Heath may have exited the Sussex Senior Cup but they ran their Ryman league visitors close over the 120 minutes of fast paced football.
After Saturday’s postponement at Crawley Down, Carl Dunk had to sit the game out as he served his 1 match ban, Heath still had Nathan Cooper side-lined as he recovers from his ankle ligament damage. Heath lined up with Simon Lehkyj in goal with a back line of Scott Marshall, Tom Graves, Bailie Rogers and Josh Bryant. In Midfield Matt Geard continued to skipper the team alongside Ryan Warwick, Danny Turner and Jamie Weston in midfield. Up front Max Miller partnered Rob O’Toole. The bench consisted of Jordan Harris, James Westlake, Mike Gardner and the returning from injury Freddie Barker.
The Hanbury pitch again looked in great condition and a big thanks must go to Roy and all that helped prepare it ready for this evening after such wet conditions leading up to the weekend and it being played on on Saturday.
It was clear from the kick off that it was going to be a face paced game, the lively visitors played quick football but Heath were solid and showed they would be just as dangerous going forwards.
Early on half chances fell for both sides, Jamie Weston found Rob O’Toole but his header lacked power to trouble the Wasp’s vocal keeper. At the other end East Grinstead tried from distance but Simon Lehkyj was right behind it. Heath then showed the better opening as Max Miller got on the end of a Jamie Weston ball in but the header was comfortably held.
On 17 minutes Rob O’Toole went the closest to opening the score but his free kick curled just wide with the keeper beaten.
Both sides worked the ball well through the middle but both defences stood firm. On 27 minutes Danny Turner did well to create some space and cross the ball but again the keeper was well placed and saved the header easily.
The biggest talking point of the game happened on 36 minutes as the East Grinstead striker got free and as he went round Simon Lehkyj seemed to go over on the ball, the referee pointed to the spot much to the Heath protests that no contact was made. The taker stepped up and placed the ball into the bottom right corner just out of reach of Simon Lehkyj’s dive.
Two minutes after the restart the visitors almost increased their lead from a direct free kick that narrowly cleared the crossbar.
As the half drew to a close Heath finished the stronger, a Danny Turner corner was almost turned in by Josh Bryant but last gasp defending saw the ball deflected over. On the stroke of half time Scott Marshall got forwards from right back and his cross almost turned into a goal as it zipped across the face and everyone left the ball that just missed the far post.
The second half was just a fast paced but lacked that real cutting edge in the way of clear chances. Heath replaced Tom Graves with Mike Gardner on 54 minutes and then Max Miller made way for Freddie Barker on 67 minutes.
With time ticking on Heath really started to press their visitors and after Josh Bryant again saw a strike well blocked after a Danny Turner corner it seemed to again lift the home side. The visitors were being reduced to shooting from distance that didn’t trouble Simon Lehkyj. As the fast game flowed so did the yellow cards as the referee issued multiples throughout the game!
With just two minutes of normal time Heath’s never say die attitude finally paid dividends. Scott Marshall and Danny Turner combined on the right and the deep cross was met by Rob O’Toole who rose highest and made no mistake powering his header home from 5 yards out.
As the extra 30 minutes began both sides looked committed to winning the game, Heath continued to get forwards but it was the Wasps who stung Heath first, In the 93 minute a strike from 25 yards seemed to be going wide of Simon Lehkyj’s left hand post but a wicked deflection around 20 yards out left the Heath stopper helpless as the ball rolled into the opposite corner.
On 97 minutes it seemed to be game set and match for the visitors as Heath backed off the East Grinstead striker curled his shot into the far corner from 16 yards out.
Heath introduced Jordan Harris as Freddie Barkers comeback was cut short, this change allowed Scott Marshall push into a more advanced position. A positive rum from Scott Marshall saw his strike from 20 yards just drift past the post.
On 103 minutes Heath were again lifted ad Jamie Weston did well in the East Grinstead box and his cut back saw Rob O’Toole fire into the top corner giving the Grinstead keeper no chance.
The second period saw East Grinstead shut up shop, they played tight and ran the corners and the clock down, more yellow cards flowed as both sides tried to keep control of the ball. As Heath pushed forwards looking for another late equaliser they were left exposed at the back, Simon Lehkyj was able to get down well to push the ball round the post on 117 minutes but it was finally game over on 119 minutes as East Grinstead broke fast and finished well.
The final whistle sounded as East Grinstead saw a speculative effort cannon off the crossbar and end Heath’s time in the Sussex Senior cup this season.
Full Time AET Heath 2-4 East Grinstead Town
Man of the Match – Rob O’Toole worked hard all night and two great finishes
Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said “I’m really proud of the lads we have worked our Ryman visitors all night and to take them to extra time shows what a great attitude we all have. I’m already raring to go again this Saturday.”
Next up Heath welcome Midhurst and Easebourne to Hanbury this Saturday in an early 2pm Kick Off
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