THE COMEBACK KINGS
Heddon’s final pre-season friendly saw them play host to Ryton, in a game that epitomised the old footballing cliché of a game of two halves.
Heddon started with the 4-3-3 formation which has been a mainstay of pre-season, with a few changes in personnel. Making their first appearances of the year were Andy Appleby, Mark Richardson and Dan Fleming, who all started. A familiar defensive and midfield line were complemented by an unorthodox ‘Triple R’ forward three of Ramshaw, Richardson and er Richy (basically the Tesco Value equivalent of Messi-Suarez-Neymar)!
The start of the game was an attritional affair with both teams eager to try to stamp their authority on the game. Heddon looked to play from the back, which has been a feature throughout the past month, occasionally dicing with danger with the lively Ryton attack. A quarter of the way into the game, came the first controversial moment. A looping cross found its way to Dan Ramshaw, who cut inside onto his left foot, with the Ryton keeper parrying his shot into the path of Richy Harrison. Richy’s rebound looked to have crossed the line however no goal was given. Immediately Ryton broke with the ball finding its way to their suspiciously offside-looking striker, who slotted the ball past Gary in the Heddon net. What followed was 15 minutes of madness on Heddon’s part. Appaz’s free kick from the halfway line was headed away by a Ryton defender and launched upfield to their striker - somehow in acres of space, to run through unchallenged to make it 2-0. A third goal quickly followed, albeit with elements of good fortune for Ryton. Ballaz tackled the Ryton midfielder with the ball bouncing off his knee and putting him through to make it three. Finally Heddon began to wake up, possibly as the hangovers of certain players had begun to be sweat out by this point! Four corners in quick succession almost led to four goals, with Ballaz and Scoob being denied from last ditch defending and deflections. Just when it was looking to be a bad day at the office, yet another corner was headed in by Ross to make it 3-1 on the stroke of half time.
After some choice words by Dave Green at half time, Heddon started the second half with renewed vigour and purpose. Playing with far more confidence on the ball, Heddon gradually began to break their opponents down, causing them to make mistakes. Richie went close with a turn and volley which was well saved by the keeper, while set pieces were causing havoc in the Ryton defence. Despite the pressure, Ryton were still causing problems on the counter, Dave producing a smart save to deny a one-on-one opportunity. Heddon were rewarded with a second goal soon after, Appaz striking an excellent free-kick from 30 yards clipping the far post before nestling in the back of the net. Two became three, when another Appaz free-kick found Ballaz who directed his header into the roof of the net. With Ryton tiring, Heddon went in for the kill, almost literally in Phil Edmondson’s case, as he almost kneecapped the Ryton keeper, when challenging for a 50-50! A tough tackle but unintentional, hopefully the Ryton keeper is ok! From the resulting corner Frankie curled one in directly over the sub keeper to put Heddon in the lead. Soon after, Frankie hit the bar from another free-kick and Dan Ramshaw should have scored late on, seeing his header go wide of the far post. The rest of the game passed without much incident, with some the old guard getting a run out to see the time out.
In summary, not the best performance, but a win nonetheless, showcasing the heart and winning mentality within the team. Ryton are in our league this season, so the importance of putting down a marker cannot be underestimated.