Pitching In Southern Premier League Central


Hednesford Town

Landell (39) (penalty)

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Ryan Pryce



Biggleswade Town (H) 28.8.21

The Pitmen make it three wins from three and maintain their 100% start to the new season this afternoon with a well-earned and controlled win over Alvechurch at a drenched Lye Meadow

Monday night had seen Keenen Meakin-Richards' side pick up the notable scalp of title favourites Stourbridge at the Amblecote to leaves them as one of only two sides with perfect records going into today's third round of games with Peterborough Sports. Meakin-Richards was forced into making changes to his side for today's game as Sam Griffiths and Courtney Richards joined Callam Mendez-Jones on the sidelines after being ruled out due to injury. This saw Josh Webb make his first start of the season as he replaced Griffiths at right-back and Reece Flanagan came in for Richards in midfield. Recent youth team graduate Joe Morley was named amongst the substitutes after his promotion to the first-team squad

Alvechurch had also made a fine start to the season and headed into today's game off the back of an impressive 3-0 win over their local rivals Bromsgrove Sporting on Tuesday night. Manager Ian Long made one change to his side for today's game as Zak Brown replaced Sam McLintock in midfield. Former Hednesford striker Tristian Dunkley - a recent arrival from Barwell - started up front for the hosts

It had been a stormy morning across the Midlands, with torrential downpours leaving the Lye Meadow slick and fast-paced. There was a delay to the kick-off by nearly five minutes as the assistant referee highlighted a problem with one of the nets not being fastened correctly to the goal frame which was remedied using a large amount of gaffer tape to secure the netting

The rain continued to tumble relentlessly as the match kicked off with both sides on the front foot. Andre Brown broke clear in the fifth minute down the right to latch onto a pass from George Cater and forced Alvechurch goalkeeper Dan Jezeph to push him wide and push his low shot back onto his boot and behind for a goal kick

A good run down the right from Ryan Pryce in the eighth minute saw him overlap well beyond Cater and get to the byeline, only for his low drilled cross into the six-yard box to be cleared by Ash Carter before Andre Landell could pounce

Four minutes later, good link-up play - this time down the left - saw Josh Webb feed Carter Lycett, who stepped past Josh Ezewele's challenge and crossed into the penalty area for Brown, who had the ball whipped away from him by Church skipper Jamie Willets

The rain continued to fall on the pitch, although the considerable slope at Lye Meadow allows the water to run off it quite quickly compared to a pitch on a flat surface no doubt

In the twentieth minute, the ball bobbled around in the Alvechurch penalty area as both Cater and Landell looked to force the ball home; Landell eventually laid the ball off to Flanagan, whose deft chip over the head of Jezeph from the edge of the penalty area just cleared the crossbar

Landell was guilty of missing an absolute sitter two minutes later as Lycett picked up a cross-field pass from Cater before drilling in a low cross to the far post, where Landell somehow turned the ball over the crossbar from just a couple of yards out. A huge chance missed from the former Stourbridge man

Back came the hosts with a rare foray into opposition territory on twenty-five minutes as Dunkley picked the ball out wide and ran at Webb, only to see his cross deflected by the full-back to take the sting off it and drop into the arms of Andy Wycherley

The hosts were very much on top of the game at this point, with all of the play inside the Alvechurch half. Todd Parker was next to have a shot at goal for the men in sky blue as he made a clever run into the box to pick up a pass from Lycett but drilled his low shot straight into the arms of Jezeph on twenty-eight minutes

Alvechurch's best chance of a limp opening half came on thirty-four minutes through full-back Ezewele, who ran onto a cross that was feinted by Dave Bellis but lifted his shot from twenty-five yards out high over the crossbar

George Cater was once again proving a tricky customer with his pace down the right flank, although he was finding the end product frustratingly lacking. His run into the Alvechurch penalty area on thirty-seven minutes saw him get on the end of a fine through ball from Landell but allowed Carter to make a covering tackle before he could get his shot away and win a corner for the visitors

Two minutes later, the Pitmen were awarded their fourth penalty of the season already and a chance to open the scoring as Cater's pass into the feet of the overlapping Ryan Pryce saw the right-back go down under a challenge from Bellis, who took the player's leg a split second before he won the ball. Referee Mr Cox awarded the Pitmen a spot-kick and waved away the Alvechurch protests, which saw Bellis booked for his protests. Landell spotted the ball and sent Jezeph the wrong way from twelve yards for his second goal in two games

Flanagan went within a whisker of doubling the Pitmen's lead a minute before the break as he made a run into the Alvechurch penalty area but pulled his low shot across goal a matter of inches wide of the far post

