Rob O’Toole made it 32 goals in 32 games this season as Haywards Heath recorded their 21st straight league win against a resilient Little Common team.
Manager Shaun Saunders was back in the hot seat and made a few changes ahead of tonight’s fixture. Simon Lehkyj once again started in Goal, a back line of Bailie Rogers, Josh Bryant, Nathan Cooper and Scott Marshall remained unchanged from Saturday. Carl Dunk and Ryan Warwick held the middle. Completing the midfield was Jamie Weston and Danny Turner in for Callum Saunders. Up front was Rob O’Toole and alongside him Matt Geard who replaced the injured Freddie Barker. The bench consisted of Callum Saunders, Max Miller, Tom Graves, Mike Gardner and Alfie Rogers.
With the two sides having met three time already this season Heath new what a tough game they would be in for, Little Common had struggled for form of late but the worsening conditions could have proved a leveller.
The Hosts got off to a good start with a fast damp surface making the play quick,
On 4 minutes the Little Common wide midfield rode the challenge of Bailie Rogers and crossed low and hard across the 6 yard box, Simon Lehkyj did well to get down and cut out the ball and Nathan Cooper was on hand to tidy up the loose ball.
With 6 minutes played Little Common should have taken the lead, a fast break through the centre saw Nathan Cooper slip at the wrong moment and the striker a clear run on goal, face with a one on one Simon Lehkyj in the Heath goal made a fantastic stop at the strikers feet, this proved to be a turning point and as the ball was played up field Rob O’Toole nodded the ball into Danny Turners path, he cut inside only to see his shot well saved by the Commoners keeper, Rob O’Toole was first to react and steered the free ball into the empty net.
Heath really pick up their game now, with the wind and rain in their favour they looked to add to their first goal, on 11 minutes Skipper Matt Geard created some space just outside the Little Common box and saw his decent strike deflected just wide of the hosts goal.
The resulting corner from Jamie Weston cause panic in the Common box as first Nathan Cooper saw his header blocked on the line and with the ball only half clear Carl Dunk then saw his strike cleared from the line also.
On 14 minutes Jamie Weston curled a shot just wide as Heath kept the pressure on.
Carl Dunk was next to threaten the host’s goal but he could not keep his strike down and it cleared the bar.
On 23 minutes Little Common only half cleared a corner, Rob O’Toole laid the ball off to Josh Bryant by his strike from 18 yards went over the bar.
The game settled down with both sides battling it out in the middle but final balls being well dealt with by the back lines.
With 32 minutes played Little Common made a good move towards the Heath goal but the final strike was comfortably saved by Simon Lehkyj.
With just under 10 minutes of the half remaining Carl Dunk made the Little Common keeper work hard to keep it at just one goal, Rob O’Toole found the Heath midfielder and his strike from 20 yards looked destined for the top corner before a good save kept it out.
With 41 minutes played Heath finally extended their lead, and it was a familiar combination. Rob O’Toole found Danny Turner who saw his strike saved well, Turner then picked up the loose ball out wide and crossed, Rob O’Toole got in front of his marker to head home from 7 yards out and take his goal tally to 32 goals this season.
The second half Heath were kicking into the win and the rain, but as conditions deteriorated so did the clear cut chances for either side.
On 49 minutes Jamie Weston played the ball towards Rob O’Toole but he was aware to step over the ball for a free strike for Carl Dunk but he not keep his strike down.
With 65 minutes played Matt Geard won a free kick on the edge of the Little Common area, Jamie Weston stepped up but his effort hit the edge of the wall, Carl Dunk was first to react and his strike from a tight angle crashed into the back of the net clipping the post as it went in.
As the game progressed Heath introduced Max Miller for Rob O’Toole, Callum Saunders for Matt Geard and Mike Gardner for Carl Dunk.
Little Common continued to look for a way back into the game but Heath reduced them to shots from distance that didn’t trouble Simon Lehkyj in the Heath goal, at the other end Heath looked for a way through but the back line of the hosts held firm and prevented anything clear cut.
A good game played in the right spirit by two sides that wanted to play football, neither side picked up any bookings in a competitive match.
Man Of The Match – Carl Dunk– Power house in the middle of the park with the ability to control the game when needed and a great finish for his 6th goal of the season.
Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said “We knew it would be a difficult game and Little Common started really well, we rode our luck but then got that vital early goal, we really could have been more than two goals up at half time. The second struggled to get going with the poor weather but overall I’m delighted with the three points and a clean sheet.”
Next up for Heath is a trip to Seaford on Saturday 12th March in League One action 3pm kick off.
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