Disappointed Heathens missed key players in draw with Baldock Town

Photo by Glenn Alcock

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Without top scorer Fabian Driffill and captain Jamie Essex, Flackwell Heath were held at home by struggling Baldock Town on Saturday.

The result was a source of frustration for manager Chris Ayres who saw his side dominate the first half and take the lead through Jack Shakespeare’s well-taken finish.

But Baldock, under new management, showed some character to level matters through Hay’s back post header before half-time and they battened down the hatches to come away from Wilks Park with a point, aided by Callum Mapley’s sending off for two bookable offences.

“We had a couple of key players missing, Jamie Essex our captain who was still not quite fit enough to play and Fabian Driffill, our forward who has COVID, but I still felt we had enough about us to win.

“The first 30 minutes we could have been two or three goals up. We dominated the game, and we could have been out of sight. We scored a really good goal, but they managed to score with their only attack of the first half.

“Then in the second half we were slow to get going and they came into it a bit more.

“They have a new coach and there was a fresh impetus about them.

“Callum Mapley got sent off, harshly I thought, but it galvanised us a bit and it was actually our best spell.

“We missed two or three really good chances to win it at the end.

“We fought well but this league is tough compared to some of the equivalent leagues to ours where some of the teams at the bottom get beaten quite heavily. In this league it's very competitive. Look at Risborough getting beaten by Ardley, there are no easy games. You can't take any team for granted and have to be right on it every time.”

It wasn’t the response Ayres was looking for after last weekend’s narrow defeat to New Salamis but he was happy with the effort shown by his players and is hopeful both Driffill and Essex will be back to bolster his options ahead of Saturday’s home game with Arlesey Town. The match will see the club fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK, following chairman Terry Glynn’s successful recovery from the disease.

“The pitch isn't in a great condition after four home games on the trot through this period,” added Ayres. “It's our Prostate Cancer fundraising game against Arlesey and hopefully we can get a big crowd.

“Because of the pitch we may need to get it from back to front a bit quicker, but it is what it is, it's the same for everyone. We have a philosophy we're trying to bring in where we want the players to pass the ball, but the boys must adapt and find a way. We want to try and get as high as we can this season and then start brand new for next season.

“There’s still a lot to play for though.

“Arlesey got a good point at Leighton. They got a good point at Leighton. They look a real threat going forward. It will be a tough game and a tough challenge.

“Fabian will come back in, he’s over his COVID. Jamie hopefully will train this week with a view to coming back in. We’ve also got Jack Taylor back as well who’s been influential in our midfield. When you look at it, it’s our centre half, our centre midfielder and our centre forward so it’s a big chunk out of the team. The spine has definitely been impacted, but that’s football, you get injuries.”

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