spotted the run of Rob O’Toole and found him in the channel, as he drew players in the area he cut the ball back to Callum Saunders who was arriving and his first time strike flew straight past the Saltdean keeper.

On 32 minutes Rob O’Toole thought he had opened his account for the day when his bullet header seemed to be heading for the top corner but the Saltdean keeper pulled off a first class save. From the resulting corner Callum Saunders found some space just outside the box and his strike hit the hand of the Saltdean player to which the referee pointed to the spot despite the protests of the visiting team and manager. Rob O’Toole stepped up and coolly slotted home sending the keeper the wrong way.

The visitors day was to get worse just three minutes later as skipper Carl Dunk released Max Miller and as he raced clear produced a fine left foot finish into the top corner.

As the Saltdean heads started to go Heath drove the nail in some more, Rob O’Toole worked hard on the left and his low cross was only partly cleared to the edge of the box where Carl Dunk picked up the free ball and smartly placed the ball into the bottom corner on 39 minutes.

There were no signs of Heath taking their foot off the gas as number six arrived on 42 minutes, Rob O’Toole cut out two defenders with a great flick into the path of Ryan Warwick, he then went on a mazy solo run that after cutting into the box left the keeper stranded firing into the near post.

As half time approached Heath were in seventh heaven with their sixth goal in 15 devastating minutes as Callum Saunders spotted the run of top goal scorer Rob O’Toole and he calmly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper to score his second of the game and Heath’s 100th goal in the league this season.

Manager Shaun Saunders made a double substitution at the break with Bailie Rogers and Ryan Warwick being replaced by Matt Geard and Danny Turner.

On 48 minutes Max Miller was disappointed not to grab his third after racing clear he dragged his shot wide of the target. Heath did not have to wait long before the second half scoring though, Danny Turner did well on the left and found Rob O’Toole on the bye line his pull back was then steered home by Matt Geard of his 6th goal of the season.

Danny Turner was next to go close but his strike across goal evaded everyone and just went past the post.

Saltdean managed a rare attack and after forcing a corner the ball in needed Scott Marshall to clear the ball off the line to keep the clean sheet intact.

Nathan Cooper then made way for Mike Gardner on 55 minutes.

A minute after the substitution the next goal arrived, again it was Rob O’Toole at the heart of it as he got to the Saltdean bye line his firm strike across goal looking for Max Miller at the far post was hacked into his own net by the covering Saltdean defender.

With just under 30 minutes left to play Heath settled down, Danny Turner saw his strike clear the bar before Saltdean mustered two chances of their own, first the ball was fired over the bar the a low strike required Simon Lehkyj to keep concentration and make the save.

Saltdean to their credit did keep trying to make a dent in the Heath score line but on 72 minutes Simon Lehkyj again made a smart stop down to his left.

On 74 minutes the post came to the aid of Saltdean to prevent double figures, after Matt Geard was fouled on the edge of the Saltdean box Callum Saunders free kick was met well by the stooping Tom Graves but he saw his header across goal hit the post and Max Miller’s follow up looped over the bar.

As the game entered the final 8 minutes Heath finally made it double figures, Rob O’Toole spotted the run of Callum Saunders who had come more central and he made no mistake finding the bottom corner with a good finish.

On the 87th minute Callum Saunders wrapped up a fine game with a bullet header finding the far corner from a Danny Turner cross that saw him claim his hat-trick.

With just one minute remaining Max Miller finally completed his hat-trick as Jamie Weston found the striker who controlled on his chest before breaking free of to challenges and slotting the ball into the far corner under the keeper.

Man Of The Match – Rob O’Toole – Involved in almost everything today and covered most of the pitch, unlucky to see the dubious goals committee award one goal as a clear own goal.

Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said: “It was a great win today, obviously difficult for Saltdean who are struggling at the moment but we again played some great football and can only compete with what is in front of you, Monday will be a real test against a good Mile Oak side that are in fine form also currently.”

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