Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Hednesford Town

O'Sullivan (12)


Skeen-Hamilton (3), (29), Waldron (21), Clayton-Phillips (48) (penalty)

(1) 1

(3) 4



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Riley O'Sullivan



Biggleswade Town (A) 16.4.22

Play-off chasing Alvechurch took full advantage of a plethora of defensive gaffes from the Pitmen this afternoon as they eased to three points over their dreadful hosts at the PRG stadium @ Keys Park

Last week's 0-0 draw at Coalville Town had pulled the Pitmen back into the top half of the table once more ahead of today's penultimate home game of the season, with manager Keenen Meakin-Richards electing to make one change to the side that had started at Owen Street as Josh Webb came into the side at right-back, replacing Yoane Zohore. This saw Lewis Hayden pushed into a midfield role, with Webb replacing him in defence

Alvechurch had been the league's surprise package this term, having been expected to struggle but sat just outside the play-off places at the start of play. Manager Ian Long made one change to the one that had beaten local rivals Stourbridge 1-0 last weekend as Ben Cassidy replaced Ethan Sephton at full-back. Former Hednesford midfielders Jack Hallahan and Tom Solanke both started for Church in the centre of the park

Although the sunshine had been out for much of the morning, a short downpour greeted the sides at kick-off, with a gusty and cold breeze blowing across Keys Park throughout the ninety minutes. The Pitmen's mood darkened somewhat, however, as they gifted the visitors the game's opening goal with the first action of the afternoon in the third minute; on-loan goalkeeper Oliver Basey received a backpass from Harvey Portman and attempted to play his way out of the six-yard box only to be caught by striker Tyrell Skeen-Hamilton, who dispossessed the youngster with ease before turning the ball into the empty net from close-range. An incredibly soft goal to concede so early on in the game and one that Basey will not want to watch back on

Alvechurch striker Nick Clayton-Phillips was shown an early yellow card by referee Mr Mackey in the fifth minute as he pulled Todd Parker down in midfield and was booked for the foul, leaving the former Solihull Moors man to walk a tight line for the rest of the game 

The Pitmen forced successive corners out of Alvechurch in the eighth minute, but not for the first time in the season, looked to play some over-elaborate football from the set-pieces and Alvechurch were able to clear their lines with ease

Some of the Hednesford supporters were left frustrated at Alvechurch defender Ash Carter - a previous target for the Pitmen - a minute later as they felt that he had made the most of a challenge on him from Webb to halt proceedings with the hosts on the attack so that he could receive treatment

The Pitmen were back on level terms once more in the twelfth minute as Riley O'Sullivan grabbed his fifth goal of the season with a well-taken effort; picking up a deep cross from Webb, the tall striker showed great footwork to turn past Cassidy and fired past Alvechurch goalkeeper Leon Phillips from eight yards out with a low driven shot into the far corner of the net

Alvechurch looked to restore their lead from a Zak Brown corner kick in the sixteenth minute, floating in a cross from the right that somehow sailed over the heads of everyone in the six-yard box and dropped wide of the far post

Another corner kick for the Pitmen, taken by Reece Flanagan in the eighteenth minute, was flicked on at the near post by Riley O'Sullivan but was hacked clear at the far post by Cassidy before either George Cater or Carter Lycett could react

The away side re-took the lead in the twenty-first minute as more sloppy play from the hosts saw Reece Flanagan's loose forward pass intercepted by Brad Burton, who played the ball back into the path of former Rushall striker Danny Waldron. He worked the ball onto his right foot twenty-five yards from goal before striking a firm right-footed shot beyond the reach of Basey and into the corner of the net. Question marks against Basey once more as the ball seemed to bounce and skip across the turf before beating him fairly easily to his right-hand side

Sixty seconds later, Skeen-Hamilton made a marauding run into the Hednesford penalty area after he picked up Solanke's pass, tussling with Portman before going down in the penalty area. Mr Mackey took a long, hard look at the incident before booking the Alvechurch goalscorer for simulation

The same player seized on more Keystone Kops defending from the Pitmen in the twenty-fourth minute as a long kick forwards from Phillips was flicked on by Waldron and landed at the feet of Hayden, whose complete air-shot allowed Skeen-Hamilton to beat the Hednesford man to the bouncing ball before dragging his low left-footed effort just wide of the post from eighteen yards out

Church made it 3-1 and put the game beyond the Pitmen just before the half-hour mark as the visitors worked the ball from left to right to find Cassidy out on the right flank; he pulled the ball back from the byeline and into the path of Skeen-Hamilton, whose not particularly powerful low shot took a nick off Hayden's boot and somehow managed to dribble its way through the legs of Basey and into the net. Another hugely embarrassing goal to concede for the Pitmen and another one to forget for the young goalkeeper

The shell-shocked Pitmen simply had no answer to the Alvechurch threat going forwards and were offering very little themselves as an attacking entity, with Ison's wayward header on thirty-four minutes that sailed well wide of Phillips' right-hand post the best the hosts could offer from a meagre first-half showing

Three minutes later, Basey made a morale-boosting stop to deny Church skipper Jamie Willets as Clayton-Phillips played the ball in from the right to Hallahan, whose chipped cross from just outside the penalty was met by the head of the giant defender, brushing off a weak challenge from Portman to head towards goal and forced Basey into a flying save to his left to catch the ball in mid-flight

