Bowman on the Road: Haywards Heath hierarchy might need to adjust expectations

President Alan Jenkins Chairman Michael Cottingham and Doug Austen-Jones. Picture by Colin Bowman
President Alan Jenkins Chairman Michael Cottingham and Doug Austen-Jones. Picture by Colin Bowman

Last season we were proud to bring you mere hints of the positive goings on at sleeping giants Haywards Heath Town FC.

Their ground at Hanbury Park has undergone some major surgery and there was a sweeping promotion into the top County division. Manager Shaun Saunders galvanised a club and in turn all sorts of good things are happening for them.

Josh Spinks heads home the only goal again Uckfield. Picture by Colin Bowman

Josh Spinks heads home the only goal again Uckfield. Picture by Colin Bowman

Following three big opening league wins I took the opportunity to catch up with the Blues on bank holiday Monday when they took on AFC Uckfield at home.

A tight match ensued with on a very sunny morning. In all truth the hosts were a little lucky on the day but a Josh Spinks back stick header was enough to take all the spoils. At half time it was an honour to be invited into the boardroom for some refreshments and a chat with Chairman Michael Cottingham. He explained ‘we are very pleased with the start that we have made but we feel that this league is going to be very tough and as a board we are looking for 2016/17 to be a season of consolidation. Of course we are ambitious and our 5 year plan is to be playing Ryman League Football here in Haywards Heath.’ President Alan Jenkins agreed ‘ we are all singing from the same song sheet, if we can break into the top ten come 29th April then it will be a great season’.

On Tuesday 6th September Haywards Heath took on in form Eastbourne United in a top of the league clash at home. On a perfect night for football a real humdinger of a game unfolded. The visitors got off to a great start and looked very compact. Heath were happy to soak up and then use Max Miller’s pace up front. The game changed in an instant as Max broke down the right and Luc Doherty smashed home the resulting cross. Perhaps not the most eye pleasing goal but a game changer. For the next ten Eastbourne looked bemused. Indeed it was that man Max Miller who chased down a lost cause. That brought an error from the keeper which led to something very special indeed. From about 40 yards Jamie Weston lobbed a perfect shot into un guarded net. Both the players and ground erupted.

Heath continued to dominate proceedings during the second half with the visiting keeper very much involved. Heath couldn’t secure that killer 3rd and with 5 left Eastbourne drove themselves back into the contest with a well taken strike into the far corner. For the first time this season Heath had to defend deep and in numbers to take all three points two one. There was lots of relief and smiling faces amongst the home contingent.

The iconic wooden stand is now in full use. Picture by Colin Bowman

The iconic wooden stand is now in full use. Picture by Colin Bowman

It’s very early in the season to read what 15 points from 18 really means.

However the signs are very clear that Shaun Saunders has his team going in the right direction. And if they keep up that pace all season then the top County League Title could be a distinct possibility. Perhaps an upgrade on the current internal projections.

We will continue to keep tabs on the Blues league season, their fans might be in for a hell of a ride over the coming months. Why not get involved yourself, the next Saturday home match is October 1st against Littlehampton Town 3pm.

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