Vanarama National League North

Hednesford Town

Perry (42), Thomas (45)

AFC Telford United

(2) 2

(0) 0



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Tyrone Williams


FC United of Manchester (A) 28.12.15

The feel-good factor that has been missing at Keys Park for some time returned - for one game, at least - his afternoon as Frank Sinclair celebrated a win over local rivals AFC Telford United in his first home game in charge of the Pitmen. Three points also moved the Pitmen away from the relegation zone ahead of a busy post-Christmas period

Last weekend's 4-2 defeat to Stalybridge Celtic had given Sinclair some clear pointers as to where the problems lay in the side, with the new man at the helm making changes to the side that had started at Bower Fold. Out went Tom Peers (injured) and John Disney, with Adam Thomas and Ahmed Obeng brought back into the side to give extra pace and penetration to the team. Kennedy Digie lined up in an unfamiliar centre back role as he continued to search for his best position on the pitch

AFC Telford's season had been, by their own admission, diabolical, as the Bucks remained rooted the foot of the Vanarama National League North table with only four wins and sixteen goals this term. Rob Smith - so long a Hednesford hero - had thus far failed to inspire the Telford troops since his August departure from Keys Park to return to the New Bucks Head. To compound his issues further, he was missing all four of his ex-Hednesford charges - Darren Campion (injured), Paul McCone (injured), Curtis Tilt (suspended) and Danny Glover (out of favour)

A cagey opening fifteen minutes saw little quality on show, with both sides struggling to get hold of the ball and several passes going astray. A neutral observer would easily have identified both sides as being low on confidence and lacking in recent positive results

Kyle Perry - up against one his numerous former clubs - was first to register a shot on goal in the tenth minute rifling a shot in at goal from the edge of the Telford penalty area that flew wide of the target

On sixteen minutes, the disappointing 962 crowd witnessed one of the most bizarre incidents many will have witnessed on a football field, as the referee confused and angered some with his decision making and handling of an incident involving Telford keeper James Montgomery. After being involved in a Hednesford set-piece in his own penalty area, Montgomery appeared to come off worst with what appeared to be a hand injury. He received attention on the pitch for a number of minutes, before being taken off the pitch and taken down the tunnel. With the crowd fully expecting a substitution, the referee allowed Montgomery seven minutes of treatment off the pitch as Smith - as he had done so on so many occasions at Hednesford - had failed to name a goalkeeper amongst his substitutes. A staggering decision that meant the game was held up for fully ten minutes before Montgomery emerged from the tunnel bandaged up. Needless to say, the Hednesford officials and supporters were unhappy with the handling of the situation

The game had barely got into gear before the timely stoppage, with the game continuing to struggle for rhythm and tempo after the restart. Both midfields were content to battle it out for the ball, with Sean Williams continuing his excellent purple patch of form with a disciplined, busy display

After a pretty turgid first thirty-five minutes, the game came to life in spectacular form in the final few minutes of the first half. Sean Clancy was first to blink for AFC Telford, as the midfielder was gifted a glorious chance to open the scoring on thirty-nine minutes. After being played clean through the Hednesford defence with a threaded ball, Clancy lifted his shot over the advancing Dan Crane but watched as his chipped effort landed on top of the Hednesford net. A massive let-off for the Pitmen

This was to prove the turning point in this marginal derby game, as the Pitmen took the lead with three minutes of the half remaining. A storming run from Matt Regan, coming forwards from left-back, saw the defender shimmy his way through a couple of Telford challenges before sending over an inch-perfect cross to Perry, who glanced the ball over the head of Montgomery and into the net via a deflection off the crossbar

Telford thought that they had struck straight back with the very next attack, as former Tamworth man Dave Hibbert steered the ball home at the far post, but their joy was short-lived as the assistant on the Wimblebury side had raised his flag for offside

Again, it was to prove costly for Telford as the Pitmen struck again in the final minute of the first half. A great run from the re-energised Paul Ennis down the right saw the forward whip the ball into the far post and into the path of Adam Thomas, who did well to control the ball and fire past Montgomery from the edge of the penalty area

The extended added time at the end of the half saw further chances for the Pitmen, with another Regan cross causing Montgomery issues as he watched the drifting ball out for a goal kick

In the final minute of added time, Thomas tried his luck from long-range but fired well wide of goal with a wild effort

As expected, Telford emerged with more purpose in the second half, winning three corners in a row as they looked to get back into the game. However, Sinclair appears to have instilled more confidence in the defence since his arrival, with Ben Bailey and Digie handling the aerial threat of the likes of Hibbert with relative ease

Hibbert did test Dan Crane's reflexes on sixty-three minutes, as his shot at the near post was confidently claimed by Crane

This was Telford's only real shot on target during the second half, as the Pitmen comfortably held their local rivals at arm's length for the majority of the half. Sean Williams was instrumental for the Pitmen, taking several dangerous free-kick from the right-hand side as the hosts pressed

The Pitmen could have added to their tally and given Smith an even more miserable return to Keys Park on seventy-four minutes, as Thomas made a brilliant run down the right and played the ball into the path of Bailey, who somehow completely scuffed his attempted shot at goal. This seemed to put off Perry, who was lurking behind Bailey and he two scuffed the rebound straight into a Telford defender

The Pitmen made their first change of the afternoon with fourteen minutes left, with Andy Todd coming on in place of the luckless Obeng to give the hosts extra insurance in midfield

Hibbert fired high over the crossbar and into the car park with a mis-hit effort on eighty minutes, which was as much as a number of Telford fans could stomach as they started to head for the exit gates

Todd has already proved his worth to the side this season with several crucial goals, scoring many by sneaking in at the far post to slot home a deep cross. He very nearly repeated the feat with seven minutes left, as Thomas's deep cross was turned over the crossbar by Todd, who was stretching to reach the ball

With the game petering out, a challenge on Ennis in midfield sparked a spate of handbags amongst the two sides, culminating in the excellent Phil Trainer being shown a straight red card for an apparent elbow on a Telford player off the ball

John Disney came on in place of Thomas to add to the defensive ranks in added time, but it was all immaterial - the Pitmen completed their first league win over a reformed Telford side with ease, giving Sinclair a flying start to his Hednesford career. There is still much to do, however, ahead of the difficult trip to FC United of Manchester on Monday. For Telford and Smith, however, there were very few positives, as they remain adrift at the foot of the table and face a difficult run of fixtures in the next month as they look to claw their way back towards the rest of the league

Hednesford Town: Crane, T. Williams, Regan, Bailey © Digie, Trainer (88), Obeng (Todd 76), S. Williams, Perry, Ennis, Thomas (Disney 90)     Subs Unused: Ransome, Johnson, James

AFC Telford United: Montgomery, Samuels, Brownhill (Hassan 67), Wynter (Austin 45), Hutchinson, Deaman, Tonks, Rea, Hibbert, Peniket (Rowe 45), Clancy       Subs Unused: Dawson, Reid

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