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Vanarama National League North

AFC Telford United

Hutchinson (28)

Hednesford Town 

Perry (53), Thomas (73), James (90)

(1) 1

(0) 3



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Kyle Perry


Curzon Ashton (H) 30.1.16

The Pitmen lift themselves out of the relegation zone this evening as they complete a memorable league double over local rivals AFC Telford United at the New Bucks Head in this relegation six-pointer

Having failed to win any of their last three games since beating the Bucks at Keys Park on Boxing Day, the Pitmen made the short trip across the M54 looking for a response to Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Boston United. Despite their reverse at York Street, manager Frank Sinclair elected to stick with the same XI for tonight's second away trip in three days

Telford - managed of course by former Hednesford supremo Rob Smith - had moved off the foot of the National League North table on Saturday after defeating Bradford (Park Avenue) 3-1 at the New Bucks Head, lifting them out of the bottom three in the process. Smith made two changes to his side from the one that had started the Bradford game as Ryan Rowe was replaced by Dave Hibbert up front and Tom Tonks came in for Jack Rea in midfield

On a baltic evening in Shropshire, the red and yellow-clad Pitmen made a strong start with the tricky Shelton Payne making an immediate impact down the right-wing; in the third minute of the game, he won a free-kick to the left-hand side of the Telford penalty area after being brought down by former Hednesford favourite Darren Campion and took the kick himself, flashing his twenty-yard effort just wide of goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne's left-hand post before the on-loan stopper had time to organise his wall

Telford's early play was riddled with misplaced passes and a genuine lack of appetite for play, very unlike a Smith side in its application. A poor clearance from Campion in the seventh minute was seized upon by Sean Williams in midfield, who took the ball back towards goal but saw his low shot blocked by his former Hednesford team-mate Curtis Tilt

More failings in the Bucks ranks in the tenth minute saw Graham Hutchinson's heavy touch picked up by Ahmed Obeng, who raced away from the Telford man down the right flank and squared the ball to former Telford man Kyle Perry - he attempted to get his shot away from ten yards out but was thwarted by Burgoyne's quick thinking rushing out to make a timely block at the feet of the experienced striker

Tonks' long throws were a well-established weapon for whomever he played for previously, with the Bucks midfielder launching a mammoth throw from the left a minute later to find the head of Samuels at the far post, who headed narrowly over Dan Crane's crossbar from six yards out

On-loan Wolves midfielder Eusebio Bancessi was next to test the Pitmen's flaky resistance in the fifteenth minute as the Guinea-Bissau international cut inside from the left flank to drift past a challenge from Kennedy Digie before drilling a low shot from just inside the Hednesford penalty area wide of Crane's far post

The ever-willing Stephane Ngamvoulou was working hard in midfield for the Pitmen, snuffing out several Telford moves into the Pitmen half and sending the likes of Adam Thomas and Obeng away in the opposite direction. Three minutes later, the big Frenchman got in ahead of Tilt to reach Ben Bailey's long throw but looped his effort onto the roof of Burgoyne's net

Another Bailey throw midway through the first half was partially cleared by the Bucks defence and into the path of Payne, who cut inside and attempted an angled shot from sixteen yards out that Burgoyne parried away before claiming at the second attempt before Perry could react

Payne was denied by Burgoyne once more four minutes later as his low driven shot from twenty-five yards out was saved low down to the goalkeeper's right-hand side

Despite the Pitmen having the better of the first twenty-eight minutes of the game, their familiar defensive shortcomings came to the fore as Telford got their noses in front; another long throw from Tonks on the left was aimed at the lanky figure of Hutchinson, who was allowed a free header at the near post to flick the ball towards goal which evaded Crane and his defence as it dropped into the corner of the net from eight yards out

The away side struggled to conjure up a response after falling behind, as Telford's defence held firm heading towards half-time. On thirty-five minutes, a free-kick from Thomas was headed away by Tilt towards Ngamvoulou, whose first-time effort from the edge of the penalty area was blocked by a diving challenge from Lucas Dawson

Another long throw from Tonks on forty minutes found Hibbert lurking inside the penalty area, with the former Tamworth man doing well to hold off a challenge from Jack Truelove but lifted his shot high over the crossbar

In the final minute of the half, Ngamvoulou's speculative volley from long-range failed to test Burgoyne as the on-loan stopper watched the midfielder's drifting strike over his crossbar

The Pitmen had shown plenty of spirit and willing to take the ball forwards in the first half, but had once again shown their soft underbelly in defence as they allowed a shot-shy Telford side to take the lead with one of very few sights at goal in the first period. Sinclair made some tweaks to his side at the break as Digie moved back into defence, with Jack Fitzwater shifting to right-back which allowed Thomas to play in a more advanced role down the right flank

Former Fleetwood Town man Sean Clancy went close to extending Telford's lead just sixty seconds after the restart as his right-footed drive from the edge of the box was inches wide of Crane's right-hand post

