Heanor Town FC – one win in the Midland Football League since August Bank Holiday Monday.
This looks bleak. It isn’t. Dropping out the FA Vase and FA Cup early doors has left Heanor with a few blank Saturday afternoons already this season.
In reality, since the victory against Long Eaton on 28th August, Heanor have played against both Ilkeston Town and Nuneaton Griff in the League Cup with nine scored and zero conceded.
Heanor have also played some tough sides in the league – Coventry Sphinx, Coleshill, Bromsgrove Sporting and bogey side AFC Wulfrunians – one point from those 12 is disappointing, but not unexpected against tough, physical and determined sides such as those listed.
Today they travelled to face Lye Town, another bogey side!
Lye Town FC – formed in 1930 as Lye & Wollescote FC, are based in a suburb of Stourbridge.
Lye have been based at The Sports Ground since their formation. If you look closely enough, you can see that very little improvement has been made to the facility since…
It does bring a rustic charm to the place. A crumbling stand, a tall bank behind one of the goals and a stand behind the other that has a curved roof.
I love my visits to Lye Town. Today wasn’t any different.
We left The Town Ground at just after 1pm. One of the Heanor supporters has a minibus and is quite willing to transport the faithful following around the Midlands for a small contribution towards petrol, it makes trips to places such as Lye a much easier option.
We arrived with plenty of time to spare, enough time to go to the ‘grass bank’ I mentioned earlier ready to watch the game. Stood with Luke Thorpe, Heanor Town FC camera man and great friend, I knew that I’d be in good company.
If I said there wasn’t a lot of football played, you’d probably think I was edging towards negativity again. I am not. The first ten minutes consisted of Heanor pressure, frustratingly nobody seemed to be within five yards of the balls that were being crossed in to the box. A change of style was needed, and blimey did it work!
Lye Town had their only shot on target around twenty minutes in – their busy midfield playmaker (forgive me, I don’t do team sheets!) with a shot that curled towards the bottom corner. Wayne White tipped it round the post at full stretch. White is the latest in a long line of goalkeepers to represent the club this season for various reasons – whenever I’ve seen him play I’ve always been impressed and personally, I hope he sticks around for a long time as the club have made a great signing there.
Speaking of goalkeepers. Lye Town have signed a lunatic. Mind you, the whole of the back four in front of him joined the chorus of ‘Lino, Lino’ every time a ball looked to trouble them. The goalkeeper is arguably the angriest player I’ve ever seen at Step Five.
His frustrations didn’t ease when Heanor took the lead. Spoiler alert – it was the goalkeepers fault.
Elliott Reeves has been a man in inspired form for Heanor this season. Last season was a good start to his Heanor Town FC senior team career, this season he has pushed on. It won’t be long before he is on a contract, either at Heanor or elsewhere.
Reeves has had to change from being a wide forward, to being a traditional number nine. The injury to central striker Jamie Sleigh left a shirt to fill and the on-looking Sleigh will be under no doubt he will have to fight for his place back in the team. For the first time in a few years, the competition at Heanor for a place in the team is fierce, but the lads seem to have a great team spirit that is urging them on. That said, Heanor had centre-half Adam Robley at right-back today and Myles Scott who hasn’t played for around a month at left-back. Two defensive changes and still looking strong.
Back to the goal. I couldn’t give you a spoiler alert and then tell you immediately what had happened, could I?
Reeves chased a ball down the channels, outmuscled the centre half and when the goalkeeper didn’t get a clean connection with his hands, Reeves stabbed home in to an empty net. I’m being polite about the goalkeeping, the potty-mouthed shot stopper fumbled the ball as though someone had greased his gloves with goose fat. He soon shut up after that.
Half time came and went. Now, as I said, Lye Town have been a bogey side of Heanor Town and with The Lions deserving to be ahead by more than one goal but it not materialising, the wonder at half time was about what may happen in the second half.
The change of tact from Heanor was that the ball was played beyond the defence, not over their heads, but on the floor. It worked and worked very well.
Reeves should have had a second. Myles Scott pushed on from left back, using his right foot to glide past the opposition right-back. Scott’s cross in to the box found Reeves who fired at goal, I’ll admit, I celebrated the goal…. but it hadn’t gone in. The ball hit the post, completely wrong footed the whole Lye Town defence and Scott smashed home from about a yard. I celebrated again!
That was it. A bit of huffing and puffing during the last ten minutes as The Lions made sure of the victory, adding an excellent clean sheet away from home to the list of things to celebrate after this encounter. I will be clear, at times today it wasn’t pretty but Heanor Town FC have a number of very young players that were not intimidated or outplayed by an experienced Lye Town side that know how to dictate and control their games.
The trip back on the minibus was an interesting one to say the least. Lee Mallon, who is better known as Lenny The Lion (Heanor mascot) had eaten something that didn’t seem to agree with him. Stuck on the A38 with a bloke who dresses up as a lion, putting up with him farting every five miles or so. Not an experience I wish to repeat any time soon!