Sevenoaks welcome Haywards Heath to Greatness Park this week and were in for a tough game due to an impressive run of form from the visitors. Sevenoaks were determined to come out as the victors in this FA Vase game after showing a recent lack of quality in the league. Coming out wearing sponsored warm-up tops supporting Breast Cancer Care as a fundraiser, Sevenoaks looked in very good spirits.
The game started and Sevenoaks started playing some sublime football, Haywards Heath did not know what was in the Oaks locker and on the two minute mark, Sevenoaks scored. Martin Debrah found space in the box and squared the ball across to Michael Fahm who tapped the ball in. Just the start the Oaks wanted in their campaign.
Sevenoaks were flying- the early goal lifted the home side and encouraged the team to be first to every ball, not letting the visitors play their game. Austin Gacheru cut out a cross-field attempt and fired the ball in to the corner to increase the lead to 2-0 after only seven minutes.
The game settled as resilient Haywards Heath worked hard to even the game out, yet still showing no real signs of being in it. Sevenoaks had a quiet half hour but still were in control-and in the 43rd minute Ross Ibertson showed some immense skill outside off the box to throw the defenders askew and launched home a fantastic goal that had both benches clapping. 3-0 to Oaks at half time, and progression through to the next round seemed imminent…
Perhaps the Oaks had burnt themselves out? Perhaps they became brash to their lead? Whatever the reason the Oaks did not come out the dressing room for the second half. From the off, Haywards Heaths’ faults in the first half flipped for the second- they started to dominate the play and bossed the Sevenoaks both on and off the ball. With 52 played, Haywards Heath drove in a goal from a corner, dropping the heads of the Sevenoaks players, so much so that it was only two minutes later that the visitors got another… 3-2.
An hour played and the game seemed to be 11 v 1 as Heath had attack after attack on keeper Stroud, continuing until the 85th minute where Heath headed in the equaliser. Devastating for the Sevenoaks fans. On the 90th minute Heath looked to be through as an overhead kick just cleared the bar, thankfully the ref blew for full-time. A chance for Sevenoaks to pause and improve as extra time was to be played.
The game seemed lost after Heath scored their first in their comeback, the Oaks looked tired and heads were gone and the visitors continued to bash the Sevenoaks team. They took the lead for the first time in the game however the linesman had flagged for offside. Perhaps finally waking the Sevenoaks players up that the game was there to be won or lost- they began to press but showed no signs of their first half flare. 108 minutes played and the dreaded moment came after a headed pass across the box saw the ball fall at a Haywards Heath players feet and he slotted the ball past Stroud and ignited their celebrations.