A recent run of six wins and two draws had seen Roade take pole position during December. However, having played two more games than Blisworth, they were still in need of points on the board to keep the pressure on the chasing pack. It was the visitors, in their aquamarine change kit, who had the first effort of the game when Richie Collier struck an effort wide of mark. That was countered by an immediate break from the hosts, who also shot wide, as the sides tested each other out in the opening encounters.
Roade should probably have taken the lead after 12 minutes when the normally reliable Lewis was on the end of a left wing cross but prodded the ball just wide of Jamie Cox's left-hand post. Cox was then called into action a minute later, diving to his left to push Mark Faulkner's strike around the post.
Roade were starting to exert a fair bit of pressure on Heyford now and came even closer to scoring on 18 minutes when only an acrobatic scissor kick off the line from Peter Alonge prevented the visitors from going in front.
The one way that Heyford seemed to be able to threaten Roade was through a long ball and quick counter-attack. This almost came to fruition on the 20 minute mark when Eno Macroy latched onto a through ball that caught the Roade defence napping. Only the quick reactions of Ryan Nutt, sprinting off his line to smother the chance, stopped the home side from going in front against the run of play.
A goal up and looking to be in control, the visitors looked comfortable on the ball and hungry to put this one to bed. However, they still looked a little vulnerable to the long ball and, with nine minutes to go before the break, were almost caught out again. Once more it was Eno Macroy who got in behind the defence but, as he tried to round Nutt, the striker lost his footing giving goalkeeper just enough time to grab the ball at his feet. At half-time, I heard one of the Heyford officials comment that he had blamed the fact he was wearing moulded boots. A strange choice on a heavy pitch.
Four minutes after this incident, Roade made their hosts pay the price by doubling their advantage. A cross from the right was perfect for Dale Lewis who took a touch to open up the angle before slotting past Cox for his second of the game. 0-2.
Heyford needed a goal back before half-time if they were going to get back into this one. They did get an opportunity a minute into added time when they were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the box. Alonge smashed his effort into the defensive wall before driving the rebound, left-footed, over the bar. The chance was gone.
HT Heyford Athletic 0 Roade 2. The visitors looked a yard quicker in most areas of the pitch and fully deserved to go in ahead. However, Heyford had clearly identified the counter-attack and direct approach as something of a Roade weakness. If they could exploit this early in the second half, it could get interesting.
The game continued in pretty much the same pattern as the first half. Roade dominating possession and Heyford looking to hit them on the break, although the visitors seemed to have learned from the first period and didn't look quite as vulnerable now. Heyford did manage to get Reace Hill into a shooting possession just before the hour. His shot went wide of the goal, but it was a much more promising passage of play from Athletic. It was a the start of a five minute period that could, but didn't, change the game. First of all Andy Seaton headed a half-chance over for Roade only for Heyford to counter swiftly down their right. The ball was then fed into substitute Jamal Said who had a clear view of goal. The striker seemed to dally on the ball a little, allowing the defence and goalkeeper to recover their ground. Said ended up in a heap amidst claims for a penalty. It was impossible to see exactly what happened from the opposite end of the pitch, but the home team were convinced it was a foul. Nothing doing from the referee, however. In fact, he issued a yellow to Said either for simulation or for comments made, hard to say which.
Whatever the case, Roade were taking no notice. They went straight down the other end and almost made it three. Lewis turned provider this time, getting a flick onto a ball through the middle, putting the ball into the path of Seaton, who fired narrowly wide under pressure from a defender. Collier then put a shot just over as the visitors pressed to seal the there points.
With just over fifteen minutes remaining, Jonathon Joyce crashed a free-kick against Cox's right-hand post before the ball rebounded back off the keeper for a corner. That was taken by substitute George Wingrove who curled the ball in towards the far post. The wind seemed to hold it up, deceiving everyone including Jamie Cox, before dropping into the far corner of the net. 0-3
It was all Roade again now. The victory was sealed but they wanted more goals. Wingrove, egged on by a vociferous travelling support, tried to replicate his corner-kick goal twice more, and Cox saved well from captain Harry Mundy. However, there was no more scoring before the referee drew a close to the game.
FT Heyford Athletic 0 Roade 3. A great, all-round display from the league leaders, who now take a three point gap into the new year, having now played three more than second-placed Blisworth. Heyford remain in third, two points ahead of Earls Barton but having also played three more games.
Both teams are back in action next Saturday. Heyford are back at home as they welcome fourth from bottom Higham Town. wo Leo Murton goals gave Heyford a 21 win in the reverse fixture, despite having Bien Kayij sent off. Roade travel to 11th placed Medbourne who they beat 4-0 on the opening day.
Heyford Athletic: 1.Cox, 16.Wilkinson, 3.Hill, 2.Adreniran, 9.Kayij(c), 4.Alonge, 17.Methuh, 14.Belfon, 10.Okoye, 15.Mohamed, 12.Macroy. Subs: 13.Healy, 6.Reynolds, 7.Said, 8.Gomes, 15.Martin
Roade: 1.Nutt, 2.Lawton, 3.Joyce, 4.Mundy(c), 5.Jackson, 6.Salmon, 7.Faulkner, 8.Collier, 9.Lewis, 10.Watson, 11.Seaton. Subs: 12.Sears, 14.Osbourne, 15.Daniels, 16.Wingrove, 17.Tompkins
Heyford Athletic have played at their current home, just off Middle Street, since moving from the village green site in 1988. The ground, on the Eastern edge of Nether Heyford vilage, is part of a multi-sport facility that also plays host to cricket, bowls and tennis. There are, effectively, two car parks, one behind the clubhouse and changing rooms and the second one adjacent to the bowls club. Both are accessed via a narrow service road off Middle Street. The playing surface is flat and, although a bit on the wet side from recent rainfall, looked to be in good condition for the time of year. There's no spectator cover around the ground and it is quite open to the elements, especially behind the clubhouse end goal, which backs onto the cricket pitch, and then to a view over the Northamptonshire countryside. The dugouts are on the opposite side to the car park and are backed by trees, offering some protection from the weather.
Ground Number: 393