League leaders Heath finish off year with three points

Joel Daly goes close. Haywards Heath Town v Peacehaven. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj
Joel Daly goes close. Haywards Heath Town v Peacehaven. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj
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Haywards Heath Town reversed the Bank Holiday Monday score line as they took all three points against Peacehaven after fine first half finish from Joel Daly

Heath finished the year on a high but it was far from one way traffic as the impressive Peacehaven side made Heath work hard for the win.

Simon Lehkyj catches the ball under pressure. Haywards Heath Town v Peacehaven. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Simon Lehkyj catches the ball under pressure. Haywards Heath Town v Peacehaven. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

After the Boxing Day win at Hassocks there was just one change to the starting line up as Tom Graves returned to the side in place of Joel Daly.

The match had a lively start with the visitors pressing and happy to take the game to Heath but the first chance fell to Heath’s Alex Laing but from distance didn’t test Erikson Aga in the Peacehaven goal who held on easily.

Heath were dealt a blow a minute later when Callum Saunders needed replacing after picking up an injury in the opening minutes and not being able to continue, Joel Daly replaced him with the game barely seven minutes old.

Although the visitors were having good spells of possession they were failing to find anything in the final third, On 11 minutes Scott Chamberlain nearly caught Aga out striking at goal as the keeper anticipated a cross but the effort fizzed over the bar.

Jamie Weston holds the ball up. Haywards Heath Town v Peacehaven. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Jamie Weston holds the ball up. Haywards Heath Town v Peacehaven. Picture by Grahame Lehkyj

Bailie Rogers picked up the first caution of the afternoon with a late challenge in front of the visitors bench which could have been a different colour to yellow on another day.

Trevor McCreadie almost found Joel Daly with a good ball across the box but Daly failed to get a telling touch and the keeper did well to snuff out the danger.

Peacehaven continued to grow into the game and would have disappointed with a good chance on 24 minutes as Marshall finds space but fires over the bar.

Heath opened the scoring on 35 minutes as Alex Laing played a great reverse ball into the path of Joel Daly who drilled a great strike across Aga into the far corner.

Heath 1-0 Peacehaven

A great run by Alex Laing on 38 minutes saw the Heath striker end up in the referees book as his final touch was heavy as he closed in on goal and his slide for the ball was met at the same time as the keeper collecting it and deemed dangerous.

The visitors finished the half strongly where Heath had to deal with several free kicks, first a ball in was well headed clear, next Ford got his effort on target but it lacked power and finally on the stroke of half time a dangerous free kick about 20 yards was put over the bar by Marshall.

The second half was 5 minutes old when Alex Laing called Aga into action as his snap strike was well saved low down to the keepers left and out for a Heath corner. The resulting corner saw the ball fall at Tom Graves’ feet but his first time strike was well blocked by the Peacehaven defender.

Heath were almost caught out on 56 minutes and a firm reminder that it was a slim lead as LeGrange put a ball in that seemed to elude everyone and need hacking off the Heath line.

With an hour played Heath were again forced into a substitution as Nathan Cooper landed awkwardly after taking a knock in mid air and Max Miller came on with the shape having to move around.

Both sides had chances as the half progressed; Lloyd got a shot away for the visitors but went harmlessly wide before Trevor McCreadie was unable to make a good connection at the other end to test Aga.

On 71 minutes Ford for the visitors struck from 18 yards but straight at Simon Lehkyj in the Heath goal. Karly Akehurst then saw an effort well blocked and following the Heath corner Max Miller dragged his shot wide of the goal.

Alex Laing made way for George Hayward on 76 minutes as Heath made their final change of the afternoon.

As the match entered the final 10 minutes a Peacehaven freekick fell to Allen but he could only strike straight at Lehkyj for a simple stop.

Two final chances in the match came to Heath as first a strike from Scott Chamberlain fired over the bar from 20 yards out and then on the stroke of full time Trevor McCreadie worked some space but his strike whistled past the far post.

Man of the Match – Karly Akehurst – Covered the whole pitch once again playing with his heart on his sleeve.

Manager Shaun Saunders said: “It was really difficult opponents we have overcome today, the are a young and hungry side with plenty of energy but we raised our game and importantly got the clean sheet that I demand from the team, Joel took his goal well and it was enough for us to bag the three points today.”