F.A. Trophy Semi-Final 1st Leg

Aldershot Town

Hednesford Town

Danks (25), Maguire (77)

(0) 0

(1) 2




Current Form

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Chris Brindley


 Dover Athletic (H) 30.3.04

The Pitmen turn the form book on it's head this afternoon with a majestic display of character to take a giant step towards a first ever F.A. Trophy Final after defeating Nationwide Conference high-flyers Aldershot Town on the own patch this afternoon

Last weekend had seen the Pitmen get back to winning ways in the Dr. Martens League with a late win over Cambridge City at Milton Road to end a three match run without a win since the win over Hornchurch in the quarter final of this season's F.A. Trophy to set up today's tie. Manager Barry Powell had much to ponder ahead of the game as Steve Palmer was ruled out due to suspension, whilst Chris Gray was once again cup-tied. They were replaced by Anthony Maguire and Mark Danks, whilst Lee Barrow had picked up a knock at the end of last week's game and failed a late fitness test - he was replaced by the fit-again Stuart Ryder at centre-back

Aldershot - old foes of the Pitmen from an infamous F.A. Cup clash four seasons ago - were having a fine season in the Nationwide Conference, sitting third in the table currently, although Terry Brown's team were in mixed form with two wins, two draws and a defeat from their last five games. The Shots had beaten fellow Conference high-flyers Exeter City in their quarter final tie to earn their place in the semi-final and were white-hot favourites to defeat their step two opponents over the two legs. Brown made two changes to the side that had beaten Shrewsbury Town in their previous game on Tuesday night, bringing in Richard Barnard and Tim Sills for Nikki Bull and Adam Miller

Roared on by a huge crowd, Aldershot made a fine start to the game and took it to a nervous-looking Hednesford side in the opening ten minutes. In the fifth minute, a fine pass from Sills played Aaron McLean in behind the static Hednesford defence, only for Les Hines to track back successfully and block the striker's shot

A minute later, following three successive Aldershot corners, Jamie Gosling headed a Jon Challinor cross narrowly over the crossbar and into the Recreation Ground's gardens behind Ryan Young's goal as the hosts pressed

Ryder was alert to the danger on eleven minutes as he made a timely tackle to rob Roscoe D'Sane of the ball after Aldershot's top scorer had been played through the channel by Gosling

Mr. F.A. Trophy Chris Brindley was rolling back the years in the centre of the Pitmen's defence, marshalling his troops and proving an immovable object for the Aldershot attackers as he continually thwarted their attempts to make an early breakthrough

A quickly-taken free-kick from Sills in the seventeenth minute caught the Pitmen out positionally as McLean made darting run into the penalty area and squared the ball to D'Sane, only for the striker to be pulled up for a marginal offside against him as he got goal side of Ryder to reach the cross

The Pitmen were slowly coming back into contention as they grew in confidence with the ball at their feet. Danks made a great run into the Aldershot penalty area in the twenty-second minute as he skipped past Aldershot skipper Ray Warburton and fired in a shot at goal that Barnard saved well

Three minutes later, the Pitmen struck and opened the scoring to send their 200 plus fans behind the goal crazy; a long throw from Darren Simkin on the right was flicked on by Steve Anthrobus at the near post and into the path of strike partner Danks, whose curling shot beat Barnard and nestled into the far corner of the net via a deflection off the base of the post

The Shots were shocked back into life following the Pitmen's opening goal and peppered the Hednesford goal with long-range efforts. Sills tested Young on twenty-nine minutes with a low, bobbling effort from outside the penalty area, followed a minute later by D'Sane's off-target effort from a Challinor lay-off

Loanee midfielder Jordan King had picked up where he had left off on his debut against Cambridge City, giving the Hednesford defence a valuable layer of protection against the dangerous Aldershot attack and supporting Carl Palmer in the midfield area

Chris Giles drove a long-range effort well wide of goal for the home side on thirty-three minutes, whilst Gosling was wasteful after latching onto a D'Sane pass four minutes later as he allowed Brindley to rob him of the ball on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area

