Albion travelled to Heaton Stannington aiming to use the win against Washington as a springboard to end a run of six straight defeats on the road. John Wilson chose the same starting XI, but David Backhouse, recovered from injury, was on the bench.
While it was the visitors who had the lion’s share of play in the opening minutes, the first real chance fell to Heaton’s No9 Gary Yates but he could only direct his shot straight at Albion’s keeper Steven Mundy. Ryton had to wait until the 15th minute for their first clear opportunity when Phil Hodges crossed to Dan Robinson deep inside the Stan’s box, but he headed the ball downover & the ball bounced up & spun just wide of the Heaton post. Just a minute later, Albion had the ball in the Heaton net when Will Forsyth struck a shot which Stan keeper Daniel Rule made a complete meal of by juggling the ball like it was a hot potato. Robinson nipped in to dispossess him & slotted the ball into the empty net, but referee Ian Freeland deemed the Ryton man had fouled Rule & the goal was chalked off.
There were hair-raising moments for both defences around the 20 minute mark when firstly Heaton’s Richard Hoggins got behind the Albion defence & drilled in a low dangerous cross from the by-line. Yates slid in to try to make the minimal contact needed to score but had mis-timed his slide by a fraction of a second & it was he & not the ball that ended up in the goal. However the danger wasn’t over as Mundy, probably expecting Yates to have intercepted, also missed the ball completely, as did everyone else in the firing line & it ran out to safety. Oddly enough within a minute there was a near carbon copy incident at the other end when after a neat forward move by The Albion, Leigh Shickle fired in a low piledriver of a cross, but again the ball managed to evade everyone’s attempt to get a touch on it & this time to Heaton’s relief it zipped across the box & out of harm’s way.
There was a moment of some controversy on 24 minutes when Mundy raced out of his box to dispossess a marauding Stan forward, but Mr Freeland thought Mundy had taken more of the man than the ball & awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box, booking Mundy in the process to howls of protest from the RACA players & fans who were close to the incident. Hoggins took the free kick which Mundy could only parry into the path of Ryan Bailey whose first time shot was cleared off the line.
Albion’s reprieve was short lived however as following a quick break forward, an exposed Mundy had to charge out to block a shot, but he didn’t get quite enough of his body on it, the ball spinning to HOGGINS’ feet & the Heaton man had the simple task of tapping the ball into an empty net on 27 minutes.
Albion fought back in an end to end affair on a heavy pitch & Forsyth grazed Rule’s bar on the half hour mark, but it was Heaton who had two gilt edged opportunities to increase their lead before half time. Firstly Gianpaolo Campania stormed down the right wing, delivering a perfect cross only to see the ball get dinked over the bar from all of a yard out. Then Yates hit the post on 43 minutes after receiving a fine cross from Lewis Burns, & the half time whistle was blown with the scoreline of-
HT HEATON STANNINGTON 1 RACA 0
The second half started quietly, the first chance falling to Yates who had a free header on 61 minutes, but like his effort at the start of the first half, he could only nod it straight at Mundy. Five minutes later & it was Rule who had to be on his toes when he raced out to meet a ball launched forward by Joshua Holland & with Ryton forwards bearing down on him, he cleverly nodded the ball to relative safety. Unfortunately for Rule he was soon picking the ball out of the net when a Forsyth cross was nodded by Robinson to Sam MOORE who added to last week’s hat-trick with another strike to level the scores. Albion’s tails were up & went close to getting
their noses in front when Moore knocked a ball forward which fell in the Stan box between Robinson & the last Heaton defender Robert Pearson. Both raced to the ball & crucially for the home side, Pearson just got his toe to the ball first & an almost certain Ryton goal was averted.
Despite Albion having more of the play, Heaton were still dangerous on the counter attack & re-took the lead on 80 minutes when substitute Kevin Carr crossed into a crowded box & HOGGINS was able to divert the ball past the sea of legs to make it 2-1.
Ryton weren’t to be denied however & three minutes later, Adam CHROSTOWSKI pumped a searching ball into the Heaton box from about 30 yards out that went over Rule’s outstretched arm & into the net. Whether it was meant as a shot or not, only Chrostowski knows, but it was a spectacular goal & the delight on the Albion defender’s face was evident to all nearby. With parity restored Albion pressed for a winner & Callum Turnbull had half a chance in stoppage time with a decent header from distance, but Rule was able to gather safely & the points were shared.
FT HEATON STANNINGTON 2 RACA 2
A hard fought point for Albion & probably a fair result, the most satisfying aspect being the end of the run of away defeats. Heaton’s dip in home form continues & have now won just once in their last eight games at Grounsell Park.
Two footnotes to mention, this was Albion’s 100th league & cup game since a 0-0 draw & this point plus Brandon’s defeat means we can’t even mathematically finish bottom now!
ALBION- Mundy, Stoddart (Upperton 81), Shickle, Hodges, Turnbull, Chrostowski, Holland, McMeekin (Backhouse 85), D Robinson, Moore (C Barker 89), Forsyth. Subs not used (Burnyeat, P Robinson)
HEATON STAN- Rule, Telford, Pearson, Ray, Wear, Bailey, Campania, L Johnson, Yates, Hoggins, Burns. Subs- A Johnson, Cairns, Carr, Lowson, Deagle
Referee- Ian Freeland
Attendance – 134