New Manager's Start off with Win
Photos by Ray Turner
Following the departure of Martin Dynan and his management team, the Heath travelled to the Isle of Sheppey for Dale Hurley & Alex Walsh’s first game in charge, with the fixture being only one of three in the Isthmian South-East division to survive the cold snap.
The Heath made three changes from their 3-1 loss to Sevenoaks Town with Cadman, Napper & Jalloh coming in for Holden, Ghannam and Franzen-Jones. The Blues lined up 3-5-2 with Jalloh playing up front alongside Tom Collins.
Haywards Heath started the game brightly, and a number of early set pieces paid dividends in the 8th minute, when an Alex Laing corner was headed home by Dean Gunner. Gunner was clearly emotional as he lifted his shirt to reveal a written message stating “For You Dad”, whilst being embraced by his teammates.
The Blues were unfortunate not to make it two in the 20th minute. Leon Moore launched a counter attack with a sweeping cross-field pass to Ibrahim Jalloh. Jalloh committed the defender and slid in an overlapping Tom Cadman, his near post effort hitting the inside of the post and unfortunately falling between Tom Collins and Alex Laing on the rebound.
The Ite’s immediately countered, and Jake Embery beat Billy Collings with a composed finish. In previous away games, the Heath may have let their heads drop, but not today. Almost immediately from the kick off, the blues pushed forward. Another Alex Laing corner was flicked onto the back post, some clever footwork from Darryl Siaw led to another cross which was headed in emphatically by Ibrahim Jalloh. 2-1 Heath in the 21st minute.
Another Jalloh and Cadman combination led to the Heath’s third in the 25th minute. Cadman this time going across the keeper from the left side sending the travelling support into raptures.
Sheppey were creating their own chances though, and Collings made several smart saves, with none better than his 1 on 1 stop in the 30th minute. The Ite’s continued to pressure though and in the 36th minute were rewarded through a Josh Wisson effort into the roof of the net.
The Heath desperately needed half time, and came out for the second half re-focused and more composed. Sheppey bombarded the Heath area with crosses but messrs Siaw, Gilbert & Gunner continued to throw their bodies into important blocks, whilst Collings was largely untroubled by long range potshots.
The goal of the game came in the 68th minute as Jalloh won possession, and slid the ball to Laing who smashed the ball over the keeper from 25+ yards out right into the centre of the net to make it 4-2. Heath had further chances to extend their lead through Gilbert who forced two saves from point blank range, whilst a number of goalmouth scrambles at the other end were well cleared by the Heath.
The final whistle marked Heath’s second away win of the season, and victory for Hurley/Walsh in their first game in charge.
MOTM: Leon Moore