Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

AFC Fylde

Dean (32)

Hednesford Town

Durrell (30), Rey (85)

(1) 1

(1) 2



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Darren Campion


AFC Fylde (H) 7.5.13

Despite clinching their sixth successive league win, Hednesford Town fall agonisingly short of clinching the league title this afternoon as North Ferriby United beat Ashton United to seal the Evo-Stik Premier League crown; the Pitmen, therefore, missed out on a first league title since 1995 by the small matter of goal difference after matching Ferriby's 93 points tally

The final day of the season saw the sun come out for the first time in a number of weeks, banishing the recent memories of the snow problems that blighted the league programme barely a month ago. With both sides having something to play for, the game was set up to be a thriller as the Pitmen hoped for a miracle at Ferriby, coupled with a win here against a Fylde team looking to finish as high up in the play-offs as possible

With this in mind, Hednesford manager Rob Smith named his strongest team at present, keeping faith in the same XI that had reeled off five wins in a row to put them joint top of the table ahead of today. Sean O'Connor returned to the substitute's bench after his brace in the Birmingham Senior Cup Final against Sutton Coldfield Town in midweek, with Kyle Patterson returning to parent club Nuneaton Town after his three-month loan spell expired

Another loanee, Kris Taylor, was first to fire a warning shot at Fylde for the Pitmen in the seventh minute, curling a free-kick just wide of goal after Jamey Osborne's mazy run was checked just outside the penalty area

The always-willing Michael Lennon carved out a chance for himself two minutes later, racing onto a through ball and turning towards goal. However, his scuffed shot was deflected away from goal by left-back Adam Carden

Despite this bright opening from the Pitmen, there was a lack of overall quality of football from both sides in the opening quarter of the game, as nervousness crept into the game in the form of misplaced passes and lack of urgency in midfield

Top scorer Elliott Durrell presented strikers Lennon and Neil Harvey with an ideal opportunity to open the scoring on nineteen minutes, darting down the right-wing and swinging in a superb cross that neither forward could get on the end of

An incisive move from Fylde saw them find the net with their first attack of the game on twenty-four minutes as Harry Winter fired into the far corner of the net, only to be denied by an earlier offside flag

News started to filter through amongst Hednesford supporters of a goal at Grange Lane, with Ferriby taking the lead through that man Ryan Kendall to put a massive dent in the Pitmen's title ambitions

However, the large travelling contingent was given renewed hope of a large charge to the title through Durrell on the half-hour mark; a clever move involving Durrell and Osbourne saw Durrell scamper clear down the inside right position. The midfielder steadied himself and fired a fine low shot beyond Ben Hinchliffe in the Fylde goal to find the far corner of the net

This hope was very quickly dashed as Fylde struck back just two minutes later through the big man up front James Dean. Dave MacPherson dwelled on his attempted clearance from a throw-in, allowing the former Halifax striker to steal the ball and fire past Dan Crane in the Hednesford goal

An over-fussy referee awarded two free-kicks to Fylde, both in dangerous positions within three minutes of each other. The second one from Jack Dorney looked to be on target, but his curling shot just dipped over the crossbar

Another offside flag denied the game a goal on thirty-nine minutes, with the Pitmen on the receiving end of a marginal call from the linesman on the far side. Durrell's low drive was parried away by Hinchliffe, with John Disney following in to fire home. The right-back wheeled away, only to be denied his first Hednesford goal by the late flag

The game as a spectacle seemed to die during the early stages of the second half, as both sides seemed resigned to their fates. Half time will have seen the Hednesford players greeted with the news of Ferriby's goal, on top of goals for FC United of Manchester and Witton which put Fylde firmly in fifth place in the table

Osborne had struggled to get a handle on the game as he had done in recent weeks and was brought off on fifty-three minutes in favour of the more defensively minded Alex Melbourne

Fylde substitute Aaron Fleming tested Crane's awareness on fifty-eight minutes, whipping in a cross-cum-shot that drifted just wide of the keeper's far post

Crane did have to deal with a Fylde free kick on sixty-two minutes, making a safe catch to claim the impressive Joe Booth's shot

The tiring MacPherson was given a deserved break on sixty-four minutes as the Pitmen introduced Nathan Woolfe to add width down the left-wing

Booth tested Crane once again on seventy-one minutes, lifting another free-kick over the Hednesford wall and calling on the Hednesford keeper to make a smart save to his left

A great chance fell to the feet of Lennon on seventy-four minutes, as the striker found himself one-on-one with Hinchliffe. However, the in-form striker scuffed his shot as he looked to divert it past the keeper, allowing Hinchcliffe to smother the ball

This was to be Lennon's final action of the game, as he was replaced by Aaron Rey a minute later as the Pitmen's final change

News of a second goal for Ferriby made it to Lancashire, which seemed to inspire the Pitmen rather than demoralise them. A great chance fell to Durrell on eighty-two minutes, with his shot cleared off the line by desperate Fylde defending. Melbourne's follow-up was also cleared, with Rey missing the target with a curling shot from twelve yards out

The Pitmen ensured that they would finish the season on an incredible 93 points with five minutes remaining, as Rey grabbed a winner for the visitors. Accelerating past Steve Haslam, Rey looked as though he had pushed the ball too far as he raced towards goal, allowing Hinchcliffe to rush out and narrow the angle. However, Rey did brilliantly to make up the yards and toe-poke the ball past the onrushing Hinchliffe and into the net

Despite this late rally, there was to be no miracle on Humberside as Ferriby clinched a hard-earned promotion to Conference North in 2013-2014. Results elsewhere confirmed that the two sides would meet each other again on Tuesday night, with the Pitmen hosting the play-off semi-final as they look to end four years of play-off hurt at Keys Park

AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Haslam, Carden, Taylor, Steel, Dorney, Booth, Winter, Dean, McCarthy, Berry (Fleming 55)      Subs Unused: Farrell, Denson, Breeze, Hughes

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson (Woolfe 64), Osborne (Melbourne 53), Durrell, Harvey, Lennon (Rey 75), Taylor       Subs Unused: O’Connor, Barnes

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