6.11.2021

Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

Parker (38), A. Brown (60)

AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Hughes (85), Shamsi (88), Jones (90)

(1) 2

(0) 3

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Shaquille Master

D W L L W D D W L L

 

Coalville Town (H) 16.11.21

The Pitmen suffered the embarrassment of throwing away a 2-0 lead with only five minutes to go and allow visitors AFC Rushden & Diamonds to score three times late on to snatch the points at the PRG Stadium @ Keys Park this afternoon

Last week had seen Hednesford exit the F.A. Trophy at the first hurdle with defeat against league leaders Peterborough Sports. Manager Keenen Meakin-Richards was forced into one change to today's starting XI as Chay Tilt was replaced by top scorer Andre Landell after feeling unwell in the build-up to the game and was only named as a substitute. Young goalkeeper Bradley Clarkson - a midweek signing from Darlaston 1874 - was also named amongst the substitutes as he replaced fellow teenager Rhys Williams

Mid-table Diamonds arrived at Keys Park off the back of an F.A. Trophy exit of their own last weekend after a 2-1 defeat at Northern Premier League side Matlock Town. Long-serving manager Andy Peaks made two changes to his side for today's return to league action as Matt Slinn and new signing Ty Deacon came in for Jess Akubuine and Tom Lorraine respectively. Former Hednesford loanee AJ George was amongst the Diamonds substitutes after his recent move to Hayden Road from Oxford City

It was a cold afternoon in South Staffordshire, with the floodlights being called upon early on in a Saturday afternoon game for the first time this season. Diamonds tested Jono Brown in the very first minute of the game as Deacon's pass sent Connor Furlong away down the left, only for his lofted cross to be claimed by Brown at his near post ahead of Ravi Shamsi

The home side's first chance of the afternoon fell to the feet of striker Andre Brown in the fifth minute as Andre Landell's through ball found his strike partner in behind the visiting defence. The burly striker took a touch before firing in a low shot from fifteen yards out that could only find the side-netting

Furlong did well to pick Wes Atkinson's pocket three minutes later down the left, crossing low into the near post where Shamsi was a whisker away from applying the finish as the ball flew across the face of the Hednesford goal

Jono Brown was alert to more Diamonds pressure in the tenth minute after Josh Endall's poor clearance was seized upon by Deacon, whose header into the path of Nathan Tshikuna saw the midfielder try his luck with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area. The ball deflected off the torso of Lewis Ison and back into the path of Deacon, whose rebounded effort was smothered by Brown inside his six-yard box

The barrel-chested Tshikuna had Brown scrambling across his goal in the thirteenth minute as he made a bustling run past three half-hearted challenges before unleashing a low, dipping effort from fully twenty-five yards out that Brown managed to tip around his post for a Rushden corner kick

From the resultant corner kick, Diamonds did have the ball in the net Shamsi's near-post corner was turned into the net from a yard out by Tshikuna, only for referee Mr Lunn to disallow the goal for a push on Jono Brown by Ryan Hughes in the build-up

Aram Soleman - playing in a wider position than his previous two games for the Pitmen to cover for Tilt - felt that he had a good shout for a penalty kick on twenty minutes as he went down under a challenge from Paddy Casey, only for Mr Lunn to gesture to the player to get back to his feet

The aggressive figure of Landell has a proclivity for getting himself booked and was once again shown a yellow card a minute later for a crude challenge on Matt Slinn in midfield that irked the Diamonds bench

Shaquille Master created the Pitmen's best opening of the game on twenty-four minutes as he picked up Andre Brown's pass on the left wing and drifted towards the penalty area before shooting low at goal from the edge of the box. Rushden goalkeeper Dean Snedker made a hash of the initial shot as he spilt it into the path of Landell, whose follow-up shot was blocked en route to goal by skipper Alex Collard

The tall figure of Endall should have done better with a great chance two minutes later, heading a deep Carter Lycett free-kick from the right wide at the far post when he was presented with a free header from six yards out

More alert goalkeeping from Jono Brown denied Rushden an opening on thirty-two minutes as he made a timely interception to cut out a through ball from Tshikuna to deny Furlong a clear sight at goal after the Hednesford defence had momentarily paused

The pacy Furlong was denied another sight at goal three minutes later as a late offside flag pulled the player back as he burst through the Hednesford ranks to latch onto a fine through ball from Shamsi

With seven minutes of a poor first half remaining, the Pitmen were handed a touch of audacious luck after Landell had won a free-kick out towards the right-hand touchline, some forty yards from goal. Young midfielder Todd Parker took the resultant free-kick and lofted the ball into the penalty area; the ball deceived all of the players who arrived in the six-yard box, beating Snedker for pace and swerve and nestling in the far corner of the net. There was some initial confusion as to who got the final touch as Ison also appeared to claim the goal, but Parker was credited with the game's opener by the stadium announcer

More good wing play from Master saw the winger trick his way past Fernando Bell-Toxtle on forty-two minutes, drawing a foul out of the Rushden midfielder. Skipper Courtney Richards took the resultant free-kick but could not match Parker's spectacular strike as he lifted his shot over the crossbar from twenty yards out

It had been a largely forgettable forty-five minutes from both sides, with Parker's fluke effort the only genuine talking point from a half that had lacked quality from both sides. Diamonds had appeared content to sit behind the ball and counter-attack as many away teams do at Keys Park, using Shamsi and Tshikuna's pace to effect where possible. The Pitmen had seen plenty of the ball and had simply done very little with it for long periods of the first half

