Vanarama Conference North

AFC Fylde 

Rowe (36), Potts (56), Allen (75)

Hednesford Town

Peers (45)

(1) 3

(1) 1



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Tom Peers


Stockport County (H) 6.9.14

Hednesford mini-revival of three unbeaten games came to a shuddering halt this afternoon at Kellamergh Park, as newly-promoted AFC Fylde ruthlessly exposed the Pitmen with a dominant second-half display against a side that looked exactly what they were - a patched-up side with a number of half-fit players and personnel playing out of position

Having seen centre back Paul McCone ruled out of today's game after suffering an injury against Solihull Moors on Monday, Rob Smith was left with very few options to pick from with his threadbare squad. James Hurst was passed fit to finally make his debut after missing most of pre-season injured, playing at right-back rather than in a midfield role. This saw Jamie Ashmore pushed into a totally different role for him, playing wide on the left wing after making two starts as right-back for the club. Tom Peers was pushed into a more advanced role after scoring on his full debut against Solihull, playing alongside Danny Glover. Midweek signing Malcolm Melvin was named amongst the substitutes after joining the club, with the retired Dave MacPherson again agreeing to help the club out to make up the five substitutes

Fylde, in much the same way the Pitmen had done twelve months earlier, had made a confident start to life at step two level, with manager Dave Challinor once again benefiting from the club's generous financial backers to bring in names that would establish the Lancashire side at Conference North level in the same form as the likes of Brackley Town and North Ferriby United. Big wins over Brackley on the opening day and Colwyn Bay on Monday pushed Fylde into the top ten, level on points with the visitors ahead of play

It was one of Fylde's 'old guard' who went close to opening the scoring in the fourth minute, as a cross from Mike Barnes was turned wide by Fylde's top scorer Danny Rowe, firing beyond Dan Crane's post and out for a goal kick

Fylde set their stall out from the off, playing with plenty of pace and width in an attempt to stretch debutant Hurst and the barely-fit Darren Campion on the left-hand side. Fylde full-backs Caspar Hughes and Adam Sumner were given plenty of time and space from a hesitant Hednesford back line to take the ball deep into opposition territory and set up attacks

The Pitmen were looking a threat themselves however on the counter-attack, with Peers once again looking sharp and lively with his pace and nuisance value. He and Glover both had chances to force a loose ball home on fifteen minutes, but a combination of tight defending and an intervention from Fylde keeper Ben Hinchcliffe saw the danger off for the hosts

Allen was wasteful once more midway through the first half, dragging his shot horribly wide of goal with an angled drive from the corner of the penalty area

The hardworking Glover turned a shot wide of goal three minutes later before Alex Melbourne lifted a shot high over the crossbar from an excellent position on the edge of the penalty area on twenty-eight minutes

For the second Saturday in succession, main man Jamey Osborne appeared off the pace of the game in the first period, as Fylde's wide counter-attacking style bypassed Osborne and fellow midfielder Kris Taylor as they both struggled to get a foothold in the game

Fylde stole into the lead with eight minutes of the first half remaining through one of their costly summer signings; another great cross from Barnes out on the Fylde right-hand side found the head of Danny Rowe, with the former Macclesfield striker glancing a header beyond the outstretched palms of Crane at the far post to score his first goal of the season

Looking to take advantage of the Pitmen's nervous state, Fylde nearly went into the half time break two goals to the good as Liam Tomsett fired wide of goal after a neat interchange of passing involving Allen, Michael Potts and Barnes had opened up the visiting defence

Instead, it was the Pitmen who managed to claw their way back into contention with virtually the last kick of the half through loan star Peers. After forcing Hinchcliffe into a fine save to concede a corner kick, Peers found himself all alone in the penalty area as Francino Francis recycled Taylor's corner kick by finding the teenager at the far post. Peers scuffed his shot into the ground but managed to get enough on it to bounce over the dive of Hinchcliffe and find the bottom far corner of the net. Not pretty to watch, but pretty effective in it's application

The Pitmen will have felt reasonably happy with their first-half contribution in light of their injury woes, but could not replicate the same spirit in a poor second-half display that saw Fylde dominate proceedings as the clouds rolled in over the Fylde coast

It was full-back Sumner who fired the first warning shot for the hosts on fifty-three minutes, driving narrowly over the crossbar from long range after making another move forwards

The Pitmen failed to heed the warnings and allowed Fylde to continue their push forwards. On fifty-six minutes, a move down the left involving Rowe and Allen saw Potts played in on goal, with the former Guiseley midfielder slotting under the despairing dive of Crane to put Fylde back into the lead

This triggered activity on the Hednesford bench, with Smith choosing to make a double substitution in an effort to get back into the game once more. Forward Dominic Dell came on in place of the out-of-sorts Ashmore whilst Melvin made his debut in place of Taylor in midfield

A brief moment fo inspiration form Osborne on sixty-four minutes briefly threatened to open up the Fylde defence, as the playmaker danced past three challenges before being brought down on the edge of the penalty area. Campion took the responsibility from the free-kick but disappointingly fired straight into the Fylde wall

The lively Allen forced Crane into a smart double save on sixty-seven minutes, making the Hednesford keeper work hard to keep the scoreline respectable for the Pitmen by turning his shot over the crossbar. From the resultant corner, Potts again got to the ball first and volleyed just over the woodwork

The heavens opened over the ground with twenty minutes remaining, leaving the pitch slippy and heavy underfoot for the remainder of the game. Peers was replaced by the physical presence of Marin Robinson with sixteen minutes left as Smith made his final change of the afternoon

It mattered little though, as Fylde settled the game as a contest a minute later as Osborne's miserable afternoon got worse with a misplaced backpass to Bailey that was seized upon by Allen. With the Hednesford defence struggling to make up the yards, Fylde's man of the match took the ball around the horribly exposed Crane and tapped home

Two minutes later, Potts went close to adding further insult to injury for the Pitmen as Allen raced onto another through ball and turned his shot goalwards. On this occasion, however, a combination of Crane and Bailey managed to scramble the ball away

Potts was also unlucky not to add to his, and Fylde's, tally for the afternoon with ten minutes left as he turned an Allen cross onto Crane's post from close range

The excellent Hughes had been a constant issue for Ashmore and Campion all afternoon, offering an outlet down the Fylde left at every opportunity. Another marauding run late on in the game saw him try his luck with a long-range drive that came back off the crossbar and into Crane's arms via a header from Allen

Beaten by a better, more organised and confident outfit, the Pitmen trudged off to generous applause from their supporters who will no doubt be praying for some good news in the next seven days with regards the current injury situation. Improving Stockport make the journey to Keys Park next week in another challenging game, with Smith hoping he won't have to resort to more square-pegs-in-round-holes tactics to simply get eleven players on the pitch

AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hughes, Sumner, Langley, Hannigan, B. Barnes, Tomsett, Potts (Hankin 84), Rowe, M. Barnes (Lloyd 80), Allen      Subs Unused: Booth, Charles, Dootson

Hednesford Town: Crane, Ashmore (Dell 58), Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, Taylor (Malcolm 58), Osborne, Melbourne, Glover, Hurst, Peers (Robinson 74)      Subs not used: MacPherson, Price

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