A minute later, O'Sullivan did well to craft an opening from nothing for the hosts as he took the ball down the left-wing, showing Hallahan and Cassidy a clean pair of heels before pulling the ball back into the six-yard box where Leroy Lita was denied a tap-in at the near post by a timely clearance from Willets

Half-time saw the hapless Pitmen sent out after only seven or eight minutes in the dressing room, most likely with Meakin-Richards' words still ringing in their ears; there was also a double change for the hosts before the second half kicked off as Martin Riley came on to save Portman any further punishment at centre-back, whilst the completely anonymous Hayden was replaced by Kyle Bennett

Any strong words the manager had for his players were not heeded however as the visitors extended their lead with the first action of the second period. Another lax Flanagan pass was seized upon by former team-mate Hallahan, whose lay-off to Brown saw the midfielder play an angled ball over the top of the Hednesford defence and into the path of Skeen-Hamilton, only for Ison to shoulder-barge him to the ground inside the penalty area before he could shoot. The Hednesford players felt that the forwards had gone down a little too easily, but Mr Mackey awarded Alvechurch a spot-kick for the foul. Clayton-Phillips stepped up and fired past Basey with a little help from the inside of the post from twelve yards out to make it 4-1

The Pitmen had little choice but to commit men forwards in search of a response, with Lycett making a run deep into the Alvechurch box down the left on fifty-one minutes, taking the ball past Cassidy before shooting low from twenty yards out and forcing Phillips into his first save of the afternoon down to his right

Flanagan and Parker combined from a corner kick on fifty-five minutes to send over a cross for the head of Ison, whose looping effort was claimed by Phillips inside his six-yard box

The hard-working O'Sullivan curled a good chance just wide of goal for the hosts on fifty-eight minutes as he received a throw-in from Webb out on the right before cutting across the face of the Alvechurch box and striking a left-footed effort that curled just wide of Phillips's far post

Just after the hour mark, substitute Bennett made a darting run down the right, taking on Burton with his tricky feet and stealing half a yard to cross, whipping the ball in but watching his dangerous cross drift wide of the far post with no one in white able to turn the teasing ball home at the far post

Phillips was called into action once more to deny O'Sullivan on sixty-five minutes as the striker turned well on a pass from Webb and struck another curling shot from twenty-five yards out that was held by Phillips on his six-yard line

Cater - who had struggled to have any impact on the game and offered little in the way of a physical presence - was taken off on sixty-seven minutes as the hosts made their final change of the afternoon, with Chay Tilt coming on in his place

Lita made a darting run into the Alvechurch penalty area on seventy minutes as he finally escaped the attentions of Carter to latch onto a pass from Parker, but an offside flag against him on the main stand side put paid to the veteran's chances of a shot at goal in what had been a hugely frustrating afternoon for the player

A minute later, Webb's long, angled ball forwards looked for the run of Tilt, who made a run in behind Burton to latch onto the pass but was beaten to it by the quick-thinking of Phillips, who cleared the danger 

Skeen-Hamilton almost completed his hat-trick with a good chance from long-range on seventy-five minutes as neat interplay from the visitors out on the right saw Solanke drift infield before slipping the ball through to the striker, whose low left-footed shot from twenty yards out beat Basey but also skipped narrowly past the post

Waldron could have made it five for the Church on seventy-eight minutes as he picked the ball up from Burton's pass out on the left, taking the ball into the penalty area before striking an angled shot with the outside of his boot from twelve yards out that swerved wide of Basey's far postIson received a retrospective booking for his late lunge on Burton in the build-up to the chance, with Mr Mackey allowing the game to continue with Waldron in possession of the ball

A minute later, Lycett's corner kick from the right was partially cleared by the Alvechurch defence and landed in the path of Ison, whose follow-up shot from the edge of the penalty area ended up sailing harmlessly over the crossbar

Phillips incurred the wrath of the Heath Hayes terrace on eighty-three minutes as he appeared to make the most of a clash with Ison in his own six-yard box by going down and receiving treatment, thus taking the sting out of the Hednesford attack

Hallahan almost marked his return to Keys Park on eighty-six minutes with a goal, as he played a neat pass out to Cassidy on the right before taking the ball back from the defender and crossing to the near post, where Parker and Basey made a meal of the low ball in as the pair stumbled over each other to somehow turn the ball behind for a corner kick

In the final minute of normal time, Flanagan's inswinging corner kick was met by the head of Ison, who had managed to get goal side of Carter but headed over the crossbar from eight yards out

The ground had emptied quite considerably by the time the five added minutes had been completed, with the home supporters trudging off in frustration at yet another dreadful home display where they had been out-played and out-muscled by a team that simply wanted it more, punishing the comedic defending from the Pitmen to its fullest extent to take the points with ease. Next weekend sees the Pitmen make their penultimate away trip of this season as they travel to relegation-threatened Biggleswade Town

Hednesford Town: Basey, Webb, Lycett, Portman (Riley 45), Ison © , Flanagan, Cater (Tilt 67), ParkerLita, Hayden (Bennett 45), O'Sullivan     Subs Unused: Zohore, Clarkson

Alvechurch: Phillips, Cassidy, Burton, Hallahan, Willets ©, Carter, Solanke, Brown (Turton 73), Waldron, Clayton-Phillips  (Bellis 69), Skeen-Hamilton ▆ (Asomugha 86)       Subs Unused: Sephton, Patterson 


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