4.9.2006

UniBond Northern Premier League

Ashton United

Kilheeney (74), (84) (penalty), Kharas (77)

Hednesford Town

Dyer (13), (52), Alexander (23), Pedro (83)

(0) 3

(3) 4

Attendance

MoTM

Current Form

Next Match

212

Ross Dyer

L W W L D W

Guiseley (A) 9.9.06

In contrast to their indifferent home record so far this term, Hednesford's wonderful away record continued tonight after a dramatic seven-goal thriller at Hurst Cross against struggling Ashton United to maintain their 100% record on the road so far this term

 

Having seen his side claim their first home point of the season against North Ferriby United on Saturday, Phil Starbuck elected to make two changes to his side for tonight's trip up the M6 as Chris White made his full debut in midfield as he replaced Steve Brannan whilst Mario Pedro came into the side at Dave Whittaker's expense

Ashton had found the going tough in the first month of the season and sat down in seventeenth place in the table. They had, however, recorded their first win of the season on Saturday at much-fancied Gateshead, with manager Scott Green making one change to his side of tonight's clash up front as Garry Kharas came in for Jordan Goodeve to make his full debut for the side after his recent switch from local rivals Stalybridge Celtic

The Pitmen emerged in an unexpected but familiar get-up for tonight's game as they were forced into digging through the laundry cupboard to bring back their 'lucky' yellow and black shirt from the end of the 2004-2005 season due to a colour clash with Ashton's red and white halved shirts

 It was a bright start from the hosts, who could have taken the lead in the third minute of the game as Ciaran Kilheeney fired in a shot in that flew just wide of goal with the striker's first sight at goal from eighteen yards out

Kharas linked up with his new strike partner Kilheeney three minutes later to play and net piece of one-touch football to get away from Tom Marshall, only for Kharas to drag his low shot well wide of Ryan Young's near post

 

 Hednesford captain Danny Jellicoe somehow failed to open the scoring in the tenth minute as Mario Pedro's free-kick to the near post was flicked on by Marshall and into the path of the incoming Jellicoe, who cleared the crossbar with his first-time shot from close-range

The Pitmen did, however, take the lead with their next foray into the Ashton penalty area three minutes later; Ross Dyer seized upon a loose back pass from Paul Challinor and out-paced the Ashton defence before confidently slotting the ball past home goalkeeper Aaron Ratchford

 

Iain Screaton picked up a cross from Pedro that was deflected into the midfielder's path four minutes later and tried his luck with a first-time effort, only to cut across the ball and send his shot curling wide of the post

 Dyer turned provider for strike partner Darren Alexander midway through the first half as the visitors doubled their lead as he played in a great cross from the left flank for Alexander to run onto and plant a header firmly into the net from close range to double the Pitmen's lead

Dyer was proving a real handful for the Ashton defence and went close once more to adding to the Pitmen's tally three minutes later, shimmying his way past Danny Hooper and drilling in a shot from fifteen yards out that bounced twice before ending up in the arms of Ratchford

On thirty-one minutes, Dyer appeared to have his shirt tugged by Challinor as the youngster battled his way past the defender, although the striker was still strong enough to hold off Challinor and get his shot away and hit the post. His pleas for a retrospective spot-kick were waved away by the referee and the game continued

Ashton responded through Tom Baker on thirty-four minutes, who tested Young with a powerfully struck shot from the corner of the Hednesford penalty area after a good run from Chris Royle down the right saw him cut the ball back to the midfielder

Kharas was denied a debut goal by Young four minutes later as Ashton pressed for a goal to get themselves back into the game, with the Hednesford stopper fielding the striker's angled drive at his near post

Baker went agonisingly close to reducing the deficit on forty minutes as he curled in a free-kick from twenty-five yards out that struck the crossbar and bounced into the small band of Ashton supporters gathered behind the goal

 

Ashton were finishing the half strongly and probably did not want half-time to come as they searched for a goal; Young made a great save from Kharas in first-half added time as the striker got away from Ross Adams to go one-on-one with Young, only for the stopper to make a brave smothering stop at the feet of Kharas as he shaped to shoot

