Top of the table Tad Triumph again
Tadcaster Albion were made to work incredibly hard for the three points on Saturday against Heanor Town but they defended well for large parts of the game and hit their opponents on the break to win comfortably and go seven points clear at the top.
It was an intriguing fixture in the NCEL Premier Division with top of the table Tadcaster Albion taking on fourth place Heanor Town. Before today Heanor were only eight points behind Albion with a game in hand so a win for the visitors would see them right back in the title race. Tadcaster on the other hand were going into the match on the back of only their third loss of the season away at Cleethorpes Town so they had extra incentive to get the victory and get them back on track.
It was a lovely fresh blue sky (but bitter) day in Tadcaster and the football started off very scrappy with some hefty tackles flying in, the referee and his whistle were the standouts in the opening minutes. The visitors were looking a threat on the counter and they almost took the lead in the 12th minute as last season’s NCEL top scorer Kieran Debrouwer was found in behind the Tad back line but a terrific block by Matt Sparkes lead to a mass goalmouth scramble with most of the supporters and most of the players having no idea where the ball was, eventually it was grasped by Peter Laurie in the Albion goal.
Sparkes up the other end headed over for Tad but it never looked like threatening the target, the home side were struggling to get going. Ten minutes later and Heanor came even closer to breaking the deadlock as Gary Ricketts sprayed it out to the right to find Debrouwer who ran with it, worked it onto his wand of a left foot and curled one from the edge of the area and it cannoned off the face of the crossbar and out.
Four minutes until the break and Tadcaster took the lead against the run of play. Just after Carl Stewart was denied by a super block by Shaw, Callum Ward opened the scoring as he turned the ball under Ian Deakin from close range.
Half-Time: Tadcaster Albion 1-0 Heanor Town
The Tad faithful were in full voice for the whole match, especially behind the goal to the left and my personal favourite was “Your kits from Jacamo” make of that what you wish. I just want to compliment the away following too of Heanor who brought a good amount of fans up to Yorkshire and were also in good voice throughout the day.
Just as it was last week at Harrogate Railway the second half immediately started much more open than the first which was exciting to see and the next goal in the contest was a huge one.
Heanor were not relenting and you got the feeling that it was surely only a matter of time before they find the back of the net themselves and on 57 minutes they should have busted the net. A cross from the left rolled right through to the full-back Greg Marriott who struck well but was met by a terrific point blank save by Peter Lawrie in the Albion goal.
It was a more open encounter but the feistiness had not died down in the slightest as card after card was brandished with some nasty looking challenges being made.
Debrouwer looked like the player that had that bit of star quality to score a goal from nothing for Heanor but mid-way through the second half his free-kick was well held.
Heanor’s top scorer this season Gary Ricketts (15 goals) was the next man to spurn two half chances. Firstly he diverted just over the bar from inside the box as he was falling and secondly he just couldn’t stretch enough to head on target. They had their best chance to equalise shortly after as Marriott pulled it back to Debrouwer whose lovely drag back gave him the space on the edge of the area to get his shot off but fortunately for the home fans watching on he blasted way over the bar.
You got the feeling that this was the best chance for Heanor and a matter of seconds later they were made to pay as Tadcaster doubled their lead. It was against the run of play again but you know what they say, it is a sign of a good team when you win but don’t play well and this is what top of the table Tadcaster did. Josh Greening picked up the ball in the centre circle and played a lovely disguised through ball to set Carl Stewart away and he coolly stroked the ball into the back of the net as ‘Tad All Over’ bellows around the i2i Stadium.
Albion secured the three points with a third goal in the dying stages of the match to make it a hard reading for the visitors especially when they played as well as they did. Chris Shaw’s header back towards his goalkeeper was pounced upon by Josh Greening who rounded Deakin and tapped in to top off a delightful victory.
Full-Time: Tadcaster Albion 3-0 Heanor Town
Both sides had the chances, Tadcaster took them, that’s why they are top of the league.
Report & pictures by Jay Taylor