After a slow start to the game Heath hit Midhurst and Easebourne hard in the second half to secure a good three point on a very wet day at Hanbury.
After 120 minutes against Ryman South side East Grinstead Town on Tuesday night Manager Shaun Saunders shuffled the squad to keep everyone fit and available for the FA Vase game next week.
In goal was the ever present Simon Lehkyj, Scott Marshall continued at full back with Bailie Rogers, Tom Graves and Josh Bryant making up the back line, Carl Dunk returned to skipper the side after serving his one match ban. Ryan Warwick and Jamie Weston continued in midfield with a debut being given to recent signing Callum Saunders. Up front Rob O’Toole was partner by another new signing Phil Johnson also making his debut. The strong bench consisted of Danny Turner, Max Miller, Matt Geard, Jordan Harris and Nathan Cooper. Heath were without Freddie Barker still injured and Mike Gardner who was away.
With conditions difficult for both teams the first half was short on chances but the lions share did fall to Heath, On 6 minutes a good flowing move Rob O’Toole fed the ball into the middle and Phil Johnson’s clever step over saw the ball through to Carl Dunk but his strike from the edge of the box flew just over the top.
Five minutes later both Rob O’Toole and Jamie Weston combined well and found Callum Saunders arriving on the right but his strike could only find the side netting.
It was Rob O’Toole that went closest to opening the scoring on 18 minutes when he met a Callum Saunders cross with a superb diving header that was heading for the bottom corner before the Midhurst and Easebourne keeper pulled off a fine save.
The game flattened somewhat as the rain continued to pour out of the sky, Midhurst and Easebourne worked hard when in possession and looked tidy with the ball but rarely got too advanced to trouble Simon Lehkyj in the Heath goal as the back line and midfield protected the Heath area.
On 37 minutes big defender Tom Graves went close after meeting a Jamie Weston corner but seeing the ball cleared off the line quicker than he could celebrate.
The deadlock was finally broken on 40 minutes as Heath’s hard work and persistence paid off. Carl Dunk picked the ball up on the right of midfield and played a great diagonal ball to pick out Phil Johnson who made no mistake coolly beating the advancing keeper for his first goal in a Heath shirt and Heath’s first of the day.
Just before the half time whistle blew Heath were given a warning that Midhurst and Easebourne were still very much in the game as a free kick deep in the Heath half on the right was headed back at goal but dropped just on the roof of the net.
The second half began with the weather not letting up and neither would Heath in their quest for 3 important league points.
Rob O’Toole whose work rate all game had been second to none but chances had been limited suddenly started to find his range, on 47 minutes his low drive was well gathered and held by the visitor’s keeper.
On 62 minutes Rob O’Toole saw his square ball in to Phil Johnson well cut out by the covering defender, the resulting corner was sent in by Jamie Weston and met by Josh Bryant who headed the ball perfectly and firmly on the 6 yard box to double Heath’s lead.
Five minutes later it was effectively game over as Phil Johnson turned provider sending the ball across the 6 yard box which Rob O’Toole met superbly sliding in to steer the ball home from close range.
On 70 minutes younger Jordan Harris replaced Carl Dunk and then four minutes later Heath made their final change with Rob O’Toole being replaced by Max Miller.
Max Miller was to make an immediate impact as within just 2 minutes of being introduced he was to make it 4 goals for Heath, racing on to a great through ball from Jamie Weston he finished brilliantly as the keeper closed the space down.
Heath final goal of the game came in the 79th minute, a great run and cut inside by Jamie Weston opened up space for the strike which was well hit and produced a good save that Phil Johnson pounced on and at the second attempt via hitting the post converted from close range.
As the clock ran down Midhurst and Easebourne tested Simon Lehkyj from distance but it didn’t trouble the Heath number 1,
Heath then could have added even more to their tally but first Max Miller fired wide followed by Phil Johnson heading wide minutes later, the final chance of the game fell to Phil Johnson, Max Miller broke and out-paced the defender, his early ball across found Jamie Weston who in turn found Phil Johnson but his strike was once again well saved.
Full Time Heath 5-0 Midhurst and Easebourne
Man of the Match – Ryan Warwick - very much in the heart of it all today with good energy forwards and back.
Afterwards Manager Shaun Saunders said “Today’s conditions made it difficult but we got better as the game progressed and should have converted more but it’s another 3 important league points and 9 straight league wins now”
Next up Heath travel to Tadley Calleva in the 2nd round of the FA Vase on the 21st November, Players and supporters coach leaves at 10:30am from Hanbury Stadium, if you require a space (£10 per adult & £5 per child) please email firstname.lastname@example.org
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