10 Men Heath Lose out at the death
Heath made the trip south-west to Littlehampton on Saturday with three points set firmly in focus. Jay Lovett’s line up included new signing Spike Steggall at the heart of defence and fellow new arrival Brad Santos on the bench.
A bright start to the game saw the Blues looking confident in possession with the ball being circulated well around the Littlehampton defence. The fast start demanded by Lovett got its reward in the 3rd minute with Tom Collins timing his run behind the Golds defence to perfection and he made no mistake to put Heath ahead with a calm finish.
Heath’s plans were interrupted in the 20th minute when influential midfielder James Dickson was caught with a trailing elbow whilst challenging for a ball and had to be replaced due to the injury. George McCarthy coming on and looking at home in the centre of midfield.
The Blues continued to dictate the pace and seemed relatively comfortable, with Littlehampton reduced to the occasional counter-attack. As the Gold’s searched for an equaliser, the referee judged that a Heath player handled in the box and awarded Littlehampton a penalty, to the fury of the Heath players who saw the incident. The game paused for a considerable amount of time as the referee and linesman held several conferences to decide which player they had seen commit the offence before deciding to show George McCarthy the red card.
It would be easy to speculate that this kind of offence is exactly what the “double jeopardy” rule was put in place for as the sending off completely changed the momentum of the game as well as giving the Golds a route back in.
The penalty was calmly dispatched by Scott Faber after the hold up in play.
Heath made adjustments and played with a narrow three in midfield with Collins proving a willing runner in behind and Owezu working hard to hold the ball up. It took just 3 minutes for Heath to regain the lead as Luca Valentine’s rocket of a shot from the edge of the box flew into the net via a slight deflection.
The referee brought an eventful half to a close and Lovett and his management team had 15 mins to reorganise their 10 men.
Second half saw Owesu sitting deeper to help link up play with TC remaining on the last man to provide a threat going forward. It was another bright start from the Heath and Collins was set away by a great pass from midfield, the striker being denied on this occasion by a fantastic save by Binfield in the Littlehampton goal. Soon after this the striker was again set away 1v1 and this time opted to go around the keeper, unfortunately a heavy touch meant he was unable to finish.
Littlehampton seemed to grow back into the game after these two chances were spurned and in the 74th minute Heath were undone by a direct ball into the channel which was smashed into the net by Lucas Pattenden with an excellent strike.
Just 8 minutes later Heath’s worst fears came true as Devon Fender was on hand to finish a cut back from close range giving Littlehampton the lead.
A disappointing afternoon for the Heath, although they were the better side for large periods. The 10 men worked incredibly hard to get a result, and if the chances created are taken, a different result could well have been achieved.