Simkin showed his commitment to the cause on forty minutes as he threw himself in the way of a shot from Sills that was travelling towards goal until the right-back's timely block

A rare attack from the Pitmen in the final minute of the first half saw Hines win a free-kick out on the left wing which he took himself to pick out the head of Anthrobus, only for the big man to head into the sizeable Aldershot following behind the goal

The Pitmen were delighted with their first-half display after doing brilliantly to contain the Aldershot attacking threat whilst taking the one chance that had fallen to them to give them the advantage

A powerful run from D'Sane just four minutes after the restart saw him beat both King and Ryder as he entered the Hednesford penalty area. His angled drive was well saved by Young, who turned D'Sane's shot onto his near post and away for an Aldershot corner kick

Anthrobus did well to outmuscle half-time substitute Jason Chewins as the pair challenged for a Carl Palmer pass on fifty-three minutes, only for his shot to bobble well wide of Barnard's right-hand post

Brindley made another timely block to deny McLean on fifty-seven minutes, sliding in to turn the striker's shot away from goal with another fine, committed challenge from the player/assistant manager

On the hour mark, Danks almost doubled his, and the Pitmen's, tally for the afternoon as he pounced on a poor backward header from Giles to race onto the loose ball and force Barnard into a diving save down to his left with a low drive from the edge of the penalty area

Aldershot's best chance one the game fell at the feet of Challinor nine minutes later as D'Sane's defence-splitting pass found the midfielder clear of the Pitmen's retreating defence, only for Challinor to pull his shot inches wide of the post from only ten yards out. A great chance and one that was to ultimately cost the home side a few minutes later

Young denied substitute Lee Charles on seventy-three minutes, pushing the former Hayes striker's shot away from goal after Sills had played the ball into his feet. A minute later, Giles headed well wide of goal at the far post after sneaking in to meet a Gosling cross

Despite being limited in creating decent chances, the Pitmen increased their lead with thirteen minutes remaining with a great Maguire strike; Danks timed his run perfectly to break the Aldershot offside trap as he was played through by Carl Palmer and struck a shot at goal that was deflected away by Dominic Sterling. The ball rebounded into the path of the incoming Maguire, who's struck an unstoppable first-time shot from just outside the Aldershot penalty area that flashed past Barnard and into the top corner of the net. A fine strike and one that the Pitmen had deserved for their disciplined display

Aldershot became desperate to find a way back into the game and pushed the Pitmen back into their own penalty area for the much of the final ten minutes; the imperious Brindley denied the Shots a way back into the game on eighty-one minutes as he hacked a Sills header off his own goal line following an Aldershot corner

In a bid to see the game out, Powell made two late changes to add more legs to his tiring side with Steve Piearce coming on for scorer Danks and Ashley Dodd at right-back for the spent Simkin


Giles tried to force the ball home from close-range with a minute of the game left from a Sills cross, only for a combination of Ryder, Brindley and Young to clear their lines for the away side 

In added time, Piearce could have put the tie beyond Aldershot's grasp as he timed his run well to latch on to Charie's pass, but his low shot was saved by Barnard as the substitute kicked himself for not finding the target with his one and only attempt of the afternoon

It had been a fantastic and historic afternoon for the Pitmen, who once again made a mockery of their dreadful league form to rise to the occasion in the F.A. Trophy and give themselves a clear advantage ahead of next weekend's second leg at Keys Park. Before this, however, attention returns to league action and improving on their league position as they host Dover Athletic on Tuesday night looking for successive wins in the league for the first time since November


Aldershot Town: Barnard, Downer, Sterling, Warburton © (Chewins 45), Giles, Gosling, Antwi, Challinor, Sills, D'Sane (Harper 85), McLean (Charles 59)     Subs Unused: Nutter, Lauder-Dyke

Hednesford Town: Young, Simkin © (Dodd 87), Hines, Maguire, Brindley, RyderC. Palmer, KingAnthrobus, Danks (Piearce 85), Charie        Subs Unused: Dean, S. Evans, P. Evans