Heddon kept up their excellent recent league form, to gain revenge on Hexham Phoenix in an eventful game at Wentworth Leisure Centre.
Heddon came into the game full on confidence after a good win the previous week against Bardon Mill. The away side were also keen to gain redemption after their opening day defeat to Phoenix, the only time Heddon have lost in the league this term.
On an excellent and huge playing surface, the home side started better, with the front two causing problems and indecision within the Heddon back four. Despite having a one man advantage due to a Phoenix player running late, Heddon found it difficult to find rhythm to their play, however Woody and Dan Walker both came close to opening the scoring within the first ten minutes. Down the other end, Phoenix forced Bull into a couple of smart stops, with Heddon having to defend the resulting corners.
On 15 minutes, what proved to be one of the most defining points of the game occurred. From a cleared Heddon corner, a Phoenix midfielder brought the ball forward, and was brought down with a rugby tackle by Walker. A clear booking, but met with a nod of approval by the watching Rich Towart-Adams! Walker nearly made amends moments later when his free kick evaded everyone only to be acrobatically pushed over the bar by the keeper. Soon after came the second defining point of the game. Scoob rose highest to head a corner towards goal, the defender on the post for Phoenix used his hand to keep the ball out, and after much protest a penalty and red card was given. Walker stepped up and smashed the ball into the bottom left corner.
Heddon started the second half strongly, Richy coming close to making it 2-0, his cross-shot just going wide after he’d slalomed through the Phoenix defence. Heddon’s enterprising start to the second period got its reward five minutes later. Elliott expertly dribbled past two defenders before pulling the ball back to Sean who side footed it into the net. To their credit, Phoenix continued to press forward despite their numerical disadvantage, however Heddon looked far more solid at the back and limited their opponents to speculative efforts. On the break Heddon were still looking dangerous, Neil almost scoring after he replaced Richy.
Just when it looked as though Heddon were cruising to victory, Phoenix got back into the game. A misplaced pass from Woody fell to a Phoenix midfielder, the ball arriving at one of the strikers who thumped a low strike from 25 yards past Bull. In order to protect their lead, Heddon changed their shape, with Ramshaw going into a sweeper role and Phil replacing Sean to make a 3-5-2 formation. The task was made even more difficult ten minutes from time when Walker was sent off for a second booking after a late challenge on the Phoenix left back. Ultimately though, Heddon managed the storm without too many alarms and picked up an invaluable three points.
A good day was made even better with the news that Haltwhistle Jubilee had been held to a draw at Prudhoe Social, opening up the gap at the top of the table.
Overall, a very similar performance to last week. It was not pretty at times, but the graft and fight ensured that we got the three points. Next up is Monkseaton in the county cup.
Ratings supplied by Phil Edmondson.