Bancessi was also just off target for the Bucks a minute later as Tonks' throw was headed as far as the Wolves man, who drilled his shot just wide from the corner of the penalty area

These two early chances squandered by the hosts were to cost them dearly as the Pitmen levelled matters on fifty-three minutes. Truelove did well to play his way down the right flank and play Payne into space beyond Campion; the winger picked Perry out with an inch-perfect cross from the byeline, with the ex-Telford man heading past Burgoyne from six yards out to make it 1-1

The Pitmen were lifted by Perry's equaliser and pushed forwards in search of a quickfire second goal to turn the game on its head, with Thomas rippling the side-netting on fifty-six minutes as he burst into the penalty area down the right to reach a Williams pass but drove his shot just wide of the post

Two minutes later, Obeng's run through the centre of the park was halted by a foul on him by Hutchinson, allowing Williams to spot the ball up and strike a firm free-kick at goal from twenty-five yards out that stung the palms of Burgoyne as he pushed the ball away from goal for a Hednesford corner kick

On the hour mark, a lofted cross from Clancy on the left was cleared to the edge of the penalty area by Bailey, falling to Dawson whose first-time volley dipped just wide of Crane's post

Former Macclesfield Town winger Izak Reid came on for the Bucks and was immediately into the action as the hosts pressed down the left flank through Campion on sixty-five minutes, playing the tricky Reid into space beyond him. The substitute showed Fitzwater a clean pair of heels and sent over a cross that Crane pushed over the crossbar as Hibbert lurked with intent inside the Hednesford six-yard box

Another flowing move from the host four minutes later saw Reid release fellow substitute George Bowerman down the left flank with a fine pass in front of the striker. The former Walsall man looked to catch Crane out with a deft lob over the head of the backtracking stopper from eighteen yards out, but got a little too much on his effort and saw his chip land on the roof of the net

Bowerman had the ball in the net on seventy-one minutes as Bancessi's cross from the right found the head of the striker at the far post, whose initial effort came back off the post before the ball dropped to him once more in the six-yard box, with Bowerman slotting the ball home at the second attempt. the goal was ruled out, however, as a foul on Crane from Tilt in the build-up saw referee Mr Strain award the Pitmen a free-kick instead

Once again, the Pitmen used this let-off to their advantage as they got their noses ahead for the first time in the evening on seventy-three minutes through Thomas, who was playing with real gusto after his half-time switch forwards. Bailey's long throw level with the right-hand side of the penalty area was headed downwards by Perry and into the path of Thomas, who rifled his first-time shot beyond the reach of Burgoyne at his near post and into the roof of the net via a slight touch off Tilt

The away side made their first change of the evening with twelve minutes remaining as Paul Ennis came on in place of the tiring Obeng up front to add guile to the Pitmen's attack in the remaining minutes of the game

Hutchinson nodded over for the hosts on eighty minutes as he reached a corner kick from Clancy at the near post, running across Bailey to get goal side of the Hednesford centre-back

Bowerman and Hibbert combined well just outside the Pitmen's penalty area three minutes later to play Reid into space on the left-hand side of the penalty area, only for a covering tackle from on-loan Fitzwater to save the day for the away team as he cleared the danger

Mike Grogan - on in place of Tonks - was played into space down the right by Samuels on eighty-five minutes, teasing his way past Digie and crossing low into the penalty area where neither Bowerman nor Hibbert could turn the ball home from close-range

A minute later, Payne was sacrificed by Sinclair as the winger was taken off in favour of left-back Tom James to add a more defensively-minded player to the Hednesford ranks in the final minutes 

Telford exerted heavy pressure on the Hednesford defence as they searched for a leveller and almost found it in added time as Reid's cross was cleared as far as Hutchinson on the edge of the box, who blazed his first-time shot just over the crossbar and into the Hednesford fans behind Crane's goal 

Having withstood Telford's late pressure, the Pitmen launched one final attack and settled matters with a late, late third goal on the counter-attack; a long punt forwards from Bailey found Perry, who did well to hold off the attention of the backtracking Hutchinson and unselfishly squared the ball into the path of James, who had made a late run into the penalty area to turn the ball past Burgoyne from close-range

It had been a pulsating second half with the game threatening to swing from one side to another until the visitors' third goal clinched the points late on, completing a quickfire league double over their local rivals and moving them back out of the bottom three in the process whilst dropping Smith's side back into the drop zone. The Pitmen return to Keys Park on Saturday when they host mid-table Curzon Ashton in what will be a first-ever meeting between the two sides


AFC Telford United: Burgoyne, Samuels, Campion, Dawson, Hutchinson, Tilt, Bancessi (Reid 60), Tonks (Grogan 79), Cofie (Bowerman 66), Hibbert, Clancy       Subs Unused: Rowe, Montgomery

Hednesford Town: Crane, Thomas, Truelove, Bailey ©, Fitzwater, Digie, Obeng (Ennis 78), Williams, Perry, Ngamvoulou, Payne (James 86)       Subs Unused: Regan, Patterson, Ransome

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