Vanarama National League North

Hednesford Town

AFC Fylde

Hughes (9)

(0) 0

(1) 1



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Ahmed Obeng


Gainsborough Trinity (A) 12.12.15

It's now eight games without a win for Bernard McNally's spluttering Pitmen, who crash to yet another home defeat this afternoon to promotion-chasing AFC Fylde to drop to within a point of the relegation places as we enter one of the busiest periods of the football season

Having recovered from the woeful showing at Leamington in last week's F.A. Trophy defeat, the Pitmen returned to Keys Park with a virtually fully fit squad to pick from, with only Tom Thorley the exception. John Disney made a return to the side as Tom James was relegated to the substitutes bench, with Kennedy Digie also restored to the starting XI in place of Jack Dyer, who continues to struggle with match fitness

Having missed out on promotion last term, Fylde have once again spent lavishly in pursuit of the promised land of Conference football and beyond. Having spent £75,000 on a stand that was ultimately not needed at their Kellamergh Park ground, they have continued to push on with their ambitious plans for a new 6,000 capacity stadium at Mill Farm. On the pitch, Dave Challinor has again been the finance to challenge at the very top, bringing top non-league talent such as Matty Hughes and the cream of the young talent in the area by bringing in the likes of Sam Finley. New signing Stephen Crainey - a man capped twelve times by Scotland and a former Celtic player - was included in the Fylde side after arriving at the club overnight

The visitors were straight into the attack from the off, as they forced Dan Crane into a smothering stop in the fourth minute to deny Dion Charles a clear shot on goal

Fylde were dealt a blow on seven minutes as Danny Lloyd limped off after an exchange with Sean Williams in midfield. He was replaced by former Dunfermline man Alex Whittle

This setback failed to stem the tide of Fylde pressure on the Hednesford defence, with the highly-rated Hughes putting the Coasters ahead in the ninth minute. A mazy run from the former Chester player saw him jink past two half-hearted Hednesford challenges and fire a low shot beyond the reach of Crane at his near post

Hednesford responded through Ahmed Obeng, who was again causing problems with his non-stop running and pacy play. A Paul Ennis corner kick found Obeng, who couldn't quite get enough contact to the ball and saw it drift out of play

 Danny Rowe was on hand to deny the Pitmen five minutes later, hooking the ball away from goal after Sean Williams' free-kick dropped in the six-yard box

 Andy Todd has been a phenomenon this campaign for the Pitmen - one of the rare bright spots in a largely dreary season far - with the 36-year-old going close to equalising for the hosts on twenty-six minutes. After getting on the end of a clever move, Todd poked the ball narrowly wide of Ben Hinchcliffe's left-hand post

Winger Adam Thomas has been well shackled by a resolute Fylde defence so far in the game, limiting the creative force to a handful of touches as he looked to get into the game. The youngster made one of his trademark surging runs on thirty-five minutes, beating a Fylde defender and firing a twenty yard shot just over the crossbar

Finley went close for Fylde with a similar effort to Thomas's two minutes later, driving a shot inches over Crane's crossbar

After a frustrating first half, Hednesford made a better start to the second period; Matt Regan went close to opening his account for Hednesford on forty-nine minutes as he headed a Sean Williams free-kick inches wide of the post

Fylde thought they had doubled their lead three minutes later, as Finley slipped the ball into the path of Charles, who finished well from close range. An earlier offside flag denied the Coaster, however, with the goal chalked off

Three successive corner kicks for the Pitmen failed to break the Fylde back line, who continued to have the measure of a spirited, but limited, Hednesford side

With twenty-three minutes remaining, the calls from the terraces for Danico Johnson's introduction finally bore fruit as McNally brought the young front man on in place of Ennis

Whittle wasted a great chance to put Hednesford to the sword on sixty-eight minutes, as he raced clear of the static Hednesford defence but skied his shot horribly over the crossbar when he should have tested Crane from eighteen yards out

The Pitmen finally showed some willing and belief going forwards with the game entering the final twenty minutes, with Hinchcliffe making the first of a clutch of excellent saves to deny Todd on seventy-three minutes. A  superb run down the right from Thomas saw him step past two tackles and send over a deep cross that Todd headed towards goal. The looping ball looked to be heading for the net until a superb fingertip save from Hinchcliffe turned the ball over the crossbar for a corner kick

In an attempt to push through an equalising goal, the Pitmen made a further change on seventy-four minutes, with Kyle Perry coming on in place of Kennedy Digie

Perry was straight into the action for the Pitmen, heading Thomas's cross goalwards and forcing Hinchcliffe into a good save. The ball rolled loose to Obeng, who turned the ball home. His celebrations were short-lived, however, as an offside flag ruled the goal out

Another flying save from Hinchcliffe denied Perry an equaliser for the Pitmen on eighty-two minutes, denying the big striker by turning Perry's flick header over the crossbar for a cornerFrom the resultant corner kick, Todd got on the end of the cross but headed well wide of goal at the far post

Perry's fellow substitute Johnson also went close to rescuing a point for the Pitmen, as he burst through the Fylde defence with a superb mazy run on eighty-eight minutes. However, his finish failed to match the run as he dragged his shot wide of goal

Three more corner kicks for the Pitmen in added time saw Crane make a move forwards in a last-ditch push from the hosts, but more competent defending from Fylde saw them earn all three points that moves them back to within four points of top spot. Defeat leaves the Pitmen staring down the table, with only goal difference keeping them out of the bottom three as we enter the all-important Christmas programme. Mid-table Gainsborough will be looking to take advantage of Hednesford's poor away form and claim all three points when the two sides meet at Northolme in a re-arranged Vanarama National League North game next weekend

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Regan, Bailey ©, T. Williams, Digie (Perry 74), S. Williams, Thomas, Obeng, Todd, Ennis (Johnson 70).     Subs Unused: Dyer, James, Trainer

AFC Fylde: Hinchliffe, Hughes, Crainey, Langley, Roscoe, Baker, Charles, Finley, Rowe, Hughes, Lloyd (Whittle 7 (Collins 78))      Subs Unused: Hardy, Kay, Urwin

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