Evo-Stik Northern Premier League

Hednesford Town

Glover (32) (penalty)

Ashton United

Chadwick (25)

(1) 1

(1) 1



Current Form

Next Match


Jordan Wheatley


Matlock Town (A) 15.8.17

The Pitmen's start to the new season began in rather quiet fashion this afternoon, as they failed to take their chances against Ashton to register a point at Keys Park in the campaign's curtain raiser


New manager Neil Tooth had been busy reshaping the squad since taking over in the summer from Gary Birch and handed out a number of full debuts for the hosts with James Wren, Jordan Wheatley, Sam Oji, Lee Smith, James Lawrie and Matt Dodd all starting today's game, whilst Jose Veiga was named amongst the substitutes


Ashton had once again built a powerful Northern League squad for the forthcoming season, with player/manager Jody Banim bringing in the likes of Nicky Platt and Liam Tomsett to add to his already experienced ranks during the summer months as United looked for an improvement on last season's eleventh place. Banim had been dealt a major blow in the week leading up to the first game with news that key midfielder Ryan Crowther will miss the whole of the season with a knee cruciate injury sustained in pre-season


On a cloudy afternoon in South Staffordshire, the Pitmen made a bright start in the opening ten minutes as they switched the ball from wing to wing with ease and getting the pacy Dodd straight into the action. In the eighth minute, a great run down the right from Dodd saw the winger pick out Lawrie, whose first-time effort from the edge of the penalty area came back off the right hand post


More exciting wing play from Dodd two minutes later saw him get the better of left-back John Pritchard, with the Ashton defender seemingly making a clumsy challenge on the winger and bringing Dodd down just inside the penalty area. The referee remained unmoved, however, and continued with the game


Ashton responded through a string of set-pieces but found Wren in commanding form on his league debut, claiming the ball well on three occasions as the away side pressed


On twenty one minutes a deep cross from Wheatley found the head of Danny Glover, but was a little too high for the striker to get to and resulted in the ball being headed over the crossbar


Ashton's first real chance of the game resulted in the opening goal on twenty-five minutes, as a ball through the heart of the Hednesford defence played Jack Dyche clean through on goal; his initial effort was well saved by Wren but rebounded kindly for Matt Chadwick, who turned the ball home from an acute angle


The Pitmen nearly equalised straight from the restart through a Kris Taylor free kick, as the midfielder's lofted ball was headed narrowly wide by Joe Ballinger from close range at the far post


A poor clearance from Sam Oji on thirty minutes very nearly let Ashton in once more, with the burly centre back doing well to recover from his initial error to clear well from the feet of Dyche


The Pitmen were gifted a chance to get back on terms two minutes later, as Lawrie was bundled to the ground as he challenged for another Dodd cross from the right. The referee immediately pointed to the penalty spot, handing Glover the opportunity to open his account for the season by sending Ashton keeper Dave Carnell the wrong way and equalise from twelve yards out


The Pitmen ended the half on top, creating a clutch of good chances to take the lead for the first time. On forty minutes, a great cross from Taylor found Ben Bailey, whose miscued header was turned just wide by the onrushing Glover


On the stroke of half-time, Glover should have given the Pitmen a 2-1 lead as he was played clean through on goal by Tom Thorley. The ball momentarily got stuck in the turf as Glover shaped to shoot, with the Hednesford goalscorer putting his effort into the side netting as Carnell narrowed the angle


The Pitmen enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges in the second half, with Taylor lifting a long-range effort just wide of Carnell's goal from fully forty yards out. A few moments later, Chadwick fired wide of Wren's goal after he seized upon Oji's misdirected header just outside the Hednesford penalty area


Carnell was alert to keep the score at 1-1 on the hour mark, making a smart save low down to deny Dodd after the Hednesford winger broke into the Ashton penalty area


The Pitmen felt that they should have been awarded another penalty on sixty-seven minutes as Dodd burst into the Ashton penalty area and was unceremoniously halted by a challenge from Aaron Chalmers. Despite pleas from players and fans alike, the referee dismissed the claim against Dodd and the game continued


With twenty minutes remaining, Taylor's impressive performance came to a premature halt as Tooth gambled by putting on a second striker in the form of Jordan Nadat


Another chance dropped to the busy Glover, who had put a shift in for the side on his own up front until Nadat's introduction. Finding space in the penalty area, the Hednesford goalscorer pulled his low drive wide from twelve yards out after a clever pass from Thorley


Nadat himself could have won the game for the Pitmen in the final ten minutes, as a brace of good chances fell to the in-form striker. On eighty minutes, he picked up a partially cleared corner kick on the edge of the penalty area, but shanked his shot high over the crossbar, rather than test Carnell


Six minutes later, Nadat's low centre of gravity saw him turn quickly and get goal side of Chalmers, but again lifted his shot over the crossbar from just inside the Ashton penalty area


In the first minute of the four added minutes, the home side had one final chance to claim all three points as Bailey's up and under found Glover lurking, but luck deserted the striker as his header dropped just wide of the far post


A draw was, on reflection, a fair result on the balance of play. Ashton were good value for a point with a competent performance, particularly in defence, whilst the Pitmen will be left smarting at the chances they missed the second half. They have a chance to get that first win of the season under their belt on Tuesday night when Tooth's side travel to Matlock Town

Hednesford Town: Wren, Wheatley, Ballinger, Oji, Taylor (Nadat 70), Dodd, Thorley ©, Glover, Smith, Lawrie     Subs Unused: Mutton, Wright, Melbourne, Veiga


Ashton United: Carnell, Coo (Smalley 62), Pritchard, Cartwright (Woodford 78), Lees, Chalmers, Platt (Roberts 70), Tomsett, Chadwick, Dyche, Stachini     Subs Unused: Durnin, Johnson

Images © copyright pitmenweb