Heddon’s victory leaves Hexham in danger zone
Published at 07:36, Wednesday, 26 March 2014
LOSING to a team in the bottom two for the second week running has dragged Hexham further into trouble at the foot of Division One.
Seven days on from losing 2-1 to bottom club Willington Quay Saints, a slender 1-0 loss to second bottom Heddon plundered them right back into the relegation battle.
Although Tyne Valley rivals Heddon have played four games extra, the strugglers went level on points with their hosts as the fight to beat the drop heats up.
Hexham will be confident of picking up the points required but they need to find some firepower, and quickly, to see it through.
Expected to pick up six points in their two games against the division’s strugglers, Hexham have dominated possession but lost by the odd goal on both occasions due to an inability to turn this into results.
They lacked a cutting edge against a Heddon side who are refusing to roll over and accept relegation, a recent upturn in results rekindling their faint hopes of staying in the division.
Despite their momentum, Heddon turned up in Hexham with just 10 men and they had to rely on the late arrival of striker Liam Warren to make sure they could field a full side.
With both sides feeling the tension of the importance of the fixture, the game was a scrappy one with neither managing to create many goal scoring opportunities.
The first half in particular was a non-event, a hopeful shout for a Heddon penalty the highlight in a 45 minute spell of nothingness.
Francis Storey had controlled a ball into the Hexham box with his head but claimed he was hauled down by Scott Robson who had merely stood his ground and prevented his counterpart running on to have a free shot on goal.
As the spectators eagerly awaited the shrill of the referee’s half time whistle, Warren’s cross-cum-shot from an angle hit the side netting.
It was the same player who came close to opening the scoring on the stroke of first half, firing a good shot away from 20 yards after racing onto Liam Hildrew’s free kick.
It had appeared that former Heddon goalkeeper Peter Holland had made a good stop to keep his new side’s clean sheet in order, but referee Asa McDonough awarded a goal kick.
The second half in itself was a pretty dull affair too but, in comparison to a first period which didn’t get going, it was a pleasure to watch as both sides managed to muster half chances.
Five minutes in, Hexham’s wing man Tom North danced through the Heddon bodies to create space to lay the ball to Liam Heenan, but his well-struck effort was parried out of danger by the visitors’ stand-in keeper Kevin Urwin.
From the corner, Stuart Brown’s delivery was flying towards goal before Urwin again interfered to prevent the ball sneaking over the line.
Most of the action was played out in the middle of the park, and Hexham’s Honduras-born Spaniard Marco Fleitas was part of a hard working midfield who tried to push the team forward.
However, they were up against the similarly determined Sam Redpath and Andrew Hall, who has just returned south of the Border after working away in Scotland for a few months, and the duo helped give Heddon the edge.
The away side’s main driving force was left midfielder Gary Hall, though, and his enthusiasm spilled over as the game started to turn niggly with 20 minutes remaining.
Moments after Brown karate kicked Storey in the chest as he challenged for a high ball, Gary Hall was cautioned for a nasty looking tackle which left Fleitas grounded.
He showed good discipline to put the incident behind him and help Heddon turn the pressure up as they looked to punish Hexham for a failure to make their possession count.
Storey played a piercing pass for Redpath to run onto and his effort seemed destined for the back of the net, only for Holland to pull off a remarkable save to keep the scores goalless.
At the other end, Scott Robson was pushed up front as Hexham went for it and he headed home North’s pin point cross only to see it ruled out for a clear push on marker Connor Ballantyne.
The game was heading for a stalemate until Heddon made the most of a breakaway to earn a crucial three points.
Crowded out, Redpath’s shot rebounded into the path of Storey and his low drive from outside of the area found the bottom corner as it was placed away from the diving Holland.
The goal boosted Heddon’s hopes of securing safety and heightened Hexham’s fears, while Bedlington Terriers Reserves’ shock win over Newcastle Chemfica was a further setback to both.
Published by http://www.hexhamcourant.co.uk