It had been a controlled, disciplined performance from the Pitmen, who had looked comfortable on the ball and a threat going forwards with the likes of Landell and Parker impressing, whilst Pryce was causing the hosts issues every time he made a move forwards from right-back

Zak Brown booked for the hosts just three minutes into the second half after he had committed a foul on Cater in midfield with the winger looking to get away from him

The hosts were looking more spritely at the start of the second period but were still struggling to make that final ball count. Skipper Ben Bailey made a late and timely sliding challenge on the greasy turf on fifty-two minutes to toe-poke a pass from Dunkley back to Wycherley before Charlie Dowd could get to the ball

Landell was handed another great chance to double the Pitmen's lead on fifty-seven minutes as Cater stood up a cross to the far post from the right flank which was met by the head of the Hednesford goalscorer six yards from goal, only for Jezeph to claw the ball away from goal on his line with an instinctive stop

Cater was also denied a first-ever competitive goal for the Pitmen by Jezeph two minutes later as he was played through on goal by Parker and looked to take the ball around the stopper but was denied twice by a combination of Jezeph's legs and the tracking back of Ben Cassidy to deny him on the rebound. The ball eventually found its way to Landell, who tried a cheeky lob from the edge of the penalty area that drifted just over the crossbar

A double substitution for Church saw both strikers go off on sixty-four minutes as Dunkley was replaced by former Halesowen Town man Luke Yates and Dowd replaced by Colin Smith

Substitute Smith had Church's best opening of the game so far on sixty-seven minutes as Lewis Ison's tackle on Danny Waldron looped into the path of the forward, whose left-footed shot was just wide of Wycherley's far post

Parker was the Pitmen's first player to be booked in the game as he was rightly shown a yellow card with twenty minutes remaining for a crude push on Cassidy

A minute later, Morley was handed his Hednesford debut as he came on in place of Lycett, who had suffered an injury and had to be helped off the pitch by sports therapist Eve Little

A curling corner kick from Cassidy on seventy-three minutes was aimed at the head of Willets, only for the former Stourbridge man to somehow miss the cross as he came steaming in at the far post

Andre Brown had had no luck in front of goal this afternoon despite his best efforts and was replaced before the game could restart as he Reece Styche came on for him up front

The Pitmen had a string of corner kicks themselves in a five-minute spell of pressure on the Alvechurch goal with fifteen minutes remaining; Cater's floated ball into the penalty area on seventy-six minutes was met by Bailey, who saw his effort drift just wide of goal

Webb's lack of game time finally caught up with him at this point and he was taken off before play restarted as Kyle Rowley came on in his place. This saw a reshuffle of the full-back positions as Pryce came across to left-back to cover for Webb and Rowley went out to play at right-back

Another Cater corner two minutes later was cleared as far as Pryce, who laid the ball off to Styche. He took a couple of steps across the edge of the Alvechurch penalty area before firing in an angled shot that Jezeph saved at his near post

Tom Turton came on for the hosts in place of Zak Brown and played a lovely angled pass into the path of Waldron two minutes after coming on, only for Ison to make a fine block tackle and see the ball back to the under-worked Wycherley

The hosts were reliant on set-pieces as the minutes ticked by to create chances, with the giant Willets moved up front for the closing minutes to add his height to the front line. However, Bailey, Ison, Pryce and Rowley all stood firm and dealt with the aerial threat posed by Church in the final moments of the game

Indeed, it was impressive game management from the Pitmen, who kept the ball well in the closing stages and managed their possession and territorial advantage well as they limited Alvechurch to long punts forward when they did win the ball back, which were easily dealt with by the back line

Three wins in the first week is a fantastic return from a Hednesford side that had looked a little uninspiring and disjointed at times in pre-season but were now sitting joint top of the early league table with Peterborough Sports going into next week's round four of games. Biggleswade Town - who have made an inconsistent start to the season and were well beaten by Sports today - make the journey to Keys Park next Saturday as the Pitmen go in search of win number four and continue their early-season purple patch

Alvechurch: Jezeph, Ezewele, Cassidy, Barkers , Willets © , Carter, Bellis , Z. Brown  (Turton 80), Dunkley (Yates 64), Dowd (Smith 64), Waldron       Subs Unused: 

Hednesford Town: Wycherley, Webb (Rowley 75), Pryce, Bailey ©, Ison, Flanagan, Cater, Parker , A. Brown (Styche 73), Landell, Lycett (Morley 71)    Subs Unused: Hanna, Williams


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