SWIFTS paid the price for missing a penalty and a sitter in a game they should have won against league leaders Dereham.
Juan Luque missed an open goal which would have put the hosts 2-1 up and Sam Bantick saw a spot-kick saved which would have made it 2-2 against the visitors from Norfolk, who went five points clear in the Bostik North.
Heybridge boss Jody Brown – whose side still have a staggering ten games in hand on some rivals – was left to rue the wasted gilt-edged chances against a side he rates as the “bench mark” in the fiercely competitive division.
He said: “We started very well, passing and controlling the tempo, but defensively we must tighten up a bit, and I think it’s mainly to do with intensity.
“We are a little too comfortable and a little too relaxed at the moment.
“We asked many, many questions of Dereham and our goal was another wonderful team goal.
“Luque’s miss from a few yards out with no goalkeeper wasn’t comfortable viewing, and Sam’s missed penalty wasn’t great either.
“When we reflect we’ll look back on some sloppy defending but also a fairly strong performance against a side five points clear at top. And I don’t think I’m alone in believing we should have won the game.
“That is the second time I’ve seen Dereham this season and I would suggest they are a decent side with good balance, and in Rhys Logan they have a player that can win them games – he is a difference maker.
“They’ve made a great start to the season and they are the bench mark.”
The visitors, with a young and pacy side, got off to a great start and were ahead after six minutes when winger Logan’s great run and cross was blasted home by striker Jamie Forshaw.
Swifts were level after an excellent four-man move ended with Harrison Chatting feeding Luke Callander to coolly slot past keeper Elliot Pride.
Ben Griffiths hit a 20-yarder just wide before Luque somehow managed to fire over from six yards when Bantick’s blocked shot fell kindly at his feet.
To add insult to injury, the visitors took the lead when Toby Hilliard fired into the roof of the net after Danny Sambridge had made a save from point-blank range, only for defenders to fail to clear the loose ball.
It was largely one-way traffic in the second half as the hosts pushed for an equaliser.
And they were awarded a penalty soon after the restart when Bantick was fouled on the edge of the area, but his resulting spot kick was comfortably saved by Pride and then scrambled away.
Brown brought on Ricky Sappleton, Joe Gardner and Kreshnic Krasniqi, and Sappleton’s close-range header went just over.
It left Heybridge 13th in the table but their cup heroics mean they still have a ten games in hand on leaders Dereham, who are 18 points better off.
Swifts are next in action at Billericay on Wednesday (November 22) in the Velocity Trophy, and they will face a Town side still smarting from last week’s televised FA Cup defeat against Leatherhead.