First league defeat at Heanor Town
PICTURES BY MARTIN PULLEY
Midland Football League – Premier Division
Heanor Town 3 Rugby Town 2
Rugby suffered late heartache for the second time in three days, falling to their first MFL defeat in the process at Mayfield Avenue.
Heanor’s Jamie Sleigh completed his hat-trick two minutes before the end of normal time to secure his side the points after an eventful encounter which saw Valley end the game with ten men.
New signing Sam Belcher started in Town’s midfield, where there was also a recall for available-again Josh Thornton, with Aiden Print in for the injured Brad Harris in a rejigged Rugby back-line.
Valley started poorly though, and the hosts took advantage of this to open the scoring just past the quarter of an hour mark when Sleigh slotted in on the turn after good play out wide by Jevin Seaton.
Liam Holt’s ferocious free-kick from thirty yards smashed back off the crossbar as Rugby finally made their mark on the game, with Kyle Rowley also going close to an equaliser with a point blank header which was kept out by Lions’ keeper Oliver Cammidge.
At the other end, Shaun Roulston was looking a constant threat in the air from corners, with Niall Cooper doing well to tip one of a series of his headed efforts over the bar.
However the visitors were level six minutes before the break, when Jamie Hall’s intended cross sailed over Cammidge’s head and into the top corner of the net, with the final chance of the opening period seeing the home keeper comfortably gather James Dance’s curler from the edge of the box.
Mason Rowley headed one wide just after the restart as Valley started the new half brightly, and David Kolodynski was soon putting them ahead when he finished off Kyle Rowley’s knock-down to Josh Ruff’s corner.
Cammidge then tipped over a further effort by Kolodynski from twenty yards, before the hosts equalised after Oliver Naylor dispossessed Kyle Rowley in the penalty area to set up Sleigh for a trickling finish off the post.
Both sides pressed hard for a winner without either really creating a clear cut opportunity, and with a draw therefore looking the most likely result, Heanor struck the decisive blow on 88 minutes when Sleigh grabbed his treble with a more convincing connection this time.
In the immediate aftermath of the goal both Cooper and Hall were booked in their efforts to return the ball for a quick restart, meaning the latter received his second of the game in the process and therefore a red card too.
Town had one further chance of salvaging something, but Belcher fired over the bar in added-on time.