Heddon continued their 100% start to their league campaign with a battling, yet impressive performance against Ryton Social.
In a big build up to the top of the table clash, talk all week had centred on matching the Ryton’s player's effort levels as they would be bang up for it as they were on a roll at the start of the season. Adding to the drama, the non-arrival of the referee caused gaffer Dave Green to take up officiating duties for the first two minutes of the game (Dave’s unorthodox approach to refereeing including dispensing with the formalities of a coin toss and simply asking Ryton if they wanted to kick off!), before a spectating referee kindly offered to help out.
Playing the 4-3-3 formation that has served them well so far this season, a list of notable absentees including Connor Ballantyne, Richard Harrison, Mark Murtagh and Dan Walker meant that Alex Burnie started at centre half, leaving Sean Hownam leading the line, with Ciaran Porter on the left and Dan Ramshaw on the right, playing in his 37th different position this season!
The opening 10 minutes were a scrappy affair with both teams understandably eager to assert their dominance over each other. Heddon gradually began to grow into the game, playing through the midfield and spreading the play out wide to utilise the pace of their wingers (ahem!). The breakthrough occurred 20 minutes in, with Woody scoring the only type of goal that he is capable of, a 25 yard screamer on the half-volley that flew into the top corner! Heddon continued to build on this start with neat football, with Ryton struggling to breach the rock solid combination of Scoob and Burnie, and Waddsy sweeping up everything that was played over the top. A second goal arrived soon after, a shot by Sean was deflected into the air, Dan Ramshaw reacting first to head the ball down to Ross, who calmly curled it past the keeper.
The start of the second half followed the same pattern as the end of the first, with Heddon on the front foot causing Ryton problems, Dan Ramshaw coming close with a shot tipped wide by the Ryton keeper, and Sean Hownam continuing to put together his own ‘Miss of the Season’ competition by heading wide from point blank range! In all fairness though, Sean gave the Ryton centre halves a torrid time throughout and deserved a goal. Ryton came into the game more as the half developed, with concerted pressure on the Heddon defence through their arsenal of corners and long throw-ins, but at no stage did Heddon look like conceding. The icing on the cake came in the last minute. Sean’s free kick was parried by the Ryton keeper to the feet of Ross, on the edge of the box. Ross bent it superbly into the top corner over the players on the line to wrap up the victory.
Soon after, the final whistle blew, allowing Bull just enough time to make possibly the shortest appearance in Heddon St Andrews history (2 seconds?)! Another good win and performance, and just the right tonic to take into next week’s cup clash with Division one side Prudhoe Town. Everyone to a man put a shift in today and that is what is required all season.
Love it when we play like this, short of numbers, players literally on their feet at the end having worked as hard as they could and players playing out of position with every single player bringing something to the game. It's a testament to the team spirit we have and the winning mentalility that we are starting to gain. i could have picked any player for man of the match which says eveything.
Let's keep the run going!