Good play from Casey just a minute after the restart saw him get to the byeline and cut the ball back into the six-yard box, only for Ison to cut out the danger before the dangerous Shamsi could pounce

At the other end, Master switched wings as he got on the end of a pass from Soleman to pull the ball back towards Andre Brown, only for Snedker to make a timely interception at his near post

Shamsi probably should have done better with a great chance handed to him on fifty-three minutes as Furlong did well down the left to whip in a deep cross that was partially headed away by Ison. Tshikuna brought the ball under control and slipped the ball into the path of the former Stratford Town man, whose low driven shot was well wide of goal from eight yards out

Brown was denied a chance at goal by Collard's covering tackle on fifty-seven minutes, with the Rushden skipper coming across to intercept promptly to take the ball away from the striker as he raced onto a Master through ball

A quick counter from the Pitmen on fifty-nine minutes saw Atkinson take the ball from Furlong and send the ball up to Richards, whose through ball found Master once more. However, the winger's cross into the box was once again well dealt with by former Hemel Hempstead Town man Snedker ahead of Landell

The Pitmen's first real moment of quality in the second half saw them go two goals ahead on the hour mark as Endall's fine ball upfield found Lycett in space down the left-wing. The youngster swept forwards and sent over an inch-perfect low cross into the path of the incoming Andre Brown, who sidefooted past Snedker from twelve yards out to make it 2-0

With the Pitmen now in control of the game, Soleman was taken off after a mixed afternoon for the recent signing from Guiseley, with Tilt coming on in his place down the right flank on sixty-two minutes

On sixty-six minutes, goalscorer Andre Brown was afforded warm applause from all corners of Keys Park as he was taken off in favour of Riley O'Sullivan, who was given an extended run-out in a bid to get more game time for the recent signing from Coventry United

Diamonds themselves made an attacking double change around this time as they looked for a way back into the game with only twenty minutes remaining. George - who had replaced Furlong - made an impact for the away side on seventy-two minutes as he started a move in midfield to pick up a lacklustre clearance from the hosts, culminating in him playing a quick one-two with Ben Diamond on the edge of the penalty area but curling his shot straight into the hands of Jono Brown

With fifteen minutes remaining, the hosts made their final change of the afternoon as skipper Richards once again failed to see out the ninety minutes as he was replaced by Reece Flanagan in the centre of midfield

Ison was alert to the danger posed by George two minutes later as he managed to block the substitute's low shot after Sam Warburton's left-wing cross picked the former Mansfield Town man out twelve yards from goal

Superb last-ditch defending from Atkinson kept the hosts two goals to the good on eighty minutes as a long throw from Warburton was not cleared by the Pitmen and allowed Shamsi to fire in a low shot at goal from eight yards out which was blocked on the line by the former Notts County right-back

With five minutes remaining, Diamonds got themselves back into contention as a corner kick from the right, taken by Shamsi, was headed home at the near post unchallenged by Hughes

Suddenly, there was something for the visitors to play for in the closing minutes as the pressure started to crank up on a Hednesford defence that has looked flaky and unconvincing for much of the season. Hughes went close to a quickfire equaliser for Rushden just a minute later as he headed Warburton's deep cross from the left flank over the crossbar

The Pitmen were now desperately hanging on to their lead and were dropping deeper and deeper into their own third of the pitch, inviting pressure onto them from a resurgent Diamonds team. Shamsi - scorer of a spectacular goal against the Pitmen for Stratford a couple of years ago - conjured up another masterpiece with two minutes to go as he levelled matters once more; picking up the ball out on the right flank, the striker was given too much time and space to cut inside before unleashing an unstoppable low drive beyond the reach of Jono Brown and finding the far corner of the net from fully thirty yards out. A great strike no doubt, but awful positioning and defending from the hosts and question marks once more about the quality of the defenders in a white shirt

With the game drifting into added time, Hughes earned himself a booking for kicking the ball away to deny the Pitmen a quickly-taken set-piece in the centre of the pitch as they looked to get themselves back in front

Landell could have put the hosts back in front in a frenzied final two minutes of added time as Jono Brown's long kick forwards was flicked on by Ison and into the path of the Pitmen's top scorer, who drove his shot agonisingly wide from just five yards out

In the final minute of added time, Diamonds completed a memorable turnaround with the latest of late goals to win the game; Shamsi whipped in a corner kick from the right flank and found substitute Will Jones, whose glancing header at the near post nestled in the far corner of the net to spark wild celebrations amongst the Rushden players and supporters

The Hednesford supporters trudged off into the early evening darkness, angry and frustrated at an embarrassing late capitulation on their own patch to hand the points to a limited but pragmatic Diamonds side who had simply wanted it more in the closing stages. There is a quick turnaround of games for Meakin-Richards' despondent troops as they face Stratford Town at Keys Park this Tuesday night looking to improve on a woeful recent record of only three wins from their last fourteen games

Hednesford Town: J. Brown, Atkinson, Lycett, Endall, Ison, Richards © (Flanagan 75), Soleman (Tilt 62), Parker, A. Brown (O'Sullivan 66), Landell , Master     Subs Unused: Rowley, Clarkson

AFC Rushden & Diamonds: Snedker, Casey, Warburton, Slinn, Hughes , Collard ©, Tshikuna (Diamond 66), Bell-Toxtle, Deacon (Jones 81), Shamsi, Furlong (George 66)      Subs Unused: Lorraine, Nixon

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