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Skrill North


Walshaw (14)

Hednesford Town

Thompson-Brown (8), Durrell (25), (85)

(1) 1

(2) 3



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Elliott Durrell


Colwyn Bay (H) 5.11.13

Hednesford came through arguably the toughest test of their Skrill North credentials this afternoon, as they maintained their lead at the top of the table courtesy of an excellent win against highly-fancied Altrincham

Manager Rob Smith - announced this week as the Skrill North manager of the month for the second time already this season - was forced into changes to his side due to mounting injuries and suspensions; Ben Bailey and Dave MacPherson missed out due to one and three-match suspensions respectively, whilst club captain Darren Campion joined Aaron Rey on the bench, despite the duo still being unable to shake off niggling injuries. This saw opportunities for Paul McCone, Robbie Thompson-Brown and Alex Melbourne, who all came into the side

A large crowd of just short of a thousand gathered at Moss Lane, looking forward to the clash of the top two in the table going into the latest round of games, with the game bursting into life early on in proceedings

Alty tested the reflexes of Dan Crane on three minutes, opening up the Hednesford defence with a neat passage of play through the centre of the pitch, finding Walshaw bearing down on goal. Crane was quickly off his line to deal with the danger, saving well at the feet of the striker

Hednesford's response was swift, as they swept into the lead on eight minutes with a flowing move of their own. Kris Taylor's flighted ball was laid into the path of Neil Harvey by Michael Lennon, with Harvey cleverly back-heeling the ball into the path of Thompson-Brown. Without breaking his stride, the midfielder fired the ball beyond Altrincham keeper Stuart Coburn with a low drive, thus grabbing his first goal since joining the club in the summer

Things got worse for the hosts just two minutes later, as Simon Richman was shown a straight red card after lunging in two-footed on Jamey Osborne as the pair clashed in midfield

The Pitmen went close to doubled their lead a minute later, as Elliott Durrell's lofted free-kick was headed wide by stand-in skipper Francino Francis

They were made to pay for not taking their chance, as Altrincham's ten men got back on level terms on fourteen minutes; Durrell lost the ball as he tried to bring the ball away from goal, allowing Jake Moult to send over a deep cross to Walshaw at the back post. The prolific striker pounced on the cross and headed firmly past Crane from six yards out to equalise

Despite the numerical disadvantage, Altrincham were the better team for the next ten minutes - Nicky Clee tried his luck from fully thirty yards out with a rising shot but cleared the crossbar with his effort on twenty minutes

The Pitmen's patience paid off on twenty-five minutes, however, as Durrell cheekily put his side back in front from a free-kick. Michael Lennon won it after being hauled down just outside the box, with Durrell placing the ball down just twenty yards from goal. The referee put the Altrincham wall back ten yards, and allowed Durrell to take the kick whilst Coburn was still organising the angle of the wall. The midfielder confidently stroked the ball into the net, and despite protests from Coburn that he wasn't ready, the goal stood

Altrincham somehow failed to equalise once more on thirty-two minutes, with Damian Reeves guilty of missing an absolute sitter. Full-back Shaun Densmore jinked his way inside  and drove the ball across the face of goal, with Reeves somehow failing to turn the ball home at the far post, just a couple of yards from goal

Another over aggressive challenge on Osborne, this time from Moult, only brought a yellow card for the Altrincham man on this occasion

Durrell tried his luck from the resultant free-kick, but his firmly struck, swerving effort was turned over the crossbar by Coburn

A Durrell corner kick on forty minutes caused chaos in the Altrincham ranks as the ball dropped to the onrushing Harvey - his flick header was cleared away from goal courtesy of a combination of three Altrincham defenders, with Francis close to getting on the end of the ball at the far post. Durrell picked up the loose ball and sent over another dangerous cross that Alty somehow managed to smuggle away from goal as Francis and Lennon put pressure on them

In the final minute of the half, Crane ensured that Hednesford stayed ahead at the half time break, making a full length save to his left-hand side to deny Greg Wilkinson

The hosts felt that they should have been awarded a penalty at the start of the second half, as John Disney clashed with former Hednesford striker Kyle Perry as they challenged for the ball. The referee was unimpressed with Perry's aggressive appeals and waved away his protests

A quick counter-attack from the Pitmen on fifty-four minutes saw McCone taking the ball a good forty yards up the pitch and play the ball to Durrell. The midfielder exchanged passes with Harvey, before firing in a shot that was deflected just wide by Moult

Coburn came to his side's rescue on sixty-three minutes, saving low down from Harvey after Disney's shot was deflected into the big striker's path

Harvey was guilty of missing a glorious chance to finish Altrincham off on seventy-one minutes, as a quick break from the Pitmen saw the forward get the better of Gianluca Havern and bear down on Coburn's goal. With the goal at his mercy and only Coburn to beat, Harvey skewed his shot wide of goal, rather than make the net bulge

Harvey was substituted a minute later, with Wayne Riley replacing him up front alongside Lennon

Francis thought he had finally clinched all three points for the Pitmen on seventy-six minutes, as he appeared to head Taylor's corner home unmarked at the near post. For reasons unknown to most in the ground, the referee disallowed the goal and awarded Altrincham a free-kick. A quick breakaway saw Durrell foul Havern as he brought the ball out, with many Altrincham fans aggrieved at Durrell only picking up a yellow card for his challenge

Perhaps inevitably, it was Durrell who wrote the final chapter in the game with five minutes remaining, as the game became stretched. Taylor's superb cross-field ball found Durrell, who chested the ball past Scott Leather on the edge of the box and fired the ball past Coburn for his second goal of the afternoon

The pacy Charlie Anagho-Ntamark came on seconds later, replacing Lennon up front as the Pitmen saw the game out with a two-goal cushion

Three points for the Pitmen keeps them ahead of the chasing pack, with positive results for North Ferriby United and Brackley Town keeping them in touch with Hednesford. However, the Pitmen have games in hand due to their ongoing involvement in the F.A. Cup, with one such game coming up on Tuesday night when Colwyn Bay visit Keys Park

Altrincham: Coburn , Densmore, Doughty, Moult , Havern ©, Rodgers, Wilkinson, Richman (10), Walshaw, Reeves (Perry 45), Clee (Smikle 63)       Subs Unused: Gilroy, Cunliffe, Todd

Hednesford Town: Crane, Disney, Melbourne, McCone, Francis ©, Taylor, Osborne, Durrell , Harvey (Riley 72), Lennon (Anagho-Ntamark 85), Thompson-Brown       Subs Unused: Campion, Woolfe, Rey

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