Heddon stretched their unbeaten run to three games with a well-deserved 5-2 away victory against Halfway House PYC.
Missing several players due to work, honeymoons and Jamie’s attempt to survive the Great North Run; Heddon lined up with an unfamiliar back four, with Ross dropping into centre half due to Scoob’s absence. Dave Green took up the mantle of goalkeeper in place of Waddsy.
Heddon started well, looking to play their short passing game on the 3G pitch, making the most of the width available. It was a surprise therefore, that the away side took the lead through the employment of more direct tactics. Elliot played a ball over the top of the Halfway House defence, which dropped between Dan Walker and the goalkeeper. The pressure from Dan caused the keeper to head the ball out, causing it to drop to the feet of Frankie who coolly lobbed it first time over the stricken keeper and into the back of the net. The goalscorer could’ve had his second minutes later, when after hotdogging a defender on the edge of the box, smashed his strike off the bar and over; incurring the wrath of Walker for a) not squaring it to him, and b) not tracking his man when the ball was back in play!
Down the other end of the pitch, Heddon looked comfortable, save for the odd long ball punted over the top. Despite the wingers on both sides being tricky and quick, Halfway House were unable to create any chance of note, the closest they came to scoring being a free header across goal, from a set piece. Heddon’s pressure off the ball was the best it had been all season, their willingness to close everything down rewarded with a second goal after Elliot had robbed the ball off an opposition player and smartly finished from the edge of the area for his third goal in three games.
Just as it looked as though Heddon would reach the break with a comfortable lead, Halfway House struck before half time. On the left, Phil contrived to defy the laws of physics by keeping the ball in play when booting it into Row Z might have been the better option. The loose ball fell to the opposition striker who struck a curling shot from outside the area. Diving to his right, Dave Matz Sels’d the ball into the path of the striker who tucked the rebound away.
The second half started in a similar way to the first, Heddon playing some pleasing football on the eye, with less emphasis on forcing play, while hounding the opposition players at every opportunity. This patience was rewarded early in the half, Walker turning his defender inside and out before firing into the corner of the net. Three almost became four soon after, with Sean narrowly chipping wide when seeing the keeper off his line.
Disappointingly, Heddon then contrived to let Halfway House back into the game again, a cross from the left, dropping to an untracked midfielder who had ages to pick his spot and make it 3-2. Happily, Heddon didn’t allow their heads to drop after this setback, although Walker was booked by the referee for too many comments in his direction. Although, in fairness, asking for a foul throw is hardly the most offensive thing to be said on a football pitch! Heddon quickly made amends for the defensive hiccough, man of the match Joe Slade running the whole length of the pitch to slide in Richy’s cross after starting the initial move from just outside the Heddon 18 yard box. The points were wrapped up minutes later, with Walker making it 5-2 from the penalty spot after Richy had been tripped.
This gave licence to make changes, with Neil coming on to make his first league appearance of the season. Joe O’Donnell, a wanted man in Prudhoe after his infamous linesman performance and subsequent hilarious letter of apology, also made his bow, with his main contribution being an eardrum-shattering complaint to the referee after not getting a corner.
5-2 was how it ended though, lifting the team into 3rd place in the league. This was without doubt the best performance of the season so far and proves that we are a force to be reckoned with in this division. With so many first choice players missing, it highlights the current squad depth in almost every position on the pitch.