Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

MacPherson (40), Lennon (90)

AFC Fylde

(1) 2

(0) 0



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Dan Crane


Matlock Town (H) 9.3.13

The phrase 'game of two halves' is bandied about many times throughout many football team's seasons, with this Keys Park clash a very stark example of that phrase. Fylde will have wondered how on earth they had gone in at half time one goal down after totally dominating the first period, whilst the Pitmen could, and probably should, have scored a hatful in a one-sided second half

Fresh from a battling draw at Witton at the weekend, Rob Smith made one change to the side that came away from Wincham Park with a point, as Nathan Woolfe was rested in favour of the recently returned Kyle Patterson

The ambitious Coasters have settled well into life in the Evo-Stik Premier League since promotion last season, despite a fixture pile-up caused by a combination of bad weather and continued presence in cup competitions

They made a storming start to the game, showing the confidence that five straight wins in the league bring you; just four minutes into the game, Mike Barnes sent over a cross that James Dean headed goalwards, but was denied by the safe hands of the in-form Dan Crane

Indeed, it was the first of a number of times Crane was to be called upon in the first half as he pulled off a succession of stops to somehow deny Fylde the opening goal

The Pitmen offered very little in the way of an attacking threat in the opening quarter, as Fylde controlled the play by winning a number of corner kicks that were dealt with well by Ben Bailey and Francino Francis. The one chance that did fall to the hosts was on nineteen minutes when Neil Harvey tried his luck with a volley from long range but missed the target by a yard or so

A minute later, Crane was called upon again as Barnes rifled in a shot towards goal, forcing Crane into a smart save. The ball ran loose to Barnes once more, with his follow-up shot cleared off the line by skipper Darren Campion

On the half-hour mark, a cross from Adam Carden dropped kindly for Dean whose goalbound shot was brilliantly saved by Crane from a matter of feet away

Dean went even closer for Fylde on thirty-six minutes, as Barnes was played in by a through ball from Sean Cooke before crossing for the former Halifax striker - his shot crashed off the crossbar and came back into play, where it was cleared

A minute later, another clever through ball from Cooke found Carden, who fired wide of Crane's left-hand post rather than test the Hednesford stopper

Barnes was guilty of scuffing another shot wide of goal on forty minutes before the Pitmen somehow snatched an unlikely lead through midfielder Dave MacPherson. Hednesford worked the ball well up the field, finding MacPherson lurking just outside the area. The veteran took a touch before unleashing a delightful curling effort past the outstretched reach of Ben Hinchliffe in the Fylde goal

The half ended with another Crane special, tipping a Cooke free-kick over the crossbar when looked as though it was dipping into the net

The second half started in the same vein as the first, as Fylde continued to push forward. Jimmy McCarthy's flick header towards goal was claimed by Crane, plucking the ball out of the air before Dean could divert the ball into the net

On forty-nine minutes, another Cooke free-kick finally beat Crane, but came back off the far post and was cleared by the Hednesford defence

This was to be the turning point in the game, as the Pitmen started to turn the screw in front of a desperately disappointing Keys Park crowd. Ben Bailey was first to respond for the hosts, as he fired a low shot wide of goal from the edge of the area after Elliott Durrell's corner was cleared into Bailey's path

The same player went even closer three minutes later, as he headed Durrell's corner onto the crossbar with a tremendous leap above the Fylde defence

Spurred on by the change in fortune, Hednesford suddenly found their rhythm with Durrell and Jamey Osborne looking dangerous. A tricky run from Osbourne on the hour mark saw him beat three players before being brought down just outside the penalty area. Durrell took the resultant free-kick and curled a shot over the wall but straight into the grateful arms of Hinchliffe

Hinchliffe, who had been a spectator for the much of the first half, was now being overworked by the Pitmen, as Durrell forced the Fylde number one into a low save on sixty-five minutes; the rebound fell to MacPherson, but his rising shot cleared the crossbar

Francis drove a shot in on goal on sixty-nine minutes, but Hinchcliffe smothered the big defender's bobbled shot

Fylde had offered little since their flurry of chances at the start of the second half but forced Crane into yet another superb save with twelve minutes remaining. Substitute Jack Dorney made an instant impression, fifing in an opportunistic strike from the edge of the box that Crane did well to force away from goal

With the game still in the balance, Michael Lennon was introduced to add pace and guile to the Hednesford attack for the final eight minutes of the game - he replaced the ineffective Neil Harvey alongside Rey up front

Lennon was straight into the action, teeing up Rey with a clever cross, but his strike partner headed over the crossbar from eight yards out

Patterson, who had run himself into the ground on his second home debut, was replaced late on by the more defensive-minded Asa Wright, who made only his second appearance for the Pitmen

As the game entered added time, Fylde were presented with a superb chance to leave Keys Park with a point, as a cross from Barnes was headed just inches wide by Joe Booth

And what a miss it proved to be, as with the last action of the game, the Pitmen sealed all three points through Lennon. Durrell made a brilliant run down the right, before pulling the ball back into the path of Lennon, who slid the ball past Hinchcliffe from close range for his third goal of the campaign

A win sees Hednesford move within a point of league leaders North Ferriby, albeit for twenty-four hours with Ferriby travelling to Whitby Town tomorrow night. Saturday will see the visit of tricky opponents in the form of Matlock Town, but no doubt the Pitmen will be confident of a win following this impressive result tonight

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Campion ©, Bailey, Francis, MacPherson, Osborne, Durrell, Harvey (Lennon 82), Rey, Patterson  (Wright 87),      Subs Unused: S. Barnes, Woolfe, Fincher

AFC Fylde: Hinchcliffe, Haslam , Sumner, Hughes, Carden (Winter 85), Dunn (Dorney 65), M. Barnes, B. Barnes ©, Dean, McCarthy (Booth 73), Cooke       Subs Unused: Farrell, Taylor