The Pitmen made a strong start to the second period after weathering the Ashton storm at the end of the first period and put themselves three goals to the good with their first meaningful move of the half on fifty-two minutesMarlon Walters created an opening for Dyer after some good work from the midfielder just outside the penalty area saw him slot the ball through to the striker, who fired past Ratchford once more for his second goal of the evening

 

Ashton could have folded at this point as it looked unlikely that they could get back into the game at 3-0 down. However, to their credit, they came back into contention and continued to create chances against a slightly flaky-looking Hednesford defence

On fifty-six minutes, a quickly-taken free-kick from Royle saw him play Kilheeney into space down the right-hand side of the Hednesford penalty area. The striker showed good feet to escape the attention of Marshall and chip a cross to the far post, where Craig Dudley was denied a simple tap-in by Young's presence of mind to palm the ball away from danger

Three minutes later, Kharas nodded down a free-kick from Russell Hitchen into the path of Danny Forde, only for the midfield man to lash his first-time half-volley inches wide of the upright from a good position ten yards from goal

Green made a bold double attacking change on sixty-two minutes with Goodeve and Greg Traynor both coming on, acting as a further boost to the home side's forward line. Goodeve was straight into the action on sixty-five minutes as he skipped away from a mistimed tackle from White and crossed for Kharas, who saw his goalbound shot blocked by Adams en route to goal

Successive corner kicks from Traynor were headed away from danger by Marshall on seventy minutes before Young made a timely fist away from goal to prevent Kilheeney from stealing in to reach a cross from Royle as Ashton continued to press

With sixteen minutes remaining, Ashton finally grabbed a goal to reduce arrears as Kilheeney met a long, raking free-kick from Hitchen with a fine volley that gave Young no chance from fifteen yards out

Three minutes later, things got a lot nervier for the Pitmen as Kharas reduced the deficit further by tapping the ball home from close-range on the rebound after Hitchen's initial header from Traynor's cross had hit the post and dropped kindly to the striker

 

Ashton were suddenly sensing an unlikely leveller with over ten minutes of the game remaining and pushed the hesitant visitors into the own third of the pitch. Forde should have levelled matters on eighty-one minutes as he collected a pass from Kilheeney but shot just wide of goal with only Young to beat

However, it was the Pitmen who grabbed the next goal to give themselves some breathing space once more two minutes later as excellent forward play from Alexander saw him take the ball into the box, holding off two challenges before playing Pedro in on goal. The winger feinted the ball past Ratchford and ran it into the empty net to score his first-ever league goal for the Pitmen

The Pitmen proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot again however just a minute later as they gave away a penalty to Ashton; Screaton attempted to block Goodeve's cross but only succeeded in handling the ball in the process, leaving the referee with little option but to award the home side a penalty kick. Kilheeney stepped up and confidently sent Young the wrong way to make it 4-3 with six minutes remaining

A breakaway from the Pitmen on eighty-eight minutes almost finished the game off as a contest as Pedro took the ball down the wing and pulled the ball back to Walters on the edge of the Ashton penalty area. The midfielder took one touch too many and only succeeded in lifting his shot high over the crossbar

In added time, another counter-attack from the visitors saw Walters turn provider for Pedro as he headed Screaton's ball into the path of the Portuguese winger, only for Pedro to volley just wide of Ratchford's right-hand post

A thrilling encounter and an excellent advert for Northern Premier League football that sees the Pitmen move up to sixth place in the table. There was plenty to admire about the Hednesford attack as Dyer, Alexander and Pedro showed a real burgeoning understanding amongst themselves that bodes well for future games. However, the ease in which Ashton got themselves back into the game late on will be of concern to Starbuck and assistant John Ramshaw, who will be looking for a far tighter defensive performance from their players on Saturday when they make a first-ever trip to Guiseley

Ashton United: Ratchford, Royle, Holden, Hooper (Moore 85), Challinor, Hitchen, Baker (Traynor 62), Forde, Kilheeney, Kharas, Dudley (Goodeve 62)    Subs Unused: None

Hednesford Town: Young, Screaton, Marshall, White, Jellicoe ©, Adams, Pedro, Walters, Dyer, Alexander, Hadland      Sub Unused: Brannan, Groves, Brown