Trevor McCreadie’s third hat-trick of the season helped propel Heath to another fine win over a good Loxwood side, writes Stu Morgan.
Manager Shaun Saunders was able to name an unchanged side from that that beat Saltdean in mid-week with the only changes coming on the bench that saw both Max Miller and George Hayward return.
The opening 10 minutes of the match was a quiet affair with little action at either end, Loxwood then started making the better head way into the game with a couple of strikes going over and Josh Heyburn being called into the first save of the game with a fine diving save to his right.
With 22 minutes played Heath sparked into life an initial ball into the box by Joe Dryer was only half cleared by the Loxwood defender and as Trevor McCreadie picked up the ball he needed no second invitation to take the strike on and from the edge of the box steered the ball into the bottom corner.
Just 48 seconds passed from the restart to Heath’s second of the afternoon, Nathan Cooper picked up the loose ball and picked out Trevor McCreadie who out-paced his marker before slamming the ball past the Loxwood keeper for his and Heath’s second of the afternoon.
Loxwood responded well and were unlucky from a good strike that just cleared the bar, they did pull a goal back on 33 minutes when Heath didn’t deal with a long throw in and the ball carried along the six yard box to the back post where Michael Wood tapped the ball in.
The margin was back to two goals however when two minutes later Joel Daly sent a corner in and skipper Tm Graves headed the ball back across goal, Karly Akehurst out jumped the defenders but his header hit the underside of the bar but fell nicely to Alfie Rogers who made no mistake from three yards out.
Heath finished the half strong and Trevor McCreadie really should have wrapped up his hat trick, Alfie Rogers and Karly Akehurst combined with the latter stabbing a shot that was well saved, the loose ball though fell straight to Trevor McCreadie who was disappointed not to hit the target.
Heath did have the ball in the net just before the break but the final touch from Alfie Rogers was deemed to be offside.
Heath made a half time substitution with Max Miller replacing Luc Doherty who had picked up a knock in the first half.
The half was ten minutes old when Karly Akehurst again out jumped his markers at a Heath corner but couldn’t keep his header down under the pressure from the keeper.
With 62 minutes played Heath were awarded a penalty, Trevor McCreadie did well on the right and found Alfie Rogers, his close control saw him draw defenders and with a shove in the back went over. Trevor McCredie stepped up and although the keeper guessed correctly he could not get to the strike.
Karly Akehurst really deserved a goal after winning the ball on the half way line he carried the ball towards the Loxwood box and hit a low strike from 20 yards out that was equally well saved, the keeper then made a great follow up save from Alfie Rogers who couldn’t force the ball in.
Loxwood kept pressing for a way back into the game but again failed to keep the ball down, Bailie Rogers then replaced Jamie Weston on the left for Heath’s second change of the match.
On 70 minutes the visitors were awarded a penalty, a ball into the Heath box kicked up and was adjudged to have hit Max Miller on the arm, the referee made a quick decision and pointed to the spot. Ollie Moore stepped up but Josh Heyburnguessed correctly and made a smart save to his left.
More Chances came and went at both ends with a Loxwood player unable to direct his header on target, at the other end a fine Volley from Alfie Rogers was again met with a fine save as the score remained as they were.
Heath made their final change with 81 minutes on the clock as Jahmahl King replaced Nathan Cooper in the heart of the defence. With King still adjusting to the game a heavy touch a minute later saw the Loxwood skipper Byron Napper pounce on the ball and fire into the far corner from 8 yards out.
Man of the Match – A join award this week with Trevor McCreadie for his work rate and hat trick and Karly Akehurst who covered nearly every blade of grass and along with his usual control of the middle could nearly got on the score sheet on several occasions.
Afterwards manager Shaun Saunders said: “As always I’m pleased with the win especially against a side that is as good as Loxwood, we really need to cut out the mistakes that are gifting the opposition goals but overall the three points are what really matter the most.”